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Arts and Entertainment

Johnny Depp's Touching Tribute To Wes Craven: 'Rest In Peace, Old Wes'

Johnny Depp at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
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Johnny Depp may be a household name now, but 31 years ago, he was just a young musician who got his first acting break in A Nightmare on Elm Street. He hasn't forgotten who took a chance on him, and the actor gave a touching tribute to the late legendary horror director Wes Craven on Monday night.Depp was at the Toronto International Film Festival for a screening of Black Mass, a film where he portrays mobster James "Whitey" Bulger. During a Q&A session, a fan asked him about Craven casting him in the 1984 horror film. He gave a thoughtful response, thanking the filmmaker for his breakout role, which would eventually lead to his role in 21 Jump Street and his megastar status.

According to Variety, Depp said, "Wes Craven was the guy who gave me my start, from my perspective, for almost no reason in particular. I read scenes with his daughter when I auditioned for the part. At the time, I was a musician. I wasn’t really acting. It was not anything very near to my brain or my heart, which is pretty much how it remains to this day."

He continued, "But Wes Craven was brave enough to give me the gig based on his daughter’s opinion. I guess she had read with a bunch of actors, and after the casting sessions, she said, 'No, that’s the guy.' I always think of her for putting me in this mess, and certainly Wes Craven for being very brave to give me this gig. But he was a good man — so rest in peace, old Wes."

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When Depp auditioned for the role of Glenn in A Nightmare on Elm Street, it really was Craven's teenaged daughter, Jessica Craven, who launched Depp's career. The director let his daughter sit in on an audition, and she was dead set on Depp being cast for the main character's role.

"I happened to have my daughter, at the time she was 13, watching the casting session," Wes Craven said in a Bio channel documentary about Depp. "So, we went home and we were going through all the pictures... and went through all these handsome sort of jock types that I thought teenage girls would like. She said, 'Dad, Johnny Depp' and points to Johnny Depp's picture and I go, 'Doesn't he look kind of sickly, kind of pale?' And she goes, 'He's dreamy.'"

Craven, who was also known for iconic horror films like The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, died at the age of 76 on August 30 after a battle with brain cancer.