For me, it's all about what an actor's character doesn't say. And no one doesn't say it any better than Johnny Depp.
Whether it's to give his audience an insight into his character's personality or to express a wordless thought, the communication is always spot on.
In a scene in Don Juan DeMarco, Don Juan's father is teaching the teenage Don Juan the art of fencing. Just at that moment, the object of Don Juan's passionate obsession, the young and beautiful, but married Dona Julia walks by, stopping a moment to exchange sensual gazes with Don Juan. His father, seeing all of this, stands there glaring at his son. Don Juan returns his glance, looks away slightly then looks again at his father as if to say (as teenagers would) "What? I'm not doing nothing. Don't pay any attention to my pants monkey." Priceless!
In What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Becky is explaining to Gilbert the mating habits of the praying mantis. She tells Gilbert that the female bites off the head of the male, mates and when she's done, she eats him. Then she casually says to Gilbert, "Do you want something to eat?" He tilts his head ever so slightly and shyly smiles as if to say,"Seriously? After that story you're offering me something to eat?" It's just hysterical!
But it's also the subtle way Mr. Depp gives his audience a peek into the goings on of his character's personality. In Ninth Gate, Dean Corso walks into his kitchen, pulls a boxed dinner out of the freezer, pops it into the microwave, box and all, presses the button and walks away. It's as if his character is saying, "I want to eat but I don't want to cook. When the box is ablaze, the dinner will be done...I guess." So what, who cares?
And when Dean is about to enter the pristine confines of rare and priceless books, he uses his tie to clean off his glasses. Good enough is enough for Dean.
Dialog is essential to most stories. But whether the dialog is sparse as in Edward Scissorhands and Dead Man or seemingly endless as Captain Jack Sparrow, it's the subtlety's of Johnny Depp's performances that keep me watching his films again and again.