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Johnny Depp - Biography

The actor was born in 1963 in Kentucky and has starred in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and more

Johnny Depp posing for photos on the Cannes red carpet
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad SanwariSenior WriterNew York
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Johnny Depp's Early Life

John Christopher Depp II was born on June 9, 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky, the youngest of four children. After receiving his first guitar at the age of 12, he dropped out of high school at age 16 to become a musician, playing in a band named The Kids. 

When he was 20, the band moved to Los Angeles, but split up just before they signed a record deal in 1984. Johnny played for Rock City Angels during that time, helping co-write some of their music as well.

Johnny Depp's Rise to Fame

After moving to LA, he was introduced to and became friends with Nicolas Cage, who inspired him to pursue acting. He landed his first role in 1984's cult classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, followed by several bit parts.

He cemented himself as a teen idol thanks to his leading turn in the series 21 Jump Street for its first four seasons. He followed that up with turns in independent films like Cry-Baby (1990) and What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), plus classics like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and Donnie Brasco (1997).

Johnny Depp's Major Successes

During the '90s, Johnny became renowned for his collaborations with Tim Burton, which continued into the 2010s. Some of the best known include Edward Scissorhands (1990), Ed Wood (1994), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Dark Shadows (2012).

His biggest commercial success came with Captain Jack Sparrow, the swashbuckling pirate hero in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, a role which he played in four more films and even garnered him an Oscar nomination in 2004. He also played the role of Grindelwald in two movies from the Fantastic Beasts franchise. His other notable projects include Finding Neverland (2004), Rango (2011), Into the Woods (2014), and Black Mass (2015). His latest release is the 2023 historical drama Jeanne du Barry.

Johnny Depp's Music Career

Johnny has frequently collaborated with the likes of Jeff Beck, Oasis, Iggy Pop, Aerosmith, Marilyn Manson, and more, leaning into a rock-oriented style.

His most notable outing since The Kids was with the supergroup Hollywood Vampires, formed with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, plus his Kids bandmate Bruce Witkin, with whom he has toured the world since 2015.

Johnny Depp's Personal Life

Johnny married make-up artist Lori Allison in 1983, the sister of The Kids' lead singer and guitarist, who introduced him to Nicolas Cage. They divorced in 1985, shortly before his career took off. He was also in high-profile relationships with Jennifer Grey, Sherilyn Fenn, Winona Ryder, and Kate Moss.

From 1998 to 2012, Johnny was in a relationship with French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis, with whom he welcomed two children: daughter Lily-Rose Depp (also an actress) and son Jack. Following his break-up with Vanessa, he was married to actress Amber Heard from 2015-2017.

Johnny Depp's Legal Battles

The actor has endured much legal trouble throughout his career, many stemming from accusations of abuse and assault due to alleged drug and alcohol use, a large amount of which were settled outside of court.

After Amber claimed that she had been abused and "beaten" by Johnny during their marriage, The Sun published an article calling the actor a "wife beater." Johnny issued a libel lawsuit in the UK against the newspaper, although a High Court ruled that the acts of violence claimed by his ex-wife were "substantially true."

Around that time, Amber published an op-ed in The Washington Post in 2018, terming herself to be a survivor of domestic violence. Their defamation trial first took root in 2019, following which he was countersued by his ex-wife.

Their highly publicized trial took place in 2022 in Virginia, resulting in a victory for Johnny when it was found by a jury that her statements were defamatory and made with the intent of "actual malice."

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