Today on BBC Breakfast, an interview with Johnny Depp spun from the topic of The Lone Ranger to nail polish to what sounds like a hint that the actor may be contemplating a career change. Asked whether it’s still “a danger” that he might give up on acting, Depp responded:
At a certain point you start thinking, when you add up the amount of dialogue that you say per year, for example, and you realize that you’ve said written words more than you’ve had a chance to say your own words, you start thinking about that as a kind of insane option for a human being. Are there quieter things that I wouldn’t mind doing? You know, yeah. I wouldn’t mind that. I wouldn’t say that I’m dropping out any second but I would say that it’s probably not too far away.
The key idea here: it won’t be any second. Despite hubbub about Depp’s announcement—and the New York Post‘s headlining statement that the actor “plans to quit acting after latest box office bomb“—his fans have reason to moderate their concern.
For one thing, no matter what the actor decides to do in the future, audiences will be seeing his face in months, if not years, to come. He’s already filming next year’s sci-fi drama Transcendence, and has several movies (including Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and the mega-star-packed musical Into the Woods) in pre-production. His reprisal of the role of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland 2 has also been rumored.
And, though it’s always possible he could change his mind, there’s further reason to believe Depp won’t disappear from movie screens anytime soon. For one thing, Depp recently gave a big interview to Rolling Stone in which the topic of retirement also came up. Though the piece, released prior to the film, misidentified The Lone Ranger as a likely success, Depp was already talking about giving up acting, saying that he thought about it regularly but had no plans to actually go through with it. Furthermore, he told RS that he gets “antsy” if he’s not working and that he’s looking forward to playing older characters.
There’s also evidence that the topic of slowing down really has been on his mind for a long time, with no actual retirement materializing. He said in 2011 that he would like to play a role like King Lear or Don Quixote prior to retiring (neither has happened yet, nor has any other epic role of that level) and that he wants to do adaptations of the books The Ginger Man and Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (which also haven’t happened yet). And two years before that, he told China Daily that he fantasizes about letting himself go, as an “old man with a beer belly.”
And, finally, there’s the fact that Depp’s not alone in his ambition to quit—and that prior evidence shows that retirement rarely sticks when it comes to stars. Just this March, for example, Idris Elba announced that he was taking a hiatus; his new project The Gunman, also starring Sean Penn and Javier Bardem, is currently filming.