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About Johnny Depp

Updated on March 10, 2010

Johnny Depp: Dark, Deadly and Divine

It’s hard to believe that Johnny Depp, who is arguably the darkest, broodiest sex god, was once a teen idol. But that’s just how Depp rolls – surprising audiences at every turn.

Just like his old friend, legendary author Hunter S. Thompson (whom he also played as Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Mr. Depp lives by his own rules.

Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson

From the lighting up TV screens across America (and the world) on 21 Jump Street, to his performance as the tragic yet endearing Edward Scissorhands, he’s ruled the screen for over twenty years. And unlike the multitude of former blockbuster stars who either disappeared into obscurity or never clawed their way back up from rock bottom, Johnny Depp presence has remained steadfast.

Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands

It’s not to say that he hasn’t had his share of scandal. In fact, in the mid-90’s, the actor was known for roaring through the Hollywood (along with Hunter S. Thompson and John Cusack) drunk, high and crazy – but he didn’t give a damn. Even back in the 1990s, tabloids were abuzz with stories of his infamous hotel room thrashings with then-girlfriend Kate Moss. One such legendary tale is the story of how the actor and the supermodel thrashed Manhattan’s Mark Hotel so badly that when authorities came to inspect the noise, the actor and model were sitting atop a pile of debris and blaming the mess on a runaway armadillo. 

The Viper Room

However, in 1993, one such scandal – on All-Hallows-Eve – shook Hollywood. On October 31, 1993, the talented young actor, River Phoenix, who starred in Stand By Me, Running on Empty, and My Own Private Idaho, died form an overdose after leaving the Viper Room, the hip Hollywood joint co-owned by Johnny Depp.

Depp’s The Viper Room, a nightclub located on the Sunset Strip, was Hollywood’s favourite playground. However, even with the club’s many scandals (fistfights, cat fights and drunken debauchery), Depp’s relinquished ownership of the club in 2004, signing it over to the daughter of Anthony Fox, his former partner. Currently, several financiers are planning on turning the club – now, with pristine white leather seats and cherry-wood floorings- into a franchise.

Film: The Art, The Magic, The Mystery

Although his bad boy image is behind him – though his brooding, artist vibe will forever melt the hearts of goth girls and soccer moms everywhere – Depp has always stayed true to his art. Acting, a career he stumbled upon by accident after meeting Nicolas Cage in party, has been the medium with which he has allowed outsiders (audiences) a peek into his inner world. He once said, “With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it's just not acting. It's lying.” And indeed, as one of today’s most versatile actors, Depp – a method actor – has poked, prodded, twisted and carved himself into characters who grab as by the throat, whirl us around and yet, have us coming back for more.

As the Jackson-esque Willy Wonka (though he says MJ was not the inspiration) he led us into the dark side of childhood. Baring silver-and-gold teeth he turned Disney’s favourite theme park ride into a blockbuster sensation. Dressed in lady’s undergarments in Ed Wood, he made kink kooky, and taking off ladies undergarments in Don Juan De Marco, he reminded us of what made him so sexy.

In 2010, he will be starring as the Mad Hatter in Alice and Wonderland. However, from the early screenings alone, it’s clear that Depp and Burton’s seventh collaboration will probably be as dark and as twisted as Lewis Carroll had originally intended.

Johnny Depp: Alice in Wonderland Trailer

However, Depp doesn’t just get his street cred for playing a few dark roles, he’s the real deal. Born John Christopher Depp on June 9, 1963, in Kentucky, even then, he wasn’t the smart kid or the cool kid, or the football star – he was Johnny Depp.

He was also a true punk rock soul who partied to the slamming beats of The Beatles, Cheap Trick, Elvis Costello, The Clash, and Chuck Berry (Boy, they don’t make ‘em like they used to!). But he didn’t just crowd surf to their wailing riffs, he took to the stage – as part of the punk rock group The Kids. At just 16, he left home, along with his fellow bandmates and set off to L.A. However, the city of angels is a dark town – legends are born, and dreams die every 60 seconds. After several years, Depp and his fellow “Kids” did not get a record deal. However, Johnny Depp, down-and-out rock-and-roller would soon have a second chance at the big time – acting.

Married at 20 to Lori Anne Allison, a makeup artist, she introduced him to Nicolas Cage who persuaded him to try out acting. And with nothing to lose, Depp did just that and almost immediately, landed a role in Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street.

However, despite the numerous lucky breaks, he did not become a superstar overnight. Depp, now divorced from his first wife, slogged his way through numerous cheesy flicks and to his ire, being labelled as a “teen idol.” However, the actor grew tired of “playing by the Hollywood system” and first parodying his “heartthrob” image in Cry Baby, then taking on Tim Burton’s surprise hit Edward Scissorhands, Depp began to carve his own path, an invaluable move that made him the screen icon he is today.

Johnny Depp reading his correspondence with Hunter S. Thompson

Johnny Depp narrating the Documentary Gonzo

Johnny Depp Funny Moments


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