Why do Johnny Depp’s characters keep creeping into all my male characters?

Okay, I admit I am a fan. But not one of those wacky crazy fans like…well, just google: Why is Johnny Depp so hot? And you know what you’ll find? Thousands and thousands of blog posts and YouTube videos.

Nearly all the posts read something like this:

Q: On a scale of 1–10 how hot do YOU think Johnny Depp is?

A: OMG! 10 billion if I am allowed to go that high! He is People’s Sexiest man Alive for 2009 and he deserves it!! HOTTEST MAN ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My favorite movies by him are Benny and Joon, Sweeney Todd (I love it when he’s mad), Edward Scissorhands, and all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. These are in no order. I LOVE HIM!

Actually, I think of myself as rather sophisticated when it comes to my taste in men and particularly discriminating where my heroes are concerned. So, why is it when I am working out a profile for a new protagonist, I often use the Depp character analogy?

My current writing project, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, features a slightly deranged, dark protagonist who rarely takes himself seriously. He lives in the basement of a brothel, and communicates with demons and monsters for a living.

So Jill, exactly how Deppish is Phaeton Black?

Let’s see if you can follow this Depp filmography: He gets his soulful dark eyes and intense quirky temperament from Benny and Joon, borrows a bit of glib eccentricity from Jack Sparrow. Surely he derives his taste for absinthe and his sleuthing skills from Inspector Fredrick in FROM HELL. The debauched, inebriate part of Phaeton is Rochester in the Libertine and the whimsical tortured soul who communicates with phantasmagorical creatures has got to be Icabod Crane of Sleepy Hollow.

Does that about do it? No!

When I created THE YARD MAN, Zeno Kennedy, I had in mind the stoic Mr. Darcy of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I moved the period up seventy years, placed his residence in London and had Scotland Yard employ him. Little did I realize J.M. Barrie would surface from FINDING NEVERLAND. And who knew he could serenade Cassandra like Sweeny Todd? Or waltz like him? Huh.

I have in mind another hero named Raphael Byron Lewis, who definitely has shades of DON JUAN DEMARCO in him. Ah well, I guess I just can’t help myself.

I could probably do this Depp filmography exercise with nearly every male character I have ever written and come up with another equally unique set of films and characters that Johnny Depp has made memorable. I suppose this says more about the versatility of Mr. Depp than it says about my characters, but still, I do tend to think of him often when developing male heroes.

I have finally settled on the idea, that I am attracted to odd, eccentric characters. Heroes whose hearts beat to their own rare, exotic rhythms. Oh yes, they must be hot, ingenious lovers, for sure, but they don’t shave their chest hair or have bulging muscles. And they do have to be really, really smart. And clever. And funny.

What is wrong with me?

Perhaps I am searching for an enduring hero, not just a character who can keep me entertained for the length of a novel. I will even think about him afterward and say, “Wow, (insert name here) was an amazing, hot hero.” And maybe I will remember him for years afterward.

So, how does Mr. Depp fit into all this? In a way, Johnny Depp must be a kind of male muse for me. He plays Eros to my Erato. And I’m keeping him that way.


There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is currently finishing the second book in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com

G. Jillian Stone


3 responses to “Why do Johnny Depp’s characters keep creeping into all my male characters?

  1. Nice post…bookmarked..TY

  2. He makes every character he plays memorable. Each with its own traits and qualities – we all strive to write men like that. Depp is a great inspiration!

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