|Real Name:||John Christopher Depp II|
|Birthplace:||Owensboro, Kentucky, U.S.|
John Christopher Depp II (born June 9, 1963) is an American actor, producer, musician, and painter. He is the recipient of multiple accolades, including a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, in addition to nominations for three Academy Awards and two BAFTAs.
Depp made his debut in the horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), before rising to prominence as a teen idol on the television series 21 Jump Street (1987–1990). In the 1990s, Depp acted mostly in independent films, often playing eccentric characters. These included What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Benny and Joon (1993), Dead Man (1995), Donnie Brasco (1997), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). Depp also began collaborating with director Tim Burton, starring in Edward Scissorhands (1990), Ed Wood (1994), and Sleepy Hollow (1999).
In the 2000s, Depp became one of the most commercially successful film stars by playing Captain Jack Sparrow in the Walt Disney swashbuckler film series Pirates of the Caribbean (2003–2017). He received critical praise for Finding Neverland (2004) and continued his commercially successful collaboration with Tim Burton with the films Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), where he portrayed Willy Wonka, Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Alice in Wonderland (2010).
Johnny Depp Biography
John Christopher Depp II
June 9, 1963
Owensboro, Kentucky, U.S.
|Partner(s)||Vanessa Paradis (1998–2012)|
|Children||2, including Lily-Rose|
Table of Contents
Early life and ancestry (Johnny Depp Biography)
John Christopher Depp II was born on June 9, 1963, in Owensboro, Kentucky, the youngest of four children of waitress Betty Sue Palmer (née Wells) and civil engineer John Christopher Depp. Depp’s family moved frequently during his childhood, eventually settling in Miramar, Florida, in 1970. His parents divorced in 1978 when he was 15, and his mother later married Robert Palmer, whom Depp has called “an inspiration”.
Depp’s mother gave him a guitar when he was 12, and he began playing in various bands. He dropped out of Miramar High School at 16 in 1979 to become a rock musician. He attempted to go back to school two weeks later, but the principal told him to follow his dream of being a musician. In 1980, Depp began playing in a band called The Kids. After modest local success in Florida, the band moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a record deal, changing its name to Six Gun Method. In addition to the band, Depp worked a variety of odd jobs, such as telemarketing. In December 1983, Depp married makeup artist Lori Anne Allison, the sister of his band’s bassist and singer. The Kids split up before signing a record deal in 1984, and Depp began collaborating with the band Rock City Angels. He co-wrote their song “Mary”, which appeared on their debut Geffen Records album Young Man’s Blues. Depp and Allison divorced in 1985.
Depp is of primarily English descent, with some French, German, Irish, and West African ancestry. His surname comes from a French Huguenot immigrant, Pierre Dieppe, who settled in Virginia around 1700. He is also descended from colonial freedom fighter Elizabeth Key Grinstead (1630–1665), daughter of English planter and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses Thomas Key, and an enslaved black woman. In interviews in 2002 and 2011, Depp claimed to have Native American ancestry, saying: “I guess I have some Native American somewhere down the line. My great-grandmother was quite a bit Native American. She grew up Cherokee or maybe Creek Indian. Makes sense in terms of coming from Kentucky, which is rife with Cherokee and Creek Indian”. Depp’s claims came under scrutiny when Indian Country Today wrote that Depp had never inquired about his heritage or been recognized as a member of the Cherokee Nation. This led to criticism from the Native American community, as Depp has no documented Native ancestry, and Native community leaders consider him “a non-Indian”. Depp’s choice to portray Tonto, a Native American character, in The Lone Ranger was criticized, along with his choice to name his rock band “Tonto’s Giant Nuts”. During the promotion for The Lone Ranger, Depp was adopted as an honorary son by LaDonna Harris, a member of the Comanche Nation, making him an honorary member of her family but not a member of any tribe. Critical response to his claims from the Native community increased after this, including satirical portrayals of Depp by Native comedians. Dior’s ad featuring Depp and Native American imagery for the fragrance “Sauvage” was pulled in 2019 after being accused of cultural appropriation and racism.
Career (Johnny Depp Biography)
1984–1989: Early roles and 21 Jump Street
Depp moved to Los Angeles with his band when he was 20. After the band split up, Depp’s then-wife Lori Ann Allison introduced him to actor Nicolas Cage. After they became drinking buddies, Cage advised him to pursue acting. Depp had been interested in acting since reading a biography of James Dean and watching Rebel Without a Cause. Cage helped Depp get an audition with Wes Craven for A Nightmare on Elm Street; Depp, who had no acting experience, said he “ended up acting by accident”. Thanks in part to his catching the eye of Craven’s daughter, Depp landed the role of the main character’s boyfriend, one of Freddy Krueger’s victims.
1990–2002: Independent films and first collaborations with Tim Burton
Disillusioned by his experiences as a teen idol in 21 Jump Street, Depp began taking roles he found more interesting, rather than those he thought would succeed at the box office. His first film released in 1990 was John Waters’s Cry-Baby, a musical comedy set in the 1950s. Although not a box-office success upon its release, it has gained cult classic status over the years. Also in 1990, Depp played the title character in Tim Burton’s romantic fantasy film Edward Scissorhands opposite Dianne Wiest and Winona Ryder. The film was a commercial and critical success with a domestic gross of $53 million. In preparation for the role, Depp watched many Charlie Chaplin films to study how to create sympathy without dialogue. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised Depp’s performance, writing that he “artfully expresses the fierce longing in gentle Edward; it’s a terrific performance”, while Rita Kempley of The Washington Post wrote that he “brings the eloquence of the silent era to this part of few words, saying it all through bright black eyes and the tremulous care with which he holds his horror-movie hands”. Depp earned his first Golden Globe nomination for the film.
2003–2011: Pirates of the Caribbean, commercial and critical success
In 2003, Depp starred in the Walt Disney Pictures adventure film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which was a major box office success. He earned widespread acclaim for his comic performance as pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, received Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA nominations, and won a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Best Actor as well as an MTV Movie Award. Depp has said that Sparrow is “definitely a big part of me”, and that he modeled the character after The Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and cartoon skunk Pepé Le Pew. Studio executives had at first been ambivalent about Depp’s portrayal, but the character became popular with audiences. In his other film release in 2003, Robert Rodriguez’s action film Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Depp played a corrupt CIA agent. A moderate box-office success, it received average to good reviews, with Depp’s performance, in particular, receiving praise.
2012–2020: Career setbacks
By 2012, Depp was one of the world’s biggest film stars and was listed by the Guinness World Records as the world’s highest-paid actor, with earnings of US$75 million. That year, he and his 21 Jump Street co-stars Peter DeLuise and Holly Robinson reprised their roles in cameo appearances in the series’ feature film adaptation. Depp also starred in and co-produced his eighth film with Tim Burton, Dark Shadows (2012), alongside Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Eva Green. The film was based on a 1960s Gothic television soap opera of the same name, which had been one of his favorites as a child. The film’s poor reception in the United States brought Depp’s star appeal into question.
2021–2022: Big-Screen Return and multiple European film awards
In March 2021, City of Lies, which was originally scheduled for 2018, was released in theaters and streaming services. The same month, an online petition to bring Depp back to the Pirates franchise, begun four months earlier, reached its goal of 500,000 signatures. His Pirates co-star Kevin McNally also expressed support for Depp returning to the role. In July 2021, Andrew Levitas, the director of Minamata (2020), accused MGM of trying to bury the film due to Depp’s involvement, with Depp claiming he is being boycotted by the Hollywood industry and calling his changed reputation an “absurdity of media mathematics”. Minamata was released in the UK and Ireland in August 2021, and in North America in December 2021. The film received positive reviews, with multiple publications praising Depp’s performance as his best in years. Depp also continues as the face of Dior’s men’s fragrance, Sauvage.
Other ventures (Johnny Depp Biography)
In 2004, Depp founded the film production company Infinitum Nihil to develop projects where he will serve as an actor or producer. He serves as its CEO, while his sister, Christi Dembrowski, serves as president. The company’s first two film releases were The Rum Diary (2011) and Hugo (2011).
Depp co-owned the nightclub The Viper Room in Los Angeles from 1993–to 2003, and the restaurant bar Man Ray in Paris. Depp and Douglas Brinkley edited folk singer Woody Guthrie’s novel House of Earth, which was published in 2013.
Prior to his acting career, Depp was a guitarist and has later featured on songs by Oasis, Shane MacGowan, Iggy Pop, Vanessa Paradis, Aerosmith, Marilyn Manson, and The New Basement Tapes, among others. He also performed with Manson at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in 2012. Depp played guitar on the soundtrack of his films Chocolat and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and has appeared in music videos for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Lemonheads, Avril Lavigne, and Paul McCartney. In the 1990s, he was also a member of P, a musical group featuring Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, and Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones.
In 2015, Depp formed the supergroup Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry; the band also includes Bruce Witkin, his friend from his 1980s band, The Kids. Hollywood Vampires released their self-titled debut studio album in September 2015. It featured eleven classic rock covers, as well as three original songs (all co-written by Depp). The band made its live debut at The Roxy in Los Angeles in September 2015 and has since done two world tours in 2016 and 2018. Their second studio album, Rise, was released in June 2019 and consists mostly of original material, including songs written by Depp. The album also features a cover version of David Bowie’s “Heroes”, sung by Depp. In 2020, Depp released a cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation” with guitarist Jeff Beck and stated that they would be releasing more music together in the future.
Reception and public image (Johnny Depp Biography)
In the 1990s, Depp was seen as a new type of male film star that rejected the norms of that role. After becoming a teen idol in 21 Jump Street, he publicly protested against the image, and with his subsequent film and public relations choices began to cultivate a new public persona. According to journalist Hadley Freeman:
“Along with Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, he was part of a holy trinity of grunge heart-throbs. They were the opposite of the Beverly Hills, 90210 boys, or Brad Pitt and DiCaprio, because they seemed embarrassed by their looks, even resentful of them. …This uninterest in their own prettiness made them seem edgy, even while their prettiness softened that edge. They signified not just a different kind of celebrity, but a different kind of masculinity: desirable but gentle, manly but girlish. Depp in particular was the cool pinup it was safe to like, and the safe pinup it was cool to like. We fans understood that there was more to Depp, Phoenix and Reeves than handsomeness. They were artistic—they had bands!—and they thought really big thoughts, which they would ramble on about confusingly in interviews. If we dated them, we understood that our role would be to understand their souls.”
Personal life (Johnny Depp Biography)
Depp and makeup artist Lori Anne Allison were married from 1983 until 1985. In the late 1980s, he was engaged to actresses Jennifer Grey and Sherilyn Fenn before proposing in 1990 to his Edward Scissorhands co-star Winona Ryder, for whom he tattooed “WINONA FOREVER” on his right arm. Between 1994 and 1997, he was in a relationship with English model Kate Moss. Following his breakup with Moss, Depp began a relationship with French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis, whom he met while filming The Ninth Gate in France in 1998. They have two children, daughter Lily-Rose Melody Depp (born 1999) and son John Christopher “Jack” Depp III (born 2002). Depp stated that having children has given him a “real foundation, a real strong place to stand in life, in work, in everything …You cannot plan the kind of deep love that results in children. Fatherhood was not a conscious decision. It was part of the wonderful ride I was on. It was destiny. All the math finally worked”. Depp and Paradis announced that they had separated in June 2012.
Amber Heard (Johnny Depp Biography)
Following the end of his relationship with Vanessa Paradis, Depp began dating actress Amber Heard, with whom he had co-starred in The Rum Diary (2011). The couple married in a civil ceremony in February 2015. Heard filed for divorce in May 2016 and obtained a temporary restraining order against Depp, alleging in her court declaration that he had been verbally and physically abusive throughout their relationship, usually while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Depp denied these claims and alleged that she was “attempting to secure a premature financial resolution”. A settlement was reached in August 2016, and the divorce was finalized in January 2017. Heard dismissed the restraining order, and they issued a joint statement saying that their “relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm”. Depp paid Heard a settlement of US$7 million, which she pledged to donate to the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).
In 2018, Depp brought a libel lawsuit in the UK against News Group Newspapers (NGN), publishers of The Sun, which had called him a “wife beater” in an April 2018 article. The case had a highly publicized trial in July 2020, with both Depp and Heard testifying for several days. In November 2020, the High Court of Justice ruled that 12 of the 14 incidents of violence claimed by Heard were “substantially true”. The court rejected Depp’s claim of a hoax and accepted that the allegations Heard had made against Depp had damaged her career and activism. Following the verdict, Depp resigned from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, after being asked to do so by its production company, Warner Bros.
Alcohol and drug use
Depp has struggled with alcoholism and addiction for much of his life. He has stated that he began using drugs by taking his mother’s “nerve pills” at the age of 11, was smoking at age 12 and by the age of 14 had used “every kind of drugs there were”. In a 1997 interview, Depp acknowledged past abuse of alcohol during the filming of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993). In a 2008 interview, Depp stated that he had “poisoned” himself with alcohol “for years”. In 2013, Depp declared that he had stopped drinking alcohol, adding that he “pretty much got everything [he] could get out of it”; Depp also said, “I investigated wine and spirits thoroughly, and they certainly investigated me as well, and we found out that we got along beautifully, but maybe too well”. Regarding his breakup with longtime partner Vanessa Paradis, Depp said that he “definitely wasn’t going to rely on the drink to ease things or cushion the blow or cushion the situation …[because] that could have been fatal”.
According to his ex-wife, Amber Heard, Depp “plunged into the depths of paranoia and violence after binging on drugs and alcohol” during their relationship between 2013–2016. In a 2018 Rolling Stone profile of Depp, reporter Stephen Rodrick wrote that he had used hashish in his presence and described him as “alternately hilarious, sly and incoherent”; Depp also said that the allegation made by his former business managers that he had spent US$30,000 per month on wine was “insulting” because he had spent “far more” than that amount. During his 2020 libel trial, Depp admitted to having been addicted to Roxicodone and alcohol as well as used other substances such as MDMA and cocaine during his relationship with Heard.
Legal issues (Johnny Depp Biography)
Depp was arrested in Vancouver in 1989 for assaulting a security guard after the police were called to end a loud party at his hotel room. He was also arrested in New York City in 1994 after causing significant damage to his room at The Mark Hotel, where he was staying with Kate Moss, his girlfriend. The charges were dropped against him after he agreed to pay US$9,767 in damages. Depp was arrested again in 1999 for brawling with paparazzi outside a restaurant while dining in London with Paradis.
In 2012, disabled UC Irvine medical professor Robin Eckert sued Depp and three security firms, claiming to have been attacked by his bodyguards at a concert in Los Angeles in 2011. She was allegedly hand-cuffed and dragged 40 feet across the floor during the incident, resulting in injuries including a dislocated elbow. She argued in court that, as the security guards’ direct manager, Depp failed to intervene, even though he did not take part in the battery. Before the case went to trial, Depp settled with Eckert for an undisclosed sum, according to TMZ.
In November 2016, Depp joined the campaign Imprisoned for Art to call for the release of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was being held in custody in Russia.
At the Glastonbury Festival 2017, Depp, criticizing President Donald Trump, asked: “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? 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 added, “I’m not insinuating anything”. The comment was interpreted as a reference to John Wilkes Booth, the actor who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Shawn Holtzclaw of the Secret Service told CNN they were aware of Depp’s comment, but that “[f]or security reasons, we cannot discuss specifically nor in general terms the means and methods of how we perform our protective responsibilities”. Depp apologized shortly afterward, saying the remark “did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice”.
Filmography and accolades (Johnny Depp Biography)
by Shane MacGowan & The Popes
|“That Woman’s Got Me Drinking”|
|Guitar, bass, & background vocals|
|1997||Be Here Now
“Fade Away (Warchild Version)” (B-side)
by Iggy Pop
|“Hollywood Affair” (B-side)|
by Vanessa Paradis
|“St. Germain” —writing credit,
“Bliss” —writing credit,
“They’re Red Hot”,
|2003||Once Upon a Time in Mexico||“Sands’ Theme” —composer/producer|
|2007||Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street||Various|
by Glenn Tilbrook & The Fluffers
|“Too Close to the Sun”|
|2010||“I Put a Spell on You” (single)
by Shane MacGowan & Friends
|2011||The Rum Diary—Soundtrack
|“Kemp in the Village” —producer/composer/guitar
“Mermaid Song” —piano
|From Gainsbourg to Lulu
by Lulu Gainsbourg
|“Ballade de Melody Nelson” —guitars, bass, drums, & duet with Vanessa Paradis|
|The Pleasures of Self Destruction
|“The Jesus Stag Night Club”|
|2012||Aerosmith: Music from Another Dimension!
by Marilyn Manson
|“You’re So Vain”|
by Jup & Rob Jackson
|West of Memphis: Voices of Justice—Soundtrack
|“Little Lion Man”
“Damien Echols Death Row Letter Year 16”
|2013||Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys
|“The Mermaid” by Patti Smith —guitar|
|The Manhattan Blues Project
by Steve Hunter
|“The Brooklyn Shuffle”|
by Vanessa Paradis
|The Lone Ranger: Wanted (Music Inspired By the Film)
|“Poor Paddy on the Railway” —guitar
“Sweet Betsy from Pike” —arrangement
|2014||Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes
by The New Basement Tapes
|Into the Woods—Motion Picture Soundtrack||“Hello, Little Girl”|
by Hollywood Vampires
|Guitar, backing vocals, keyboard & sound design|
|Afraid of Ghosts
by Butch Walker