Johnny Depp is highly regarded by many critics and movie fans as one of the best actors in Hollywood. His renown in the movie industry is mainly attributed to his versatility, as he is able to play various characters with different personalities and backgrounds. One of his most notable roles is Captain Jack Sparrow, which he would play in several Pirates of the Caribbean films made by Disney.
However, his career in Hollywood is not the only thing that made Johnny Depp popular, as his personal life has also been highly publicized and sensationalized by the media. Depp has been involved in numerous controversies, and one of the biggest is probably his relationship with Amber Heard, a popular actress that is 20+ years younger than the actor. To know more about this iconic actor’s career and personal life, here are pieces of information about the impact of Johnny Depp on pop culture.
The Early Life of Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp, whose full name is John Christopher Depp II, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 9, 1963. Depp is the fourth child of John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer, and Betty Sue Palmer, a waitress. The Depp family would often move frequently to various states when Johnny was a child, but they would eventually settle in Miramar, Florida, in 1970. Depp’s parents would later divorce in 1978, and his mother would marry Robert Palmer, who Depp called an inspiration.
Depp found his love for music when his mother gave him a guitar when he was 12. From then on, he would start playing guitar for various bands. He would drop out of Miramar High School in 1979 in order to pursue a career in music. But he would attempt to go back to school two weeks after dropping out, but the school principal told him that he should follow his dreams.
Besides playing in a band, Johnny Depp would also work odd jobs like telemarketing. In 1983, he married Lori Anne Allison, a makeup artist who is also the sister of his bandmate at Six Gun Method. The couple would later divorce in 1985.
The Start of Depp’s Acting Career
Depp would later meet actor Nicholas Cage, who was introduced to him by his then-wife Lori Ann Allison. Cage would recommend Depp to pursue acting. Depp became interested in acting when he read a biography of James Dean and also watched one of Dean’s most popular works, Rebel Without a Cause, which was released in 1955.
Cage would then help Depp to get an audition for A Nightmare on Elm Street, a new film that would be directed by Wes Craven in the 1980s. Depp didn’t have any acting experience during that time, but he was able to land the role of the protagonist’s boyfriend in the film.
Despite not having any desire to pursue acting over his music career, Depp would continue to land roles for various films, including Private Resort (1985), Thrashin’ (1986), and Platoon (1986). His most popular work in the 1980s was as one of the main leads for 21 Jump Street, a Fox television series that first aired in 1987. For the said TV show, Johnny Depp became a teen idol, who is a celebrity with a large fan base of teenagers.
Rise into Stardom
After becoming disillusioned with being a teen idol when 21 Jump Street became successful, Johnny Depp started to accept roles that he found interesting rather than accepting movies that would make it big at the box office.
In 1990, Depp would star in a teen musical film titled Cry-Baby that was directed by John Waters. Although the film was really not a box office success, it would eventually become a cult classic. It was also in the said year when Depp would play the titular character Edward Scissorhands. The movie that was directed by Tim Burton was a critical and commercial success. Depp would be praised for his portrayal of the often silent but expressive character, and he would later earn his first Golden Globe nomination for the movie.
Some of the most popular movies that Johnny Depp starred in during the 90s are What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Benny and Joon (1993), Arizona Dream (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Don Juan DeMarco (1995), Donnie Brasco (1997), and Sleepy Hollow (1999).
Johnny Depp would also begin to direct and write films in the 90s, and his directorial and screenwriting debut was with The Brave, a neo-western film that was released in 1997. Unfortunately, The Brave received negative reviews from critics, prompting Depp to not release the movie in the United States. The Brave was not the only underperforming and poorly received film that Depp was involved in, as he also appeared in box office failures such as Nick of Time (1995) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).
Johnny Depp as a Hollywood Icon
By the 2000s, Johnny Depp was already an in-demand actor that would star in various popular and iconic films in Hollywood. In 2003, Depp would star in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which was produced by Walt Disney Pictures. This movie would become a major box office success, and it would result in a big film franchise wherein Depp would reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow numerous times.
Besides Pirates of the Caribbean, another critically acclaimed work of Johnny was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), an adaptation by Tim Burton of the 1964 novel of the same name written by Roald Dahl. In the said film, Depp portrayed Willy Wonk, the peculiar owner of the Wonka Chocolate Factory. It was also in 2005 when Depp would voice the character Victor Van Dort in a stop-motion film titled the Corpse Bride, which was directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson.
As evident in Johnny Depp’s filmography, he would frequently work for and alongside Tim Burton, as they share similar ideas in regards to acting, directing, and films in general. Their sixth collaboration was in 2007 when Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was released. In the movie, Depp plays the titular character Sweeney Todd. It was the first film where Depp would have to sing, but instead of hiring a vocal coach to improve his singing, he would instead record demos with his former bandmate Bruce Witkin.
The seventh collaboration with Tim Burton was Alice in Wonderland in 2010, where Depp played the Mad Hatter. Even though it received mixed reviews among critics, Alice in Wonderland was a financial success, as it grossed $1.025 billion, making it the second-highest-grossing film of that year. In 2011, Depp portrayed the titular character Rango, and the film would also be a commercial success.
Depp would reprise his role as the Mad Hatter in another collaboration project with Tim Burton and the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, in 2016. Unfortunately, the sequel wasn’t as successful as the first film, and it actually caused Disney to lose $70 million. In the same year, Depp would appear as a secret cameo in Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them, a spinoff of the main Harry Potter movies. In the movie, he played the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. He would play the character as a major role in the sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, in 2018. Unfortunately, Depp would lose the role of Grindelwald and be replaced by Mads Mikkelsen due to several controversies that affected his career.
Johnny Depp’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse
Johnny Depp’s career wasn’t all just sunshine and rainbows, as there were big controversies that the Hollywood star has been in, particularly in his personal life. One of the biggest controversies that Depp had to deal with was his publicized alcoholism and drug addiction. According to Depp, he started becoming addicted to drugs at the age of 11 when he would take his mother’s “nerve pills,” and by the age of 14, he believed that he had already used every kind of drug available in the United States.
In an interview conducted in 2008, Depp acknowledged that he had poisoned himself by constantly drinking alcohol for years. But, in 2013, Depp stated that he stopped drinking alcohol. However, his ex-wife Amber Heard testified that she and Depp were often binging on drugs and alcohol between 2013 and 2016. He would later admit in his 2020 trial for libel that he was addicted to alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs while in a relationship with Heard.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard
Johnny Depp has been in numerous relationships throughout the years, but the most infamous relationship that he had is with Amber Heard, who was a relatively young actress when he met her in a movie titled The Rum Diary, released in 2011 but filmed in 2009. He began dating Amber Heard in 2011, shortly after ending his relationship with Vanessa Paradis, a French actress and singer. Heard and Depp would then be married in February 2015 through a civil ceremony.
Unfortunately, Heard filed for divorce in May 2016, and Depp received a temporary restraining order, as Heard reported that Depp was physically and verbally abusive during their relationship and marriage. The violence is said to be attributed to Depp being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. However, a settlement was reached between Heard and Depp in 2016, with Depp paying Heard a settlement fee of $7 million. Heard then pledged to donate the money to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).
After the settlement with Heard, Johnny Depp would bring a libel lawsuit in the United Kingdom against the News Group Newspapers or NGN, who published a tabloid newspaper called The Sun. According to the lawsuit, The Sun has falsely called Depp a “wife-beater” in an April 2018 article. The lawsuit became highly controversial and hugely publicized by many media outlets around the world. In November 2020, after numerous court appearances and testimonies by Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, the High Court of Justice ruled that most of the incidents of violence between Depp and Heard were substantially true, so Depp lost the case against The Sun.
After the trial, Depp would resign from the Fantastic Beasts franchise. From then on, Depp seemed to have been “blacklisted” from Hollywood and was “canceled” by many people on social media for his controversies. Depp would also lose one of his most iconic roles, Captain Jack Sparrow, as Disney reportedly didn’t want to do anything with the actor anymore.
Defamation Case Against Heard
The trial with The Sun Amber Heard tarnished Johnny Depp’s career, which is the reason why Depp also sued Heard for defamation in the US state of Virginia in 2019. The basis for the defamation case was the op-ed or “opposite the editorial page” article that was written by Heard and published by The Washington Post in December 2018 about abusive relationships.
In the defamation case, Depp alleged that he was actually the one that was abused by Heard and that Heard’s lies constituted a hoax against him that would eventually tarnish his career and lose his future projects. Amber Heard would then countersue Johnny Depp in August 2020, alleging that Depp coordinated a negative campaign on Twitter to make her lose her projects, most notably her role in the Aquaman film series by Warner Bros and DC Comics, as well as her endorsement for L’Oreal.
The judge for the case between Heard and Depp would dismiss Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman in October 2020 after leaking confidential information that has a protective order to the media. Then, after the libel lawsuit case with The Sun finally had a verdict in November 2020, Heard’s lawyers pushed for the defamation suit to be dismissed. But, Judge Penny Azcarate rejected their plea.
The defamation trial, which was called Depp v Heard, began in April 2022 in Fairfax County, Virginia. During the trial, there were many moments about Depp and Heard’s abusive relationship that were revealed to the public, with one of the most controversial being the day Amber Heard left human feces on Johnny Depp’s side of the bed shortly after having an argument and fight.
There were also other celebrities that became involved in the case, like James Franco, who Depp accused of having had an affair with Heard. Another celebrity involved was Paul Bettany, who texted Depp to “drown” or “burn” Amber Heard, although Depp defended the texts saying that Bettany was just referencing lines from a Monty Python skit.
Because of the revelations, most people on social media sided with Johnny Depp because of how truthful he was in giving his testimonies and recollections of past events. Many expect that the trial would be in favor of Johnny Depp and that Amber Heard would have to pay $50 million in damages.
Despite the biggest controversies that Johnny Depp has dealt with throughout the years, he remains one of the most popular stars in Hollywood. One could say that no matter how big the controversy is surrounding Depp’s career or personal life, his acting skills and popularity would still overshadow those controversies because of how iconic he is in the movie industry.