John Christopher Depp II was born in Owensboro, Kentucky on June 9, 1963. The Roman numeral after his name determined that the new arrival would always be called Johnny, not John: "John Depp is my father," the actor tells interviewers who wonder if, at 41, he wants to drop the nickname for a more stately monicker. He does not. He has always been Johnny, and the name, with its suggestion of eternal youth and boundless affection, suits him perfectly.
Johnny didn't have a happy-go-lucky childhood. His family moved frequently and there was friction between his parents. As the youngest of the four Depp children, Johnny was least equipped to deal with the turmoil. Asked by an interviewer from Playboy if he felt "damaged as a child" or if he had "a relatively normal childhood," Johnny conceded that his early years were "strange [. . .]. It wasn't until I started going to other kids' houses and hanging out, having dinner, seeing what a family is supposed to do that I saw that we weren't normal." His parents' divorce, when Johnny was 15, was both inevitable and traumatic. "It had been coming for quite a long time," Johnny told PLAYBOY. "I"m surprised they lasted that long, bless their hearts. I think they tried to keep it together for the kids, and then they couldn't anymore." Today, John Depp owns a business in Florida; Johnny's mother, Betty Sue Palmer, eventually remarried, and Johnny's success in Hollywood made it possible for her to quit waitressing.
Johnny and his mother have always been close; one of his many tattoos reads "Betty Sue." Fans got a glimpse of her at the 2004 Academy Awards, when she proudly walked the red carpet with her Oscar-nominated son and his partner, Vanessa Paradis.
Johnny is also very close to his siblings. His sister Debbie prefers to stay out of the limelight, but sister Christi Dembrowski has been actively involved in Johnny's career. Christi was Johnny's personal assistant for years, and was named president of Johnny's film production company, Inifinitum Nihil, on its founding in 2004. Johnny's older brother Danny is responsible for shaping Johnny's taste in music and literature. "I was very lucky to have my brother, who is ten years older than me and a real smart guy," Johnny told Playboy. "He turned me on to Van Morrison and Bob Dylan." Danny has also been involved in Johnny's career; he co-wrote the screenplay of The Brave with Johnny.
Johnny's Cherokee heritage comes from both sides of his family, but is particularly strong on his mother's side. Johnny's great-grandmother, Minnie, was a full-blooded Cherokee. He also has Irish and German ancestry. He discussed his ethnicity in a television interview in 2002:
Interviewer: Indian origins?
Johnny Depp: Yeah, I'm a sort of --
Johnny Depp: Yeah, I'm a mixture of all sorts of things.
Interviewer: German, Irish?
Johnny Depp: Yeah. Pu-pu platter, yeah. Combination of weird things. Indian, Irish, German and god knows what. Just a mutt, really.
An early marriage to make-up artist Lori Anne Allison (1983-85) lasted less than two years but had one lasting effect: Lori Anne introduced Johnny to Nicolas Cage. As a member of the famous Coppola family, Cage had grown up in the movie business; he recognized something special in Johnny and urged him to explore acting as a career.
Johnny has had serious relationships with a number of famous beauties: Hollywood actresses Sherilyn Fenn (1986-88), Jennifer Grey (1989), and Winona Ryder, to whom Johnny was engaged from February 26, 1990 to June 21, 1993; and British supermodel Kate Moss (1994-early 1998). All were volatile and ultimately doomed by career pressures and incompatible personal goals.
While filming Roman Polanksis The Ninth Gate in Paris in the late spring of 1998, Johnny encountered the French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis. It was love at second sight the couple had met briefly four years earlier and they have been happily sharing a life together ever since. They are not married, but, as Johnny told Playboy in May 2004, for all intents and purposes, we are married. We have two kids together, and shes the woman of my life.
Johnny has two beautiful children with Vanessa Paradis daughter Lily-Rose Melody Depp, born on May 27, 1999, and son Jack John Christopher Depp III, born on April 9, 2002. His children, Johnny told GQ's Lucy Kaylin , gave me everything. A reason to live . [. . .] A reason to learn, a reason to breathe, a reason to care. Asked this spring by OK! Magazine if he enjoyed fatherhood, Johnny replied: I have become a perfect example of all the paternity cliches I laughed at for years. I look forward to having more children. Id have a hundred if Vanessa were willing. For me, family is the most important thing in the world.
Johnny has homes in Los Angeles, USA and in the south of France. When Johnny isnt filming, he lives in France with Vanessa and their children. This spring he was also rumored to be buying a house in the UK, but a British press report that he had actually purchased a home in Rye has never been confirmed. However, in late June, Johnny bought a private 35-acre island in the Bahamas. The island, a mile long by 1300 feet wide, has two luxurious cottages, six private white sand beaches, and an interior lagoon. Although plans have been approved to build a private harbor and marina, at the present time the island is accessibile only by sea plane. Sounds like Captain Jack Sparrow would be right at home there!
Music has been Johnny's passion since his mother bought him his first guitar when he was about 13 years old. He played in several bands in Florida, where his family lived, and finally formed the band The Kids who provided support for acts such as Iggy Pop. The Kids moved to Los Angeles hoping to find fame and fortune - instead of which fame found Johnny in the form of A Nightmare on Elm Street and a career in acting.
Johnny has lots of friends in the music business including Iggy Pop, Chuck E Weiss, Shane MacGowan, Keith Richards, and the Taraf de Haidouks, and he's been involved in several music videos and albums. You can read more here.
The only film (so far) in which Johnny plays his guitar onscreen is Chocolat (2000).
The band P consists of actors Johnny Depp and Sal Jenco and musicians Bill Carter and Gibby Haynes. Active in the 1990s, although not sighted much recently, they were known to play the odd gig at The Viper Room, the club that Johnny once co-owned at 8852 W. Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. Their only album to date, also titled P, was released in November 1995 on the Capitol label.
Johnny also contributed to Vanessa Paradis' album Bliss, released in November 2000. He co-wrote the songs "St Germain" and "Bliss" with Vanessa, plays lead guitar on the song "Firmaman," and photographed the album's cover portrait of her. He also directed the music videos of "Que fait la vie?" and "Pourtant."
Johnny wrote Sands Theme for Robert Rodriguezs Once upon a Time in Mexico (2003). I asked several of the actors (musicians in their own right) to come up with musical ideas that best represented the characters they were playing, writes Rodriguez in the liner notes for the films soundtrack. Johnny Depp went out and wrote a whole piece for his character. [. . . which] plays in the movie when Johnny steps out of the taxi cab to get dressed for the Coup de Etat. On the soundtrack, Sands Theme is performed by Tontos Giant Nuts, a band consisting of Johnny, Bill Carter (from P), Bruce Witkin, and Ruth Ellsworth; they share the writing/producing credit on the CD.
Infinitum Nihil is the name of Johnnys new production company (the name means infinite nothing in Latin). Yes, Johnny will be developing and producing movies now. On June 12, 2004, Variety announced that Infinitum Nihil had accepted a three-year, first-look production deal with Graham King's Initial Entertainment Group. Under the terms of the non-exclusive deal, Initial will fully finance and co-produce films with Infinitum Nihil, reports Variety. Initial will also cover Infinitum Nihils overhead costs and will provide a discretionary fund for project development. Johnny is CEO of the new company, and his sister and longtime personal assistant Christi Dembrowski is Infinitum Nihils president. Director of development will be Sam Sarkar. Infinitum Nihil will have offices in LA.
The first movie to be produced by Infinitum Nihil and Initial will be Happy Days. This has nothing to do with a remake of the 1970s TV series with Richie, Potsie, and the Fonz! No, this is a film adaptation of a prize-winning French novel by Laurent Graff, a dark comedy about a man so obsessed with the idea of deaths inevitability that he detaches himself from life and moves into a retirement community at age 35. But when a new resident with terminal cancer arrives, the detached Antoine begins to learn that there is more to life than a philosophical acceptance of its brevity. Johnny will be producing this movie with Graham King. There is no word yet on whether the CEO will also star in his companys first production, but the leading role of Antoine in Happy Days does sound like the kind of off-center, mordantly funny, already dead character that Johnny loves to bring to life.