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Johnny Depp turns 61- inside his private world, love affairs and journey to fatherhood

The Pirates of the Caribbean star is a father-of-two

Faye James
Senior Editor
June 9, 2024
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Known for his eccentric charm and iconic roles, Johnny Depp has captivated audiences since the 80’s with his magnetism. 

Amidst a life of controversy both on- and off-screen, the devoted father of two and Academy-Award nominee has carved out an enduring career that most actors can only dream of, working with the likes of Tim Burton and Wes Craven, and playing beloved characters like Jack Sparrow and Edward Scissorhands. 

As the Hollywood giant turns 61, HELLO! reflects on his fascinating life.

Inside Johnny Depp's Family Life

Johnny’s challenging childhood

Johnny was born in Kentucky in 1963 to John Christopher Depp and Betty Sue Depp, the youngest of four kids. Betty was a waitress and John a civil engineer, and the family moved around a lot until they eventually laid down roots in Florida in 1970.

 Speaking to the jury during his legal battle against ex-wife Amber Heard, the actor spoke out for the first time about the alleged physical, verbal and psychological abuse his family suffered at the hands of their mother: “She had the ability to be as cruel as anyone could be, with all of us…she could become quite violent, and she was quite violent.”

Johnny with his parents and Vanessa© Getty
Johnny with his parents and Vanessa

Johnny Depp with his mother© Getty
Johnny Depp with his mother

From Florida to Hollywood

 Johnny’s career took off after starring in the iconic horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street, and other roles in Crybaby and ‘21 Jump Street’ closely followed. He reached teen idol status after three years starring on the cop show, and reprised his role in a hilarious turn on the 2012 reboot alongside Channing Tatum.

 Perhaps his most beloved role is that of the perpetually-drunk and mischievous Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. For this role he was nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA, and won a SAG Award for Best Actor.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in a video message to Captain Kori on YouTube© YouTube
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in a video message to Captain Kori on YouTube

Inside his tumultuous love life

 The ‘21 Jump Street’ actor had multiple high profile relationships in the late 80’s and 90’s; he was briefly engaged to Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey, and to ‘Twin Peaks’ actress Sherilyn Fenn, and dated supermodel Kate Moss for three years before they called it quits in 1997.

Johnny Depp with Winona Ryder© Getty
Johnny Depp with Winona Ryder

Johnny began dating his Edward Scissorhands co-star Winona Ryder in 1989 and got engaged after just five months together, controversially when Winona was only 17 and Johnny was 26. The couple broke up four years later, but she wrote a character statement for him during his legal battle, according to Business Insider.

“I truly and honestly only know him as a really good man - an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy who was so very protective of me and the people that he loves, and I felt so very, very safe with him,” she wrote. 

Johnny Depp and Kate Moss© Getty
Johnny Depp and Kate Moss

 The joys of fatherhood

Johnny met actress and model Vanessa Paradis in 1998, and quickly fell in love with the glamorous French woman. They were partners from 1998 until their split in 2012, after years of cheating rumors dogged their relationship. Despite their breakup, Vanessa has also come out to defend Johnny during his trial, maintaining that he has always been “a kind, attentive, generous and non-violent person and father,” according to Business Insider

Johnny Depp and daugther Lily© Getty
Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis

Johnny’s daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, was born just a year after her parents met, and is an actress in her own right. She also models and became the face of Chanel at just 16-years-old. She has starred in Yoga Hosers alongside Johnny, The King with rumoured Beau Timothée Chalamet, and more recently (and controversially) in ‘The Idol’.

Johnny's private son Jack© Instagram
Johnny's private son Jack

The HBO show which follows Jocelyn (Lily-Rose) as a rising pop-star who has a breakdown and becomes entangled with a club owner and cult leader, played by singer The Weeknd, drew heavy criticism for gratuitous sexual and violent scenes and director Sam Levinson’s “creepy” behavior. Johnny has shown support for his daughter during the backlash. 

Johnny Depp with Vanessa Paradis© Getty
Johnny Depp with Vanessa Paradis

Johnny and Vanessa’s second child, John ‘Jack’ Christopher III, was born in 2002 in France and is much more private than his older sister. Jack stays out of the limelight but loves to play music- expand this more. 

The Pirates actor spoke warmly of his son in an interview with Inquirer.net, saying that he “has always been a very talented draftsman. He draws super well. He also plays music very well.”

He further told Rolling Stone magazine in 2018 that he was over the moon when he learned Jack had started a band, stating: "That's my kid!"

Johnny also has a tattoo dedicated to his son. It shows a sparrow flying over the ocean with the sun in the background, with the name Jack tattooed underneath. The sparrow tattoo is similar to the one that his Pirates of the Caribbean character Jack Sparrow has.

Johnny Depp with Lily Rose Depp at the Golden Globes in 2004© Getty
Johnny Depp worried for Lily Rose when she was hospitalized as a child

The siblings are incredibly close; Lily-Rose posted a heart-warming Instagram tribute to her brother on his birthday in 2020: “My little baby Jackie is 18…my baby bro my heart and soul happy birthday I love you SO MUCH!”. Jack briefly stepped into the spotlight in 2015 to support his sister at Paris Fashion Week. 

Johnny cares a lot for his two children. Speaking in 2018 to GQ magazine in the wake of Amber Heard's abuse allegations he said: "I’m sure it wasn’t easy for my 14-year-old boy to go to school, you know what I mean? With people going, ‘Hey, look at this magazine, man. What, your dad beats up chicks or something?’

"Why did he have to go through that? Why did my daughter have to go through that?" he asked, clearly upset. During Johnny's trial in 2022, Jack remained out of the spotlight, as for the most part did Lily-Rose.

Lily-Rose spoke out in defense of her father’s legal battle at a Cannes Film Festival press conference in 2023, saying “It's always a little sad and disheartening to say mean false things said about someone you care about…it wasn’t reflective at all of my experience.”

Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard

The wasn’t a corner of the internet that hadn’t heard about the legal battle between Johnny and ex-wife Amber Heard in 2022. The controversy created an important conversation around domestic abuse and the general public quickly took sides.

The pair met in 2009 on the set of their film The Rum Diary, were dating by 2012 and engaged in 2014. They married in 2015, but Amber filed for divorce just a year later, citing alleged abuse which Johnny vehemently denied. 

Then, in 2017, she came out in The Washington Post with a piece about how she was treated after her divorce, revealing, “I felt as though I was on trial in the court of public opinion – and my life and livelihood depended on myriad judgments far beyond my control.”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard© Getty
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Johnny promptly sued her for defamation, a legal battle which revealed the inner workings of their tumultuous marriage and dragged all of their skeletons from the closet. Both sides alleged physical and psychological abuse, but ultimately the jury sided with Johnny and awarded him US $10.4 million in damages. 

He shared a post on Instagram about his win, saying “six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”  

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