It has not been a banner year for Johnny Depp. Alice Through the Looking Glass tanked, Amber Heard had the receipts, and he went through a high-profile divorce—Johnny Depp is yet another on the long list of people anxious for 2016 to take its bad juju and return to the dark dimension from which it sprang. And now, in the latest headline for Depp’s least favorite scrapbook, it’s been announced that he is leaving his long time agent, Tracey Jacobs, and jumped ship to mega-agency CAA.
Depp has been with Jacobs since his 21 Jump Street days, so this is an extraordinary move. This is not just newbie talent trading in a starter rep for more serious management; this is a huge star leaving the architect of his wildly successful career for greener pastures. Depp and Jacobs have long been seen as a tight working unit, one of the most successful—and enviable—agent/client partnerships in Hollywood. It’s rumored he once presented her with some serious jewelry at a party and it felt like a marriage anniversary—this was a very lucrative relationship for both parties. But it didn’t stop him from leaving Jacobs and their mutual home of the last eighteen years, UTA.
I can see the appeal of CAA, though. It’s a massive agency and represents some huge stars. Depp is joining ranks with RDJ, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and Jennifer Lawrence. Not to mention they also rep a lot of top-tier behind the camera talent, like Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, and super-producer Brian Grazer. In fact, this is CAA’s best selling point—with so much talent from both sides of the camera in-house, they can easily package deals for clients. Putting together a project is no more difficult than walking down the hall to another agent’s office.
And Depp has several long-simmering projects that could be used to reinvigorate his career and image after years of diminishing returns and damaged reputation. He’s still one of the most famous actors in the world, but he needs a win. This move doesn’t seem to be affecting his deals already in place, including the remake of Murder on the Orient Express and that Tupac movie, but perhaps CAA can get some momentum for The Invisible Man remake he wants to do, or that rumored Night Stalker project with Edgar Wright.
After the last few years, Team Depp needed a shakeup. But instead of, say, personal improvement and reflection, Depp decided to fire arguably the most loyal non-related person in his world. (His sister is also his manager. She is not fired.) Let’s see how that works out for him.