Johnny Depp Biography
John Christopher Depp III was born June 9, 1963, in Owensboro, Kentucky. The son of John Christopher, a city engineer and Betty Sue Palmer, a waitress and homemaker (Depp has a tattoo of his mother's name on his left arm), young Johnny relocated to Florida, with his three older siblings. The family moved to Florida shortly after the death of Depp's grandfather, with whom the future actor was very close.
Never the studious teenager and even more distraught by the divorce of his parents, Depp delved into the world of experimental drugs, and picked up a whole new passion: the guitar. The high-school dropout spent his days playing guitar in a garage band, after he taught himself how to play with the instrument his mother bought him.
on fire and rocking
Depp joined a rock band called The Flame, with whom he toured the Florida nightclub circuit. The Flame eventually dubbed themselves the Kids, and the band was hired as the opening act on an Iggy Pop tour. Hoping to strike a chord as famous rockers, the Kids moved to Los Angeles. Depp took a job selling ballpoint pens over the phone in order to support himself, but he and his fellow rockers decided to break up and move on.
Bigger and better things awaited Depp, who at the time was married to makeup artist Lori Allison. Their marriage was short-lived, but it did lead to something: Lori introduced Johnny to Nicolas Cage, who saw star potential in the young Depp. Thanks to their encounter, Depp was cast in his feature film debut, in the slasher Nightmare on Elm Street, in 1984.
After a starring role in the campy Private Resort, a bit part in 1986's Platoon, and acting lessons at L.A.'s Loft Studio, Depp was cast as Officer Tom Hanson in the teen crime drama, 21 Jump Street. Depp initially refused the role, but eventually accepted it and remained on the show -- and on the cover of every teen magazine -- for 3 years. To his dismay, Depp became a heartthrob posted on the wall of every teenage girl, a role he wanted no part in.
cutting away at fame
Depp was given the opportunity to prove his worth as the eccentric title role in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, in 1990. He starred in Cry-Baby that same year, and even made an appearance in the final installment of Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, in which he was credited as Oprah Noodlemantra.
The brooding actor made it a point to always take on different characterizations. He certainly never became pigeonholed, despite the oddball, wacky characters he usually portrayed, as seen in 1993's Benny & Joon and 1994's Ed Wood. Depp made Hollywood and critics take notice with his incredible portrayal of a guy tired of his small-town lifestyle in 1993's What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
While his work in 1995's Don Juan DeMarco and Nick of Time didn't garner much attention, Depp was highly praised for his turn as an FBI undercover agent who infiltrates the mob opposite Al Pacino, in 1997's Donnie Brasco. He also took time to write, direct and star in The Brave that year.
In 1998, Depp starred as the alter ego of buddy Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, co-starring Benicio Del Toro, and tried his hand at sci-fi in 1999's The Astronaut's Wife, along with gorgeous Charlize Theron. He re-teamed with Tim Burton to star in the magnificently gothic adaptation of the Halloween legend, 1999's Sleepy Hollow, in a brilliant portrayal of constable Ichabod Crane.
Depp began the year with roles in The Man Who Cried (co-starring good friend Christina Ricci), Before Night Falls, and the small film that could, Chocolat, as a gypsy who falls for Juliette Binoche.
a deep black book
While Depp has had his share of beautiful co-stars, he also had a wide variety of leading ladies in his own life, such as ex-fiancées Sherilyn Fenn, Jennifer Grey and Winona Ryder, with whom he was engaged for three years. The tattoo in honor of his Edward Scissorhands co-star once read Winona Forever; it has since been laser-altered to read Wino Forever. Besides Winona, Depp's most famous ex-fiancée is Kate Moss. Depp and the waifish model were engaged from 1995 to 1997, and had an on again, off again relationship.
Depp presently shares a house in France with Vanessa Paradis, a French actress and singer, and the mother of their daughter, Lily-Rose Melody, born in 1999. The only reason Depp is ever away from home is in order to fulfill his film contracts; he loves his daughter so much that he doesn't even keep a picture of her in his wallet, for fear of it crinkling.
Despite Depp's critical acclaim as an actor, he has surprisingly never won an Oscar, although he has been honored with the 1990 ShoWest Male Star of Tomorrow award, the 1996 London Critics Circle Actor of the Year award for Ed Wood and the 1998 Honorary Cesar.
And even with Depp's acclaim as one of his generation's best actors, his name has had its share of tabloid smears, especially after River Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993 outside the Viper Room, the club Depp owns. Depp also became tabloid fodder when he was arrested for trashing the presidential suite of a Manhattan hotel in 1994 -- he finally paid over $2,000 worth of damages.
His bad rep behind him, Depp got rave reviews for his portrayal of George Jung in 2001's Blow. He rounded up 2001 with the Jack the Ripper film, From Hell, alongside Heather Graham, and will next be seen in Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon a Time in Mexico.