John Christopher "Johnny" Depp II (born June 6, 1963) is an American actor on a career decline. Once the pretty boy star of 21 Jump Street and then cheeky Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, Depp has since seen his box office slip beneath the waters with a series of screen clunkers including The Lone Ranger. Now he is filling up the tabloids with lurid tales of his third marriage to Amber Heard.
Depp has had a long film career and an extended exile in France where he married singer Vanessa Paradis. He managed a turn to middle age with his recurring role of Captain Jack Sparrow with a gravel level British English accent (rented from Keith Richards). Convinced he was now funny and gold-plated, Depp believed his publicists and his seen his career slide down the plug hole.
Early life and nascent career
Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, John "Johnny" Christopher Depp (the second of his name) grew up wanting to be a boyband singer. With his then-cute features and with the sort of face an older sister couldn't resist to try her make-up on, Depp played guitar and sang with local bands. If he had stuck to that, there is a good chance Depp would have turned up gurning for an MTV-friendly act. But fate took a different route, and he met Nicolas Cage. Seeing someone with even less thespian talent than himself, Cage gave Depp some actor-friendly contacts and he was off.
Depp first had to fend off the exploratory hands of both male and female producers before he got his first main billing role in 21 Jump Street. He was an immediate "lust for" object of male and female fantasies. Depp said he became uncomfortable knowing that his poster pictures would stare out at "fans" exploring their own bodies to fit in with his. So he quit and looked for something edgier to appear in. Enter Tim Burton and a film role about a boy with clipper mitts.
Edward Scissor Sister Hands
Dressed like a goth reject, the mascara-eyed Depp played Edward Nipper-Clippers. He was an incomplete boy when his creator ran out of money to build a pair of hands and instead screwed in scissors as replacements. Edward was designed to work in a hair salon. His love interest was played by a hollow-eyed Winona Ryder. In typical Burton style, the film was a chore to bum ache watching through, but it was a major hit all the same.
Depp had become a star and to match his new status, chose to date Ryder as his real love interest. She was surprised as she thought her love munchkin wasn't interested in women. Depp however was struck by Ryder and personally tattooed her name on his body as a permanent token of affection. Yet it was being had. Ryder declined to match Depp's interest and preferred to go on a cashless shopping spree instead, until she was caught in the act and then jailed in daytime soap TV for five years.
Kate Moss and Going French
Depp found a few more film roles, urgently needed to finance the removal of his tattoos declaring everlasting love to Winona. His next move was to snuggle up to the British model Kate Moss whose grungy, drugged-up-to-the-eyes look was all the rage in the 1990s. It was also around this time that Depp played one of Hollywood's worst film directors Ed Wood, a transvestite and Pacific War veteran. The film got good reviews and a couple of Oscars. Depp however missed out, as the film's supporting actor Martin Landau garnered an Oscar for his impersonation of Bela Lugosi.
Depp felt rejected by Hollywood and his relationship with Moss broke down. Another trip to the tattoo parlor was required. However there was a change, Depp discovered the French loved him. He was their new Jerry Lewis, an actor unloved in his home country but adored in the land of fine cheese and wine. As a reward for Depp going "Francais", he was granted an indefinite visa and the pick of any French actress/performer who took his fancy. To the surprise of many, he choose the petite, wrinkled-nosed Vanessa Paradis as his amour. A deal was struck.
Critical success but nothing in the bank
By the end of the 1990s and living in France, Depp's phone ceased to ring as he refused to return to Hollywood. He became "Monsieur Paradis" to the French media or was obliged to earn pin money at the BBC appearing in comedy sketches by the Fast Show. America no longer loved him and he no longer loved it. He was now a family man but his cute boy looks were fading. He needed a new career boost. The answer was piracy.
Long fascinated by the pirate antics of Adam and the Ants and his swashbuckler look of the 1980s, Depp bought his own pirate duds. He played with accents, trying to sound like Robert Newton in Treasure Island but the "Jim Lad" stuff didn't sit fine. Then one day a traveling Rolling Stone gave him the perfect accent. Keith Richards's croaky London voice, with an added mix of Mid-Atlantic, seemed perfect. Depp would earn his crust as a Keith Richard impersonator.
It was in 2003 that by chance Disneyland were looking for a novel way of promoting one of their theme rides Pirates of the Caribbean. They wanted to get away from the earlier Peter Pan approach and wanted something more adult sex orientated. The film would feature the usual RADA-trained British actors but required an American lead to get the money men connected. Depp — with his faux-Stones Brit accent — was about as close to anyone in Hollywood could get to sound at least not Valley Girl American, so he got the role of cheeky Jack Sparrow. The rest, they say, was franchise.
Down the Swanee
A slew of pirate films followed as Depp saw his career go into renewed orbit. He was now an A-lister again and women loved his cheeky Jack persona. He let his roguish on-screen persona to leak back into his personal life and so decided to end his marriage to Vanessa Paridis. A sequence of younger starlets with younger breasts gained his interest and so Johnny hooked up with Amber Heard after they worked together on a rubbish film with a nautical edge known as a The Rum Diary.
Lone Ranger, Dogs, and Divorce
Depp's supposed box office appeal was badly dented when his Jack-Sparrow-as-Tonto in The Long Ranger tanked at the box office. Suddenly, the phone calls stopped and soon Depp was asked to lower his price and work in some creative productions (i.e. poor or no pay) to get back in the A-list. He moved to Australia with Amber but thought it was too much bother to notify the authorities that they were bringing in a few dogs in the undeclared baggage. Nothing was known about this until a local paparazzi flew a drone over the rented estate and spied Amber's yappers trying to escape a glass door.
The Australian government said Depp and Heard had broken the law and would have to work their passage back home via a chain gang. Depp claimed it was all an accident and then agreed to appear in a North Korean-style confession video warning everyone else about the dangers of bringing your pets to Australia. Viewers said it was one of Depp's best performance, though said Amber Heard (who was also on the video) had fluffed her lines. The majority hoped both would be shot but instead they were expelled.
Once back in the USA, Depp took to the rum bottle and had tried to make Heard walk the plank across the swimming pool. She fell in, blamed Depp, and sued for divorce.