While Leo and Jen found themselves, later in their careers, straddled with the stigma of being stuck with debuts in semi-terrible camp fests, Johnny Depp had the enviable luck of being part of the start of one of the most enduring horror franchises in Hollywood history.
If you don't know the story of A Nightmare On Elm Street, your life is lacking severely. You need to stop everything you're doing and watch it right this second. Go ahead, we'll wait.
… Still waiting… it's a long movie.
Okay, good, you're back. Wasn't that amazing!? Good luck sleeping, sucker!
On the off-chance you didn't actually go watch it, I'll give you the gist:
*30-Year Old SPOILERS AHEAD*
The story is about a child murderer named Freddy Krueger who gets arrested but acquitted on a technicality. In a rage, the parents of the victims find him and set him on fire and he dies. He comes back as a vengeful demon-monster-thing that can kill children in their sleep, so he hunts down the surviving children of the people who killed him. And, one of those children happens to be an 18-year-old Johnny Depp.
As Depp tells it, he was actually not going to audition to be in the film. He was accompanying his friend, actor Jackie Earle Haley, who was set to audition, and the casting director just asked Depp to try out as well. Depp ending up getting cast and Haley didn't. However, Haley ended up playing the role of Freddy Krueger in the 2010 remake.
The best scene in the film is Johnny Depp's death. It's very bloody, but you can watch it here. If you can't click through to the video, let me explain it, but know that just hearing it in word's doesn't capture its majesty. Johnny falls asleep listening to music on his headphones, and then… wait for it… he gets sucked into and eaten by his bed and spit out in a literal geyser of blood and gore.
Depp may be revered for his work in thoughtful dramas and huge-budget action adventures, but before his three Oscar noms and hundreds of millions of dollars, he was just a young, wide-eyed actor who got eaten by an evil, possessed mattress.