He’s hot. He’s cool. He’s got the most amazingly dark eyes and a jawline to set hearts racing. He has a calm and collected voice which we would never associate with any of the zany characters he portrays on screen. He is, of course, Johnny Depp, who told Oprah in 2004, “I’m just a guy with a weird job.”
Johnny Depp was born in 1963 in Kentucky to parents who moved home multiple times a year when he was a young child, eventually settling down in Miramar, Florida. Aged 20, he married his garage band member’s sister and relocated again, this time to Los Angeles with sweetheart Lori Anne Allison and his mates from the band. Their dream was to make it big in L.A., but the band never made enough money to support itself, and when a year later Nicolas Cage suggested an acting career, Johnny was game. From those humble beginnings, he turned into one of the most gifted and versatile actors of our time.
He’s best known by youngsters as the swashbuckling pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, but Depp’s been in the acting game since the early eighties. For his first feature film, he was cast as the pretty boy in the Wes Craven horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street. He also secured a hot spot in the crime series 21 Jump Street in 1987, but even back then, he brushed off the cutie image, saying he wanted to be known for more than what became a ‘product’.
He has an affinity for the bizarre, and takes pleasure in bringing to life varied characters that are anything but what you’d meet in your every day. He says of his role in the Pirates of the Caribbean instalments that he was allowed free rein in bringing the Captain to life, only to be almost fired when the film makers questioned how well the character would fare in front of an audience. Their misgivings were unnecessary, as film goers around the world fell in love with the rum-drinking dark-eyed pirate with inarticulate statements and a love of big hats.
Pirates of The Carribbean
His first big break came with Edward Scissorhands (1990), in which he played the title role under the direction of Tim Burton, with whom he would collaborate on many other projects. Bringing to life the man-made ‘human’ Edward, who’s drawn into a kitschy suburban neighbourhood, he made us fall in love with a character when the odds were against him, leading us to follow Depp’s career as he jumped from one surreal interpretation to another.
He’s the actor who insists that fame hasn’t changed him, and yet is one of the world’s most followed and celebrated personalities. This makes him a fine target for paparazzi, whose job he described on the Larry King Live show as “this kind of gluttonous, horrific sport.” He was arrested in 1999 for hitting a paparazzo on the hand with a wooden plank, after the man refused to step away when Johnny politely asked that he and then very pregnant partner Vanessa Paradis be left alone during a private outing.
Despite multiple nominations, Depp has only once secured a Golden Globe, which was for his performance in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He’s also yet to win an Academy Award. That said, he won a People’s Choice Award every year between 2005 and 2012, excluding the year 2009.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
His filmography includes stints as a gypsy in Chocolat, an eccentric writer in Finding Neverland, and a disillusioned film-maker in Ed Wood. He’s done scary, including Sleepy Hollow, The Ninth Gate and From Hell, as well as dark Burtonesque interpretations of the previously child-friendly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland.
His 2015 performance as a toff in Mortdecai was not enough to keep the film from getting bad reviews, but he bounced back with Black Mass, in which he played the biographical character of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger with gusto… and another new hairdo. The sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass sees Johnny Depp reprising his role as the Mad Hatter, who now has an even more important role to play in the tale.
To add to his repertoire, it’s been announced that Depp is set to turn invisible in one of his latest ventures – The Invisible Man – a new Universal Pictures interpretation of the H.G. Wells novel. He will also be returning as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.