Depp, Johnny


Depp, Johnny
▪ 2006
 It was appropriate that American actor Johnny Depp, billed by many as Hollywood's ultimate outsider, would find his greatest box- office success as a pirate. His performance as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) earned Depp his first Academy Award nomination in 2004, and he spent much of 2005 at work on the next two films in the Pirates franchise. Depp maintained his distance from the Hollywood mainstream, though, and the film roles that he chose continued to reflect a preference for brilliant misfits. In January he received his second Oscar nomination, this time for his role as Peter Pan creator James M. Barrie in Finding Neverland (2004). During 2005 he starred in two films by a longtime friend, director Tim Burton. Depp's twisted turn as the reclusive candy baron Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory packed theatres throughout the summer, and he provided the voice of the unfortunate groom in Burton's macabre animated tale Corpse Bride. While some critics saw parallels between the mannerisms of Depp's Wonka and those of pop singer Michael Jackson, Depp maintained that any similarities were purely coincidental. In August Depp paid tribute to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson by financing a $2 million memorial service at Thompson's Woody Creek, Colo., home.

      John Christopher Depp II was born on June 9, 1963, in Owensboro, Ky. He was the youngest of four children and dealt with his family's frequent moves by acting out in school and at home. To calm him, his mother gave him a guitar. He took to it immediately, and by age 16 he had dropped out of school to focus on his music. His band, the Kids, relocated to Los Angeles, and soon after that he married Lori Anne Allison. Depp struggled as a musician, and his wife suggested that he contact her friend Nicolas Cage for some acting work. Cage arranged for him to audition with Wes Craven, and Depp made his film debut as a teen eaten by his own bed in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). More work was slow to come, and the strain led to his divorce from Allison the following year. His professional break came in 1987 with the premiere of 21 Jump Street, a TV police series that capitalized on Depp's smoldering good looks. He left the show in 1990 and worked on distancing himself from the heartthrob image he had acquired. That year saw the release of John Waters's Cry-Baby and Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, two films by maverick directors that showcased Depp's range. His later work included Burton projects Ed Wood (1994) and Sleepy Hollow (1999), Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1995), Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), and Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate (1999). While filming The Ninth Gate in France, Depp met actress Vanessa Paradis. He moved to France shortly thereafter, and the couple had two children.

Michael Ray

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▪ American actor
in full  John Christopher Depp II 
born June 9, 1963, Owensboro, Ky., U.S.
 
 American actor and musician, who was known for his eclectic and unconventional film choices but achieved perhaps his greatest success as Capt. Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

      At age 16 Depp dropped out of high school to pursue a music career. His band, the Kids, relocated from Florida, where he spent the majority of his childhood, to Los Angeles. In 1983 Depp married Lori Anne Allison, who worked as a makeup artist while he struggled as a musician. Allison had her friend and actor Nicolas Cage arrange for Depp to audition with director Wes Craven, and Depp made his film debut as a teenager eaten by his own bed in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). He divorced Allison the following year.

      Depp's professional break came in 1987 with the premiere of 21 Jump Street, a television police series that starred Depp as Officer Tom Hanson, a young cop who frequently went undercover in high schools and colleges to catch troubled youths. The show was a hit, though Depp resented his promotion as a teen heartthrob. In 1990 he left the series and appeared in John Waters's Cry-Baby and Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, two films by maverick directors that showcased Depp's range. Scissorhands began a long association between the actor and director that led to Depp's appearance in several other Burton films, including Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), in which Depp played the reclusive candy baron Willy Wonka. In addition, Depp provided the voice of the unfortunate groom in Burton's macabre animated tale Corpse Bride (2005).

      Depp continued to show his versatility, appearing as a 19th-century accountant in Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1995) and as an FBI agent who infiltrates the Mafia in Donnie Brasco (1997). In 1998 Depp, a longtime friend and fan of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (Thompson, Hunter S.), starred in Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a film based on Thompson's pseudobiographical novel of the same name. Later films include Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate (1999) and Ted Demme's Blow (2001); while working on the former film, he met French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis, who became his partner.

  In 2003 Depp appeared as Capt. Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). His performance, which was modeled on Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones (Rolling Stones, the), earned Depp his first Academy Award nomination. He was nominated again the following year, for his portrayal of Peter Pan creator James M. Barrie (Barrie, J.M.) in Finding Neverland (2004). Depp reprised his role of Sparrow in Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End (2007), both of which were among the highest-grossing films ever. In 2007 he reteamed with Burton for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the film adaption of Stephen Sondheim (Sondheim, Stephen)'s musical. As the serial killer Sweeney, Depp earned praise for both his acting and singing.

      Maintaining his early interest in music, Depp played acoustic guitar in the film Chocolat (2000) and on the sound track to Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003). His work, as a guitarist, also appears on albums by the Pogues and Oasis.

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Universalium. 2010.

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