A closer look at Johnny Depp's fall from stardom

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Johnny Depp.
Johnny Depp.
Photo: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images
  • Johnny Depp made his name and fortune playing off-beat characters.
  • His London court libel battle has laid bare his turbulent private life involving rows, alcohol and drugs.
  • In 2015 he married Amber Heard, but their relationship quickly fell apart amid accusations of assault.


Johnny Depp made his name and fortune playing off-beat characters from Willy Wonka to Captain Jack Sparrow, while beating an increasingly destructive off-screen path like his hero Marlon Brando.

Pouring his own pain and eccentricities into his roles, Depp earned a reputation as a versatile star and teen heartthrob through sensitive performances in early films such as Edward Scissorhands and What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

He cemented his status as Hollywood's talismanic maverick with blockbuster hits including the Pirates of the Caribbean saga.

But his bitter London court libel battle over newspaper claims that he beat ex-wife Amber Heard laid bare the 57-year-old's turbulent private life involving rows, drink and drugs.

Born 9 June, 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky, Depp set out trying to be a musician, and sold ballpoint pens before dabbling in acting.

He made his big-screen debut in the cult Wes Craven thriller A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984.

From there, he launched a successful television career as a baby-faced undercover police officer in the popular series 21 Jump Street.

Johnny Depp in a publicity portrait from the telev
Johnny Depp in a publicity portrait from the television series '21 Jump Street', 1987.

In 1990, he played Edward Scissorhands, a shear-fingered creature with a heart of gold who brings a bit of magic and joy to a small town with fanciful topiaries and cutting-edge hairdos.

He brought a similar sense of whimsy to his Oscar-nominated role as Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie in 2004's Finding Neverland, in which he tries to create fantasy worlds for four boys and their widowed mother to find refuge in.

Oscars nearly-man

Depp also portrayed another hero, renegade journalist and drug aficionado Hunter S. Thompson, in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

It was on set of one of Thompson's lesser-known works, The Rum Diary that he met and starred opposite Heard in 2011.

But he has also taken on heavier roles in dramas like 2001's Blow, in which he portrayed a big-time drug dealer and 1997's Donnie Brasco, where he plays an undercover detective who infiltrates the mob.

In recent years, Depp has emerged as the star of Disney's billion-dollar blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean, as the rum-swilling sea dog Captain Jack Sparrow in all five films. The role earned comparisons to yet another hero, Rolling Stones hard-living guitarist Keith Richards.

Johnny Depp, dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow.
Johnny Depp, dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Depp has been nominated three times for an Oscar, including for his leading role in 2007's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, but has yet to win one.

He has also frequently returned to his first love of music, collaborating with Oasis, Alice Cooper and Aerosmith's Joe Perry.

He is estimated to be worth around $200 million (R3.25 billion), earning $20 million(R325 million) per film, according to CelebrityNetWorth.Com, and lives between homes in France, Los Angeles and an island he owns in the Bahamas.

But he told the High Court in London he had made $650 million (R10.6 billion) thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and then lost it, claiming his former business managers stole it.

He once claimed he spent more than $30,000 (R487 773) a month on wine alone, and spent lavishly on art and property.

Over-indulgence

Depp has dated a string of high-profile celebrities including Hollywood actress Winona Ryder and British supermodel Kate Moss.

He was with the mother of his two children, French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis, for 14 years.

Before settling down with Paradis and into fatherhood, Depp displayed an infamous wild streak that once again emerged after their break up in 2012.

The actor's over-indulgence, echoing the middle-aged decline of screen icon Brando whom Depp "worshipped", was revealed in painful detail in the London court.

He married Heard in 2015, but their relationship quickly fell apart amid accusations of drunkenness, substance abuse and physical assault. They split in 2016 and divorced in 2017.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp attend the
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp attend the "Black Mass" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Depp admitted taking drugs but denied he was ever violent towards his wife or any other woman.

"I find it simply inconceivable and it would never happen," he said in a witness statement.

Depp is due next year to reprise his role as Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard who once shared a close relationship with Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter film series.

But his casting has come under fire after Heard's accusations.

READ MORE | 5 shocking revelations from the Johnny Depp Amber Heard trial no one saw coming

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