Terrifying Film Starring Johnny Depp “So Bad” and So Dark That U.S. Fans Will Never See It

Actor Johnny Depp starred in a film deemed “so bad” that it was never released in the United States.


You don’t have to be a Johnny Depp fan to know that throughout his more than 40-year-long career, he’s been among the most sought-after actors in the history of Hollywood.

Johnny Depp

Credit: Flickr/CelineQ

Hollywood’s Highest-Paid

In 2007, Johnny Depp was the highest-paid male actor in the business, with earnings that year of more than $92 million. The same was true the following year, during which Depp amassed over $72 million as compensation for his wide range of talents in front of the camera.

johnny depp

Credit: Disney/Canva

Actor Harrison Ford took the top spot from Depp in 2009, but Depp was back on top again as the highest-paid male actor in 2010.

Hollywood Directors’ First Choice

Hollywood directors and producers have regularly sought out Depp for roles in their respective films because of his versatility in acting–his ability to play a variety of roles–and because of his uncanny ability to not only play those roles but to fully embrace the characters he plays, breathing life into them in a way that is unmatched by even the most talented film actors.

Over the years, Depp’s talents have not only made big bucks for the actor himself, but for the films in which he stars as well. After only being in Hollywood for a few years, Depp had already landed the breakout role as the title character in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands by 1990.

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Credit: Disney

Depp’s performance in the film, as well as the film’s performance at the box office, would serve as a springboard for his career, leading to offer after lucrative offer of roles in blockbuster films, many of which that–thanks to Depp’s involvement–have become hallmarks in Hollywood history.

A Dark Film Centered on an Even Darker Topic

Once upon a time, however, Johnny Depp starred in a film that was so bad, so poorly received, and so disliked by critics that it was scrapped before it ever made its box office debut.

johnny depp in "the brave" 1997

Credit: Majestic Films

In 1997, Depp co-wrote, directed, and starred in a film simply titled The Brave. The film tells the story of a man who has recently been released from prison and receives a terrifying offer–to star in a film in which he would be killed in real life–from a mysterious stranger. Though the offer is horrific and will absolutely result in the man’s death, the financial payout is so substantial that he realizes he will be able to provide for his family for the rest of their lives.

Johnny Depp admitted later that he didn’t particularly like the initial script but that he was intrigued by the idea of the character’s sacrifice for his family.

The Brave, which stars Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Marshall Bell, Frederic Forrest, and Elpidia Carrillo, is an adaptation of author Gregory McDonald’s novel of the same name.

johnny depp in "the brave" 1997

Credit: Majestic Films

Even before The Brave premiered at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, the famous actor had described the film as “one of the most difficult things” he’d ever done. He further said that the production of the film “just about ripped [him] to shreds.”

The Brave premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 10, 1997, and was not received well by critics. The film, which is 123 minutes long in duration, received extremely negative reviews, including one in Variety, which called the project “a turgid and unbelievable neo-western.” Screen International said that “Depp’s ignominious directorial debut crawls across the screen for two hours like a snail” and that it was “narratively inept and dramatically empty.”

johnny depp in "the brave" 1997

Credit: Majestic Films

In the days following the film’s debut at the Cannes Festival, a U.S. distributor had still not been found. The LA Times reported that “many U.S. companies [would] be even more wary of the film because of a series of devastating reviews this week after the film was screened here.”

The scathing reviews eventually led Johnny Depp to scrap a formal release of the film in the United States–at the box office and on home video, thus leaving The Brave unavailable to viewers at the theater and in their own homes.

johnny depp

Credit: Disney/Majestic Films/Canva

Depp would later admit that the critics “just . . . destroyed us,” as he believed that he was on the receiving end of a personal attack simply because he dared to try making a film from behind the camera.

After more than 25 years, Johnny Depp has stepped back into a directorial role, this time for the film Modi, which has yet to announce a release date. Only time will tell if the same scenario will play out for a second time for the beloved actor-turned-director.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!