The name Johnny Depp is one of the most recognizable in the world. The quirky star has played a wonky pirate, a Boston crime lord, a chocolate obsessed factory owner, and a scissor-clawed Pinocchio, to name but a few of his many and varied roles.
The actor may be hot property in Hollywood now, but he hasn’t always been so highly regarded. Many years of offbeat film choices earned him a reputation as an outsider, and it wasn’t until Pirates of the Caribbean came along that he really became a superstar.
As a performer, Johnny Depp is unafraid to go the extra mile. He’s always been willing to take on the characters that nobody else would dare to. It’s a quality that has earned him the respect of his peers and, even today, he remains a towering presence on screen. So, let’s get to know the man they call John Christopher Depp II, with a few fascinating facts that might just surprise you.
Like many teenagers, Depp struggled to deal with an unpredictable family and an unstable home environment. As a youngster, he was moved around a lot. By the time he was seven years old, he’d already lived in twenty different cities. Later in life, his parents divorced and he took to drink, drugs, and self-harm as a teenager. In 1993, the actor talked candidly about his past, stating that each tattoo and scar feels like a memento of an important juncture in his own history.
Johnny Depp joins the surprisingly long list of Hollywood celebrities who started their careers on a negative note. He dropped out at the tender age of fifteen, after deciding that life as a rock and roll musician would suit him better. Just two weeks later, he got cold feet and asked the school to take him back. They refused and as they say, the rest is history.
After being turned away by his school, Depp knew that his only option was to become a rock and roll superstar. So, he moved his garage band, The Kids, to Los Angeles and they tried to earn themselves a record deal. While they did end up opening for punk icon Iggy Pop, the band never really found commercial success.
The many wives and girlfriends of Johnny Depp are well known by now. During the nineties, he was part of two of the hippest pairings on the planet. As his fairy tale engagements to Kate Moss and Winona Ryder are still swooned over by gossip magazines, it’s no wonder that his first wife has been all but forgotten.
However, he actually had a wife even before he began his relationship with French actress Vanessa Paradis. Her name was Lori Anne Allison, and she was the sister of the bass player in one of his bands.
Although Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis never married, they were together for 14 years from 1998 to 2012. During that time, they had two children together. Their oldest is daughter Lilly-Rose Depp, who was born in 1999. They also have a son, John Christopher Depp III — aka “Jack” — who was born in 2002.
Even though him and Vanessa haven’t been together for quite some time now, he still has nothing but good things to say.
“Vanessa and I get along wonderfully. There’s no weirdness at all, no hostility. Life happens. We spent 14 great years together and have raised a couple of kids who we are both incredibly proud of,” Depp told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I love her and she loves me. She’s a great woman and mom. I have nothing bad to say, ever.”
We have National Treasure star Nicholas Cage to thank for all of the amazing performances given by Depp over the years. His first wife, Lori, introduced him to the actor and he had some words of advice. He told Depp to drop the musical aspirations and become a movie star.
Cage actually hooked Depp up with his first agent and the two have been firm friends ever since. In 2007, Cage was battling some very public financial issues and Depp offered to pay off his debt as a way to say thank you.
This actor has had a pretty unpredictable career. For most of his life, he has deliberately chosen challenging roles; parts that have earned him critical praise but left the box office cold. Yet, he started out as a bonafide heartthrob. In 1987, he was catapulted into the spotlight after being cast as undercover cop Tommy Hanson in TV show 21 Jump Street.
Those chiseled cheekbones and dark brown eyes had teenage fans in a flutter and the show was a huge success. Depp was never very comfortable with the fixation on his looks though and he decided to pursue a different kind of career.
Goldeneye was the horse that played Gunpowder, Ichabod Crane’s horse in Sleepy Hollow. Depp and Goldeneye obviously spent a lot of time together on set, and they bonded. However, Depp learned that the one-eyed horse was going to be put down after filming wrapped, so he jumped at the chance to adopt the horse, instead.
In 1993, he spent time filming two movies; What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Arizona Dream. In the first, he starred alongside a nineteen year old Leonardo DiCaprio. While on set, he dared the younger actor to sniff a rancid pickled egg. When DiCaprio shocked by him diving head (or nose) first into the challenge, he paid him $500.
While filming Arizona Dream, with legendary actress Faye Dunaway, Depp found out that she’d never jumped on a trampoline. So, during a gap in shooting, he and a friend drove eighty miles to find one and brought it back for Dunaway to play with.
Most people know that Depp once co-owned a nightclub in Los Angeles — The Viper Room. And, most people also know what happened at this club and why the actor later got rid of it. It was on the sidewalk outside The Viper Room that fellow performer River Phoenix overdosed and died.
It was a massive story in Hollywood, because Phoenix was an incredibly talented and promising actor. On a lighter note, something that not many people know is that Johnny Depp used to regularly hand out $50 and $100 bills to homeless people outside the club.
Captain Jack Sparrow, the kooky pirate with a penchant for rum, has become one of the most iconic Disney characters in history. However, the studio were seriously thinking about booting Depp off the first movie. They didn’t like his flamboyant walk or his shambolic rock and roll performance. Executives didn’t understand it and they discussed the prospect of replacing Depp with a more conservative actor.
They must be thanking their lucky stars now, because the franchise is one of the biggest money makers that Disney has ever had. Captain Jack Sparrow is loved by kids and grownups alike and is set to return to the big screen next year, in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
In 2004, Depp created his own production company and named it Infinitum Nihil. This translates as ‘Nothing is forever.’ His position at the company is, all at once, actor, producer, and CEO. Interestingly, his sister serves as the president of Infinitum Nihil.
Thus far, it has produced blockbuster movies Hugo, The Rum Diary, and Dark Shadows. Over the last decade, Depp has become increasingly fascinated with behind the camera as well as in front of it. He spent four years making a documentary about Rolling Stones rocker, Keith Richards. The two are good friends and, in fact, Richards was the inspiration for Captain Jack Sparrow.
When you see Johnny Depp on the red carpet or in paparazzi photos, he’s very rarely seen without glasses. It’s definitely not a fashion statement. Depp is nearly blind in his left eye, and nearsighted in his right eye. He once told Rolling Stone that he’s “never had proper vision” his whole life, and he says things are “very, very blurry” when he doesn’t wear glasses. In fact, he can’t see more than a few inches in front of him without glasses, which is immensely impressive if you think about all the acting he’s done over the years sans glasses.
In macabre musical, Sweeney Todd, Depp had to impress in a completely new way. He sang throughout most of the movie and, unlike poor Helena Bonham Carter, his efforts weren’t mangled by the critics. Audiences actually quite liked his turn as the demon barber and were pleasantly surprised by his hidden knack for show tunes.
They may have been bloody and more than a little gruesome, but the songs in Sweeney Todd earned Depp legions of new fans. It’s doubly impressive when you know that he didn’t use a voice coach to prepare for the role. He would practice the songs in between shooting for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
In 2013, a British scientist discovered a 505 million year old fossil. It had huge pincer like claws (closely resembling scissors or shears) and is thought to have been an ancestor of lobsters or scorpions. So, what do you do when you find a scissor handed fossil? Well, you give it the only name you can; Kooteninchela Deppi. The ‘chela’ ending was chosen because it translates as Latin for claws or scissors. And the ‘deppi’ is a reference to Johnny Depp, the one and only Edward Scissorhands.
Thus far, Depp has a total of eighteen tattoos (that we know about). They include a Native American face, in profile, which he got all the way back in 1980. He also has the name of his daughter and his son tattooed on his body, alongside the name of his mother on his left bicep.
He, of course, has a sparrow tattoo and, to honor his late friend Hunter S Thompson, he has the gonzo fist inked on his left leg. In interviews, Johnny has been quick to open up about his love for tattoos, stating that they remind him of important moments throughout his life.
There is a great story about the time Johnny Depp ran into a twelve year old fan named Jack Taylor. He was on set filming for a movie, in Wisconsin. After a long conversation and lots of chitchat, Taylor commented on the hat that he was wearing.
Depp asked him if he liked it and, when he said he did, he promised to send it to him once shooting had wrapped. It’s likely that the young movie fan never expected anything to come of the exchange, but Depp had other ideas. He wrapped up the hat (along with a treasure chest of goodies from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory set) and sent them, in the mail, to little Jack Taylor.
It’s not just fans who benefit when this generous actor turns his good fortune around and shares it with those in need. In 2007, his daughter Lily Rose fell dangerously ill with an e-coli infection. The situation was extremely serious and, at one point, her kidneys began to fail. Fortunately, she made a full recovery at Great Ormond Street, in London.
To say thanks to the hospital, Depp returned later in the year dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow. He spent four hours playing with and reading stories to the poorly children on the wards. In 2008, he donated a whopping £1 million to the hospital that saved the life of his daughter.
He must have really enjoyed visiting the hospital dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow and making all those kids smile. Following that visit, it was reported that Depp actually started carrying his Pirates of the Caribbean costume everywhere he went.
Sometimes you go to kiddie hospitals and things like that,” the actor explained back in 2013. “I’ll just sneak in and go and surprise a bunch of kiddies through the different wards… it basically turns into a two-, three-hour improvisation and it’s really fun. So I travel with Captain Jack.”
In 1997, Depp made an appearance on Be Here Now, the smash hit album from Brit Pop band Oasis. He played slide guitar on the track Fade-In Out. This is something that not many people know, as his friendship with the band is a mostly long distance one. He spent a lot of time with them after contributing to a War Child charity album and they became pals.
According to Depp, Noel Gallagher sometimes plays with a white guitar that he personally gifted to him. You can tell it apart from the rest, because it has a letter ‘P’ on it. This is actually the name of another band that Johnny Depp was part of, in the early nineties.
Johnny Depp also played lead guitar and drums on Marilyn Manson’s cover of “You’re So Vain,” which appeared on Manson’s 2012 album Born Villains. The duo also performed together live at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards.
Aerosmith also put Depp to work. His voice can be heard in the backing vocals of the band’s “Freedom Fighter.”
Depp does more than just collab with famous musicians, too. He has written music, even for some of his films such as Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Chocolat.
Depp didn’t just play famed Gonzo journalist, Hunter S Thompson, in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He was actually a very close friend of the writer too. So much so that he was tasked with carrying out his final wishes, after his death in 2005.
Thompson wanted to be shot into space and his good friend Johnny did all that he could to make it happen. As part of a huge fireworks display, Depp had his ashes catapulted into the sky. He told reporters that getting to send his friend out in style meant an awful lot to him.
While he is reluctant to publically declare himself as an atheist, Depp has spoken at many atheist events and festivals. In 2016, he will a guest speaker at the Reason Rally; a gathering for atheists, freethinkers, and agnostics. When asked about his faith (or lack thereof), Depp has only said that he has faith in his children and the feeling that everything will work out fine if you keep moving forward. He describes religion as ‘not his speciality’ and is not believed to subscribe to any one faith.
“It’s insulting to say that I spent $30,000 on wine. Because it was far more,” Depp told the Rolling Stone a couple of years ago. But that’s the exact amount The Management Group — who handled his finances — said he forks over for wine each month.
He also purchased a château near the village of Plan-de-la-Tour in the south of France, which included a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed wine cave, so that he could live the oenophilic dream.
In 2016, Johnny Depp and new ex wife, Amber Heard, hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. They were caught smuggling two Yorkshire Terriers into Australia on a private plane. As the country has extremely strict laws on the movement of animals, the pair were formally charged with falsifying documents and illegally smuggling their dogs into Australia.
After a videotaped apology from Heard, the court decided to let them off with a $1,000 fine and a one month good behavior bond. The debacle has, at times, seemed to publicly frustrate Depp and he has made a number of characteristically dark comments about the fate of the dogs.
Back in 1989, a drunk Johnny Depp found himself in trouble after assaulting a hotel security guard in Canada. Apparently, police answered a noise complaint for a party at a hotel in Vancouver. The trouble started when a security guard asked the group to leave the hotel, and Depp wasn’t having it. Charges were eventually dropped, after Depp promised the judge that he’d be a good boy.
He managed to stay on his best behavior for a while, but it was only 5 years later before he found himself arrested again in 1994 — this time, for trashing a hotel room with then-girlfriend, Kate Moss. They racked up $10,000 in damages, allegedly because they were fighting.
Depp was arrested again in 1999 after a scuffle involving paparazzi outside a restaurant in London. They were photographing him when he allegedly threatened them with a wooden plank.
At the 2017 Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, Depp controversially asked, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a President?” before adding, “I want to clarify: I’m not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it’s been a while and maybe it’s time.” He then said he was “not insinuating anything.”
Shawn Holtzclaw of the Secret Service told CNN that they were “aware” of Depp’s comments, but, “for security reasons, we cannot discuss specifically nor in general terms the means and methods of how we perform our protective responsibilities.”
Depp later apologized for his controversial joke — which was clearly referencing John Wilkes Booth assassinating Abraham Lincoln.
In a number of interviews, Depp has talked about his wish for a quieter life; one that may not include more movies. He is keen to stress that he has no definite plans to retire just yet, but that he wants to slow down and think about other options for the future. He described as eventual retirement then as being ‘not that far away.’ So, fans and audiences better make the most of this quirky, ever fascinating star of the silver screen.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard married in 2015, but decided to call it quits after a short 15 months of marriage. Depp expressed that he wanted a divorce in May 2016, though Heard was the one who actually filed, citing “irreconcilable differences.” At the time, Heard alleged spousal abuse and was granted a temporary restraining order, but no criminal charges were ever filed and Depp’s lawyers alleged that she was “attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse.”
A settlement was reached in August 2016, and the divorce was finalized in January 2017. Heard dismissed the restraining order, and the two issued a joint statement saying that their “relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love.”
… And not for good reasons, exactly. Not long after his short marriage to Amber Heard dissolved, Heard wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post claiming she was a domestic abuse victim, and British tabloid The Sun published an article based on Heard’s allegations labeling Depp a “wife-beater.”
Since then, Depp and Heard have both found themselves in and out of court, after Depp decided to sue Heard for her op-ed. He also sued The Sun‘s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and executive editor Dan Wootton. Depp says the article made “defamatory allegations of the utmost seriousness,” and he has set out to prove that her allegations are complete lies.
As the case continues to drag on, several disturbing and strange details and accusations have emerged about both Depp and Heard — but only time will tell which the court will side with.