Johnny Depp is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood.
He was born John Christopher Depp II in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 9, 1963, to Betty Sue (Wells), who worked as a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer.
Depp was raised in Florida. He dropped out of school when he was 15, and fronted a series of music-garage bands, including one named ‘The Kids’. However, it was when he married Lori Anne Allison (Lori A. Depp) that he took up the job of being a ballpoint-pen salesman to support himself and his wife. A visit to Los Angeles, California, with his wife, however, happened to be a blessing in disguise, when he met up with actorNicolas Cage, who advised him to turn to acting, which culminated in Depp’s film debut in the low-budget horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), where he played a teenager who falls prey to dream-stalking demon Freddy Krueger.
In 1987 he shot to stardom when he replaced Jeff Yagher in the role of undercover cop Tommy Hanson in the popular TV series 21 Jump Street (1987).
In 1990, after numerous roles in teen-oriented films, his first of a handful of great collaborations with director Tim Burton came about when Depp played the title role inEdward Scissorhands (1990). Following the film’s success, Depp carved a niche for himself as a serious, somewhat dark, idiosyncratic performer, consistently selecting roles that surprised critics and audiences alike. He continued to gain critical acclaim and increasing popularity by appearing in many features before re-joining with Burton in the lead role of Ed Wood (1994). In 1997 he played an undercover FBI agent in the fact-based film Donnie Brasco (1997), opposite Al Pacino; in 1998 he appeared in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), directed by Terry Gilliam; and then, in 1999, he appeared in the sci-fi/horror film The Astronaut’s Wife (1999). The same year he teamed up again with Burton in Sleepy Hollow (1999), brilliantly portraying Ichabod Crane.
Depp has played many characters in his career, including another fact-based one, Insp. Fred Abberline in From Hell (2001). He stole the show from screen greats such asAntonio Banderas in the finale to Robert Rodriguez’s “mariachi” trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003). In that same year he starred in the marvelous family blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), playing a character that only the likes of Depp could pull off: the charming, conniving and roguish Capt. Jack Sparrow. The film’s enormous success has opened several doors for his career and included an Oscar nomination. He appeared as the central character in theStephen King-based movie, Secret Window (2004); as the kind-hearted novelist James Barrie in the factually-based Finding Neverland (2004), where he co-starred with Kate Winslet; and Rochester in the British film, The Libertine (2004). Depp collaborated again with Burton in a screen adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and later in Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Dark Shadows(2012).
Off-screen, Depp has dated several female celebrities, and has been engaged toSherilyn Fenn, Jennifer Grey, Winona Ryder and Kate Moss. He was married to Lori Anne Allison in 1983 but they divorced her in 1985. Depp has two children with French singer-actress Vanessa Paradis: Lily-Rose Melody, born in 1999 and Jack, born in 2002
Is it inevitable that successful Hollywood actors become caricatures of themselves? It happened to Brando, Nicholson and De Niro. And now it’s happening to Johnny Depp.
Not long ago, Depp seemed the very model of a thinking person’s film star – a bit quirky, more like an old-fashioned rock musician than a movie star ironed flat by the PR machine. He trashed hotel rooms, got into punch-ups with paparazzi, hung out with funky chicks like Winona Ryder and Kate Moss, accrued tattoos, played guitar and guested on The Fast Show.
It didn’t hurt that Brando hailed him as “the most talented actor of his generation”. And he made offbeat choices in his roles, many of which paid off. Until Pirates of the Caribbean, he wasn’t quite A-list, but he was way too cool to be consigned to the Bs and Cs.
But as Depp passes the half century mark, his separation from Vanessa Paradis and engagement to Amber Heard have turned him into tabloid fodder, a role that doesn’t suit him at all. His whimsical performance as Tonto with a dead crow on his head was blamed for the poor box-office of The Lone Ranger (though that movie was a lot more fun than many critics would have had you believe). Even his red carpet choices are coming in for stick: battered hats, tinted shades and dodgy facial hair can seem charmingly boho on a young actor, but on an older one they start looking a bt desperate. Oh Johnny, where did it go wrong?
John Christopher Depp II made his screen debut in 1984, puked out by a bed in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and blended into Platoon’s pretty boy harem before the TV show 21 Jump Street put him on the map – though not so much in the UK, where it only turned up on satellite later on. So it was no big deal for us on this side of the Atlantic when he subverted his teen idol status by playing a delinquent greaser with a facial tattoo in John Waters’ Cry-Baby.