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Feature: Johnny Depp

Treasure-seeking We take a look at the wild life of sexy star Johnny Depp – from his troubled early years to his fantastic Oscar-nominated role as Captain Jack Sparrow…

Since the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003 Johnny Depp has finally come to be seen as a bona fide Hollywood star. Nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role as the lovably dazed and confused pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, Depp finally achieved official recognition for his talents – despite the fact that he had been praised by critics and fans since his breakout role in Edward Scissorhands back in 1990. In fact, in a recent UK TV poll by Channel 4, Depp was voted the second greatest actor of all time by his fellow actors, coming second only to the legendary Marlon Brando, who was, incidentally, Depp’s hero.

Depp is often lauded for his ability to utterly immerse himself in characters, taking on their mannerisms and speech patterns, rather than just playing a version of his own self, as many Hollywood actors seem content to do. “I definitely don’t consider myself a movie star,” he has explained. “That title is reserved for other people. I just consider myself an actor, just a guy who has got a strange job.” Always keen to avoid any kind of media intrusion into his life, Depp is always the first to play down his position as one of Hollywood’s most popular figures, keeping his aspirations and goals simple. “I want to be able to make films that maybe some day I could be proud that I had done,” he says, “and that maybe my kids or my grandkids could be proud of.”

Johnny wasn’t always so laid back about his career though or indeed his life in general. Born John Christopher Depp on June 9, 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky, the actor’s early life was more than a little rocky. His parents, John, a civil engineer and Betty Sue, a waitress, took him to live in Miramar, Florida in 1970 where he spent his formative years. When his parents divorced in 1978, Johnny was already showing the first signs of rebellion, having joined a rock band named The Kids in which he played the guitar.

Depp later told music magazine Rolling Stone that his adolescent years had been more than a little wild. He claims he started smoking at 12, lost his virginity at 13 and dabbled in drink and drugs. He has also claimed that he was involved in breaking into classrooms and also indulged in acts of self-mutilation. It’s no surprise then that this troubled youth dropped out of school at 16, moving to Los Angeles with his band, his head full of dreams of rock stardom.

His music career never really got off the ground though and before long Johnny found himself in a series of dead end jobs, including a stint as a pen salesman. It was around this time that he met his first wife Lori Anne Allison, whom he wed in 1983. Although their marriage would come to an end in 1985, it was Allison who introduced Depp to actor Nicolas Cage. Johnny had recently read a biography on the life of James Dean and with encouragement from Cage came to realize that his true calling lay in front of the camera. He subsequently landed a part in Horror film Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984 as well as a small role in Oliver Stone’s Vietnam war classic Platoon (1986).

Read the full feature in
Movie Idols #41

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, Pirates of the Caribbean © Buena Vista Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Movie Idols #41
July/ August 2006
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