John Christopher "Johnny" Depp II (born June 9, 1963) is an American actor, film producer, and musician who has won the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor, and has been nominated thrice for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Depp rose to prominence on the 1980s television series 21 Jump Street, becoming a teen idol. Dissatisfied with that status, Depp turned to film for more challenging roles; he played the title character of the acclaimed Edward Scissorhands (1990) and later found box office success in films such as Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Rango (2011), and the Pirates of the Caribbean film series (2003-present). He has collaborated with director and friend Tim Burton in eight films; the most recent being Dark Shadows (2012).
Depp has gained acclaim for his portrayals of such people as Ed Wood in Ed Wood, Joseph D. Pistone in Donnie Brasco, Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, George Jung in Blow, and the bank robber John Dillinger in Michael Mann's Public Enemies. Films featuring Depp have grossed over $3.1 billion at the United States box office and over $7.6 billion worldwide. He has been nominated for top awards many times, winning the Best Actor Awards from the Golden Globes for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and from the Screen Actors Guild for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. He also has garnered a sex symbol status in American cinema, being twice named as the "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine in 2003 and 2009. He has been listed in the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records as the highest paid actor, with $75 million.
Depp was born on June 9, 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky, as the youngest of four children of Betty Sue Palmer (née Wells), a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer. In a 2002 interview, Depp stated that he believed he has Native American ancestry; in 2011, he specified, "I guess I have some Native American [in me] somewhere down the line. My great-grandmother was quite a bit of Native American, she grew up Cherokee or maybe Creek Indian. Makes sense in terms of coming from Kentucky, which is rife with Cherokee and Creek." He has also stated that he "apparently" has Native American ancestry, and that "There are so many different things you're told [growing up] in Kentucky" [about his heritage]. His Native ancestry came under question when Indian Country Today Media Network stated that Depp has never inquired about his heritage nor does the Cherokee Nation recognize him as a member. Research published by Ancestry.com in 2013 stated that Depp is a descendant of Elizabeth Key Grinstead (b. 1630), a biracial woman, who was the first woman of African ancestry in the North American colonies to sue for her freedom from slavery and win.
Depp moved frequently during his childhood, and he and his siblings lived in more than 20 different locations, settling in Miramar, Florida, in 1970. In 1978, when he was 15, Depp's parents divorced. His mother married, as her second husband, Robert Palmer (died 2000), whom Depp has called "an inspiration to me". Depp engaged in self-harm when he was young, due to the stress of dealing with family problems, which resulted in several self-inflicted scars. In a 1993 interview, he reflected on his self-injury by saying "My body is a journal in a way. It's like what sailors used to do, where every tattoo meant something, a specific time in your life when you make a mark on yourself, whether you do it yourself with a knife or with a professional tattoo artist."
With the gift of a guitar from his mother when he was 12, Depp began playing in various garage bands. A year after his parents' divorce, Depp dropped out of high school to become a rock musician. He attempted to go back to school two weeks later, but the principal told him to follow his dream of being a musician. He played with The Kids, a band that enjoyed modest local success. The Kids set out together for Los Angeles in pursuit of a record deal, changing their name to Six Gun Method, but the group split up before signing a record deal. Depp subsequently collaborated with the band Rock City Angels and co-wrote their song "Mary," which appeared on Rock City Angels' debut for Geffen Records titled Young Man's Blues.
Depp starred in a lead role as Thomas "Tom" Hanson, Jr. on the Fox television series, 21 Jump Street, which premiered in 1987. Depp accepted this role to work with actor Frederic Forrest, who inspired him. Depp's long-time friend Sal Jenco joined the cast as a semi-co-star as the janitor named Blowfish. The series' success turned Depp into a popular teen idol during the late 1980s. Despite this success, Depp felt "forced into the role of product." Depp subsequently decided to appear only in films that he felt were right for him. Depp and his co-stars, Peter DeLuise and Holly Robinson, briefly reprised their roles in cameo appearances in the series' 2012 feature film adaptation, which featured a much more comedic tone than the series.
Depp's first major role was in the 1984 classic horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street, playing the boyfriend of the heroine, Nancy Thompson (played by Heather Langenkamp) and one of Freddy Krueger's victims. Depp was the first choice and was cast to star in the 1986 American skater drama film Thrashin', chosen and cast by the director but ultimately rejected by the film's producer. In 1986, he appeared in a secondary role as a Vietnamese-speaking private in Oliver Stone's Platoon. In 1990, he undertook the quirky title role of the Tim Burton film, Edward Scissorhands. The film's success began his long collaboration with Burton.
Depp, a fan and long-time friend of writer Hunter S. Thompson, played a version of Thompson (named Raoul Duke) in 1998's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, based on the writer's pseudobiographical novel of the same name. Depp accompanied Thompson as his road manager on one of the author's last book tours. In 2006, Depp contributed a foreword to Gonzo: Photographs by Hunter S. Thompson, a posthumous biography published by ammobooks.com. In 2008, he narrated the documentary film Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Depp paid for most of Thompson's memorial event, complete with fireworks and the shooting of Thompson's ashes by a cannon, in Aspen, Colorado, where Thompson lived. He returned to Thompson's work with a film adaptation of the novel The Rum Diary, released in 2011.
Critics have described Depp's roles as characters who are "iconic loners." Depp has noted this period of his career was full of "studio defined failures" and films that were "box office poison," but he thought the studios never understood the films and did not do a good job of marketing. Depp has chosen roles which he found interesting, rather than those he thought would succeed at the box office.
For his contributions in motion pictures, Depp received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 16, 1999.
The 2003 Walt Disney Pictures film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a major success, in which Depp's performance as the suave but shambling pirate Captain Jack Sparrow was highly praised. Studio bosses were more ambivalent at first, but the character became popular with the movie-going public. According to a survey taken by Fandango, Depp was a major draw for audiences. The film's director, Gore Verbinski, has said that Depp's character closely resembles the actor's personality, but Depp said he modeled the character after The Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Depp was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for the role.
In 2004, he was again nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Scottish author J. M. Barrie in the film Finding Neverland. Depp next starred as Willy Wonka in the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a major success at the box office and earning him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
Depp reprised the role of Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels Dead Man's Chest (2006), At World's End (2007), and On Stranger Tides (2011), which were each also major box office successes. Depp has said that Sparrow is "definitely a big part of me," and he even voiced the character in the video game Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow. His swashbuckling sword talents, as developed for the character of Sparrow, were highlighted in the documentary film Reclaiming the Blade. Within the film, swordmaster Bob Anderson shared his experiences working with Depp on the choreography for The Curse of the Black Pearl. Anderson described Depp's ability as an actor to pick up the sword to be "about as good as you can get."
Depp and Gore Verbinski were executive producers of the album Rogues Gallery, Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys. Depp played the title role of Sweeney Todd in Tim Burton's film adaptation of the musical, for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Depp thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and praised Tim Burton for his "unwavering trust and support."
Depp played the character of the late Heath Ledger in the 2009 film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, along with Jude Law and Colin Farrell. All three actors gave their salaries from the film to Ledger's daughter, Matilda. He portrayed Tarrant Hightopp in Tim Burton's Disney film Alice in Wonderland, and the protagonist and titular character of Rango.
In 2007, Depp accepted Warner Bros.' proposal to make a film of the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, a series that aired on ABC from 1966 to 1971. He had been a fan as a child. Depp and Graham King produced the movie with David Kennedy, who ran Dan Curtis Productions inc. until Curtis died in 2006. Depp starred as Tonto in 2013's The Lone Ranger, opposite Armie Hammer as the title character, John Reid.
Depp will film a documentary about Keith Richards. Depp will star in and produce an adaptation of the comic book Rex Mundi. Depp will collaborate with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides director Rob Marshall again to create a remake of The Thin Man. Depp plans to star as Carl Kolchak in the project Night Stalker, and has bought rights to the comic book The Vault. Depp is in final negotiations to star in the film adaptation of the musical, Into the Woods. His role in the film was originally uncertain because Variety reported that he would play the Baker while The Hollywood Reporter said he would portray the Wolf. On May 10, 2013, a casting notice released by Disney confirmed that Depp will play the Wolf. The film is expected to begin shooting in September 2013 and will be released in Christmas of 2014.
Depp stated in a BBC radio interview on July 29, 2013 that he hopes to be involved with "quieter things" at some point in the near future, implying that he will retire from acting. Depp explained in further detail during the interview:
- I wouldn't say I'm dropping out any second, but I would say it's probably not too far away. When you add up the amount of dialogue that you say per year and you realise that you've said written words more than you've had a chance to say your own words, you start thinking about that as an insane option for a human being.
As a guitar player, Depp has played slide guitar on the Oasis song "Fade In-Out" (from Be Here Now, 1997), as well as on "Fade Away (Warchild Version)" (b-side of the "Don't Go Away" single). He also played acoustic guitar in the movie Chocolat and on the soundtrack to Once Upon a Time in Mexico. He is a friend of The Pogues' Shane MacGowan, and performed on MacGowan's first solo album. He was also a member of P, a group featuring Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. He has appeared in Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' music video "Into the Great Wide Open" and The Lemonheads "It's a Shame About Ray" music video. He made a cameo reprising his role as Tarrant Hightop in the music video for Avril Lavigne's "Alice" in 2010.
Johnny Depp traded licks with Joe Perry on "The Brooklyn Shuffle," a song from Steve Hunter and "The Manhattan Blues Project," which was scheduled for release on April 30, 2013.
Depp was married to Lori Anne Allison from 1983 to 1985. He was later successively engaged to actresses Jennifer Grey and Sherilyn Fenn in the late 1980s before proposing in 1990 to his Edward Scissorhands co-star Winona Ryder, for whom he tattooed "WINONA FOREVER" on his right arm.
In 1998, following a four-year relationship with British supermodel Kate Moss, Depp began a relationship with Vanessa Paradis, a French actress and singer whom he met while filming The Ninth Gate. They had two children together: daughter Lily-Rose Melody Depp (born 1999), and son John "Jack" Christopher Depp III (born 2002). In 2007, Depp's daughter recovered from a serious illness, an E. coli infection that began to cause her kidneys to shut down and resulted in an extended hospital stay. To thank Great Ormond Street Hospital, Depp visited the hospital in November 2007, dressed in his Captain Jack Sparrow outfit, and spent four hours reading stories to the children. In 2008 he donated £1 million (about $2 million) to the hospital.
After months of media speculation, Depp and Paradis announced their separation in June 2012.
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