Few actors are as celebrated and decorated as Johnny Depp, and for good reason! Johnny’s tremendous talent and dedication to acting have made him a worldwide icon. Nowadays though, Depp has become a relatively polarizing figure, as allegations and rumors swirl around the once universally-beloved actor. How much is true? It's hard to say. Still, there's no doubting the man is a fascinating individual. Here are 45 of our favorite facts about Johnny Depp.
Johnny Depp was a huge star in the 90s, appearing in a number of critically acclaimed films before becoming a big box office draw in the 2000s with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. But what started it all? Depp first became famous on the TV show 21 Jump Street. It made him a heartthrob, but his frustration with the formulaic series led to some pretty bizarre behavior.
Depp began putting forth ridiculous suggestions for his character to the producers, including one plot where his character developed an unhealthy obsession with peanut butter. It would culminate with the other characters discovering him smearing PB all over his naked body.
Speaking of bringing his own unique creative min to his roles, Depp did something of the same thing for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He wanted his character Jack Sparrow to have gold teeth, but he predicted that film execs wouldn't be into the idea. What did he do? He told his dentist to implant more gold teeth as a bargaining tool.
As such, Sparrow's final number of gold teeth in the movie was what Depp had envisioned all along.
Johnny Depp had a tumultuous family life growing up—and his way of dealing with it was utterly heartbreaking. After his parents divorced, he began to cut himself as a way to deal with the pain, which resulted in self-inflicted scars that he still has today. In a 1993 interview, he compared them to the tattoos that sailors would get to commemorate certain milestones in life.
Depp dropped out of school at age 15 in the hopes of becoming a rock musician. But just two weeks after dropping out, he changed his mind and went back to school, only to find that the principal would not accept him back—but not for the reasons many would think. He actually advised Depp to pursue his musical aspirations.
Without Nicolas Cage, we might not have Johnny Depp. The pair met when Depp visited Los Angeles as a young musician with Lori Allison, his first wife. Allison knew Cage and introduced the two. Cage then advised Depp to pursue acting instead of music.
When we think of Depp's romantic life, we might think of his tumultuous divorce from Amber Heard (more on that later), but Depp has had his fair share of tumultuous relationships long before Heard came into the picture. Depp actually got married for the first time all the way back in 1983 when he was just 20 years old, to a woman named Lori Allison. She was the sister of his bandmate.
The pair divorced in 1985, but it certainly didn't scare Depp off the concept of marriage. He proposed to each of his next three girlfriends: Jennifer Grey, Sherilyn Fenn, and Winona Ryder. However, none of the engagements lasted.
Johnny Depp has a long-standing working relationship with director Tim Burton, and it all began when Depp starred in Edward Scissorhands. After the success of that film, Johnny made a decision to never repeat the same characters but to always challenge himself with new and different roles to play. At least, until Jack Sparrow came along...
Even though acting became his calling, Depp's interest in music never faded. He has actually recorded with British band Oasis twice. Most notably, he plays lead slide guitar on the track "Fade In-Out" from the 1997 album Be Here Now—but he did it for a hilarious reason. Noel Gallagher, Oasis's lead guitarist, was allegedly too drunk to perform it himself, so celebrity pal Depp stepped in and nailed the lead on one take.
Depp began dating British supermodel Kate Moss in 1994, and the pair instantly became the target of tabloid scandal. Soon after they began dating, there was an incident where Depp had a blowout fight with Moss and was alleged to have been quite drunk. He was then arrested on suspicion of criminal mischief after trashing his $1,200-a-night room at New York City's Mark Hotel.
However, after the arrest, Depp came up with an utterly bizarre explanation for that night.
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Depp insisted that he wasn't the one to trash the hotel, and presented the following tale. He claimed that an armadillo had popped out of the closet in his hotel room. According to Depp, the wild animal freaked out, causing a rampage that destroyed the hotel room, before ultimately leaping out the window.
Johnny Depp met French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis in 1998, and according to him, it was love at first sight. He said, "[She] walked towards me, directly at me, and just said 'Hi.' And then I just knew, you know, it's over with." Paradis and Depp were together for 14 years and had two kids together: Lily-Rose Melody Depp and John "Jack" Christopher Depp III.
Depp has always been outspoken, but he once got into trouble after an inflammatory quote of his appeared in Germany's Stern magazine. He was quoted as saying "America is dumb, is something like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive." He later said they had taken his comments out of context.
The first Pirates of the Caribbean film debuted in 2003, with Johnny Depp in the leading role as Captain Jack Sparrow. With his drunken antics, swaggering confidence, and proto-rock and roll style, many fans were quick to point out the similarities between Depp's character and Rolling Stones member Keith Richards. Depp confirmed that Richards was his inspiration—along with another, more bizarre figure: cartoon skunk Pepé Le Pew.
Either way, it worked, and the film was a massive success that it turned into a huge franchise. Its sequel earned Depp his first Oscar nomination.
In 2007, Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis lived through every parent's nightmare. Their daughter Lily-Rose suffered from a serious E. coli infection that caused her kidneys to shut down. When she was sick, she stayed at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, and after release, Depp showed his gratitude by visiting the hospital in his Captain Jack Sparrow costume and reading stories to children there.
On top of that, he donated $2 million the next year.
When Heath Ledger died, he had been in the middle of shooting a film called The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. The fate of the film was in jeopardy, but filmmaker Terry Gilliam was saved when Depp and fellow actors Jude Law and Colin Farrell came to the rescue. The movie was rewritten so that all three actors could play Ledger's character, effectively saving Ledger's final project—but they also made an even more heartbreaking gesture.
All three actors donated their salaries from the film to Matilda, Ledger's daughter. However, there was an even stranger twist to the story.
Director Terry Gilliam had been touched by Depp, Law, and Farrell's willingness to help complete Ledger's final film. Depp had worked with Gilliam before, and Law and Farrell were both friends with Ledger. But then, all of a sudden, he found himself inundated with offers from others who wanted to attach their names to Ledger's—including none other than Tom Cruise.
Gilliam ended up having to reject offers of help from anyone who hadn't been friends with Ledger when he was alive.
Although Depp has emphasized the importance of variety in his films, he has worked with one director more than any other. Depp and Tim Burton have worked together eight times in the films Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd, Alice In Wonderland and Dark Shadows.
Their connection goes much deeper than their successful films. Depp wrote the foreword to Mark Salisbury's biography of the quirky director, Burton on Burton. He credits Burton's belief in him for rescuing him from being "a loser, an outcast, just another piece of expendable Hollywood meat."
Despite several critically acclaimed roles, the actor has never won an Oscar. He has been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar three times, for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Finding Neverland (2004), and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).
In 2015, Johnny Depp, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, and shock rocker Alice Cooper formed a band that they named Hollywood Vampires. The name of the band was derived from The Hollywood Vampires, a celebrity drinking club that was formed in the 1970s by Alice Cooper which included members such as Ringo Starr of The Beatles and Keith Moon of The Who.
While filming the movie The Lone Ranger, Depp was involved in a terrifying and dangerous incident—and actually credits a horse with saving his life. Depp fell out of the saddle while filming a scene, and Scout, the stunt horse, dragged him for 25 feet before jumping over the actor to avoid trampling him. A clip of the fall shows the horse clearly jumping over Depp, and detaching him from the saddle.
Depp suffered only minor bruises and scrapes, but says it could have been a lot worse if the horse had stepped on him.
Depp is known to be a man of his promises. He once met a 12-year old boy named Jack Taylor in Wisconsin while making a movie. After the boy complimented Depp's hat, the actor promised him that he'd send it to him as soon as filming was over. Not only did he send the hat, he also sent an entire package of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory memorabilia along with a signed note that read “Here is a hat for you. Hope you like this and assorted fun bits.”
As host of the Golden Globes, Ricky Gervais became known for his sharp and cutting opening monologues. In 2011, Depp was the target of one of his jokes, where he made fun of the film The Tourist. Depp looked unhappy, but soon enough, he got his revenge. He appeared on Gervais' HBO show Life's Too Short and asked the question "What is nastier than Ricky Gervais' jokes?"
The answer? "His teeth."
Remember how Depp claimed to be influenced by Keith Richards and Pepé Le Pew when it came time to play Captain Jack Sparrow? Well, when Depp was cast as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he found an even more bizarre source of inspiration. Depp said that he based his character on how he imagined former US President George W. Bush would act while stoned.
Johnny Depp actually has a fossil named after him. A British scientist David Legg found a 505 million-year-old fossil that reminded him of Edward Scissorhands—even down to its large, scissor-like claws. Being a fan of Depp, he decided to name the fossil Kooteninchela deppi, naturally.
In 2010, a story began to float around that Depp had almost been mugged—until the mugger recognized him and, as the tale goes, said, “I ain’t stealing from Captain Jack” before backing off. However, there was more to the story than that. Depp ended up giving the man some of the money he was carrying anyway.
Depp may have a tough-guy image, but that all melts away when it comes to his kids. Depp actually shared that his favorite toy to share with his daughter were Barbie dolls. Let him explain: “I do like playing with Barbies. It’s a great thing to do with your kids,” he’s quoted as saying. “Once, I was exploring different characters with the Barbies and my daughter didn’t like it. At one point she said, ‘Dad, please just stop, don’t do that, just do your regular voice.’ ”
One of Depp's most high-profile relationships was with Winona Ryder in the 90s. They met while filming the movie Edward Scissorhands and dated for four years. He even tattooed the phrase "Winona Forever" on his right arm. However, when they broke up, he had the last two letters of her name surgically removed, so that the tattoo says "Wino forever."
Sadly, his love for fine wine would actually later get him in trouble...
Depp is one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood—and he's got an expensive lifestyle to match it. However, in 2017, fans were shocked at just how overboard the actor goes when it comes to spending. Depp filed a lawsuit against his management company, claiming that they'd totally mismanaged his finances and that he was nearly bankrupt—but the story got weirder from there.
Depp's former management company sued him right back, claiming that his lavish lifestyle was to blame for his financial problems. They outlined some of his monthly expenses, and they were completely ridiculous—from $300,000 on staff, including 40 full-time employees, to $200,000 for a private jet, to $30,000 for wine. And we can't emphasize this enough: that's per month.
Sounds like he took that "Wino forever" tattoo way too seriously.
In April 2015, Heard and Johnny Depp became embroiled in an international legal scandal…involving dog smuggling. The couple had broken Australian biosecurity laws by failing to declare their Yorkshire Terriers at customs. Heard argued that, under extreme sleep deprivation, she faked the quarantine documents required for the dogs.
Eventually, she pled guilty to falsifying official documents, for which she was placed on a one-month good behavior bond and fined $1,000. On a lighter note, Depp kept dozing off during the legal proceedings and had be elbowed awake by his wife.
Over the years, Johnny Depp has become known for his relationships with counterculture and underworld figures. He was friends with beat poet Allan Ginsberg and gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson—the latter of whom he played in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. However, there was one dangerous figure who refused to befriend Depp.
Depp reached out to notorious crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger multiple times while preparing to play the gangster in the film Black Mass, but Bulger declined to speak to him every time.
Depp remained good friends with Hunter S. Thompson until his passing. Depp helped to fulfill Thompson's last wish after the writer died: Thompson wanted his remains to be shot out of a 150 foot long cannon. Depp funded the ceremony and cannon firing, while celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn watched from the sidelines.
Speaking of that wine budget, Depp has revealed that he's struggled with addiction and alcoholism for his whole life. Following his breakup with Vanessa Paradis, he claimed that he was clean and sober, but as evidenced by his fondness for expensive wine (and many of the allegations that arose during his divorce from Amber Heard) it seems like the star has sadly relapsed.
Depp was the subject on a disturbing 2018 Rolling Stone interview in which he openly consumed hash in front of the piece's author, who said that he was at times incoherent. However, Depp did manage to get one potshot in at his former management company, making a joke that he was insulted by their claim he spent $30,000 on wine per month—only because he spent much more than that.
In 2009, on the set of the film The Rum Diary, Johnny Depp met actress Amber Heard for the first time—and as we all know now, their fairytale romance quickly turned into a total nightmare. Its start wasn't exactly auspicious either. At the time that they met, Depp was still with Vanessa Paradis, and Heard was dating photographer Tasya Van Ree. After Depp's separation from Paradis in 2012, he took up with Heard. Thus, their whirlwind romance began...
Depp proposed to Heard on Christmas Eve 2013, and the couple eventually married in February 2015—but their newlywed bliss didn't last too long. Heard filed for divorce on May 25, 2016, and asked for a temporary restraining order at the same time, alleging that Depp had been verbally and physically abusive. Fans were shocked, and it sparked an insane he-said she-said battle that the tabloids were all too quick to eat up.
Depp immediately struck back at Heard, alleging that she called him abusive as a way to go after his fortune. A court battle ensued, with the pair eventually reaching an agreement where Depp paid Heard a $7 million settlement—which she immediately donated to charity. They released a joint statement, saying that their relationship was volatile, but that "there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm."—but their bitter battle didn't end there.
As part of the non-disclosure agreement, Depp couldn't talk about Heard after their divorce. But sometimes, ink says it all. Depp has since blackened the tattoo of Heard on his biceps. Also, his knuckles once bore the words “Slim,” allegedly for his nickname for Heard. In the midst of their divorce, he changed the words to say “Scum” before changing the “u” into an anarchy symbol and therefore the whole tattoo to read “Scam.” Edgy.
After Heard published an op-ed in the Washington Post in late 2018, Depp sued her for defamation—even though he was never directly named in the article. While the former couple's divorce had long been settled, Depp dropped a bombshell in this new lawsuit. He submitted new evidence that he claims proves Heard was abusive.
For her part, Heard submitted photos showing bruises that she claims she sustained from him, while Depp leaked audio of a conversation in which Heard seems to admit to hitting him. The back-and-forth sparked a resurgence of tabloid interest in their bitter break-up—but it's still unclear what exactly happened between them in the most disturbing story of all.
During Johnny Depp's divorce from Amber Heard, stories of his temper began to leak—and one was more chilling than others. While Heard was shooting London Fields, Depp got jealous of her relationship with co-star Billy Bob Thornton. Depp, naturally, responded by cutting his finger and writing on the mirror in blood, “Starring Billy Bob and Easy Amber.” However, Depp's version of the story was just as chilling.
For his part, Depp claims that he lost the tip of his finger when Heard flung two liquor bottles at him during an altercation while the two were still married. One shattered on a marble surface, taking off part of his finger. Depp said that the fight began after he asked Heard to sign a post-nuptial agreement. The aftermath of the injury was incredibly dire.
Depp caught MRSA a total of three times as a result and had to be hospitalized.
In the 90s, Depp co-owned a Los Angeles nightclub called the Viper Room—and in 1993, it became the setting for one of the most infamous incidents in Hollywood history. One night as Depp performed, River Phoenix stumbled outside of the club, where he collapsed and began having convulsions. While he was taken by ambulance to a hospital, he was never revived.
Soon after the autopsy report came out, dark rumors began to swirl.
The stories given to police by Phoenix's girlfriend, friends, and siblings who were present were so convoluted that it was unclear exactly what happened, but one thing was certain: according to the autopsy, Phoenix had passed from taking a mix of narcotics. Rumors flew like wildfire, with some accusing Depp of having provided the illegal substances to Phoenix, but none were ever proven—however, in 2013, additional details about that night were revealed.
In his 2013 memoir Running With Monsters, musician Bob Forrest, a friend of Phoenix's who was there that night, finally broke his silence on the story. He claimed that River was using coke with Depp and other friends that night. Much of the blame ended up laying on the shoulders of Red Hot Chili Peppers member John Frusciante, who was said to be the one who handed Phoenix the lethal cocktail.
In the days following Phoenix's passing, it's been claimed that Depp was the one to shelter and reassure Frusciante when he feared that he'd be arrested for his role in it all. Still, it's never been officially established what exactly happened that night.
Regardless of what happened that night, one thing is for sure: as long as Johnny Depp was part owner of the Viper Room, he performed a heartbreaking tribute to his friend River Phoenix after the actor's untimely passing. Depp would close the Viper Room every year on Halloween night as a memorial for Phoenix.
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