Depp, Johnny 1963–
Depp, Johnny 1963–
Full name, John Christopher Depp II; born June 9, 1963, in Owensboro, KY; raised in Florida; son of John Christopher Depp (a civil engineer) and Betty Sue Palmer (a waitress); brother of Daniel P. Depp (a screenwriter); married Lori Anne Allison (a musician), 1983 (divorced, 1985); companion of Vanessa Paradis (an actress and singer); children: (with Paradis) Lily-Rose Melody, John Christopher III (Jack). Education: Studied acting at the Loft Studio with Peggy Feury.
Addresses: Agent—United Talent Agency, 9560 Wilshire Blvd., Fifth Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist—PMK/HBH Public Relations, 700 San Vicente Blvd., Suite G910, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (some sources cite 8500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Beverly Hills, CA 90211).
Career: Actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. Guitarist in various bands, including the Flames, the Kids, Rock City Angels, and P; owner of the nightclub the Viper Room, Los Angeles, and co-owner of the nightclub Man Ray, Paris, France. Appeared in television commercials and print advertisements. Began working with Make A Wish Foundation, c. 1987; worked with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and the National Arts Initiative, c. 2004. Worked as a pen salesperson and gas station attendant.
Awards, Honors: ShoWest Award, male star of tomorrow, National Association of Theatre Owners, ShoWest Convention, 1990; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, 1991, for Edward Scissorhands; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, MTV Movie Award nomination, best comedic performance, and MTV Movie Award nomination (with Mary Stuart Masterson), best on-screen duo, all 1994, for Benny & Joon; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, 1995, for Ed Wood; ALFS Award, actor of the year, London Critics Circle Film awards, 1996, for Ed Wood and Don Juan DeMarco; Golden Palm Award nomination, Cannes International Film Festival, 1997, for The Brave; Chlotrudis Award, best actor, 1998, for Donnie Brasco; Golden Aires, best foreign actor, Russian Guild of Film Critics, 1998, for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; Honorary Cesar Award, 1999; received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, motion picture category, 1999; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actor—horror, Saturn Award nomination, best actor, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, and Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical, International Press Academy, all 2000, for Sleepy Hollow; Screen Actors Guild Award nomination (with others), outstanding performance by the cast of a theatrical motion picture, 2001, for Chocolat; Saturn Award nomination, best actor, 2002, for From Hell; Actor of the Year Award, Hollywood Film Festival, 2003; named E!'s Entertainer of the Year, E! Entertainment Television, 2003; Screen Actors Guild Award, outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role, Empire Award, best actor, MTV Movie Award, best male performance, Teen Choice Award, choice movie liar, Teen Choice Award (with Orlando Bloom), choice movie fight/action sequence, MTV Movie Awards Mexico, best look, Audience Award, best international actor, Irish Film and Television awards, Academy Award nomination, best actor in a leading role, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, Film Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a leading role, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical, Saturn Award nomination, best actor, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award nomination, best actor, Boston Film Critics Association Award nomination, best actor, MTV Movie Award nomination, best comedic performance, MTV Movie Award nomination (with Orlando Bloom), best on-screen team, and Online Film Critics Society Award nomination, best actor, all 2004, for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a supporting role, comedy or musical, 2004, for Once upon a Time in Mexico; Lee Strasberg Artistic Achievement Award, Actors' Fund, 2004; named best actor of 2004, Entertainment Weekly, 2004; Academy Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a leading role, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role, Film Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a leading role, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Golden Satellite Award nomination, best actor in a motion picture, drama, Saturn Award nomination, best actor, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award nomination, best actor, Boston Film Critics Association Award nomination, best actor, Teen Choice Award nomination, choice movie actor: drama, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination (with others), outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, all 2005, for Finding Neverland; People's Choice Award, favorite male movie star, 2005; named one of the "top ten greatest actors of our generation," GQ magazine, 2005.
Glen Lantz, A Nightmare on Elm Street, New Line Cinema, 1984.
Jack Marshall, Private Resort, TriStar, 1985.
Lerner, Platoon, Orion, 1986.
Title role, Edward Scissorhands, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1990.
Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker, Cry-Baby, Universal, 1990.
(As Oprah Noodlemantra; cameo appearance) Teenager on television, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, New Line Cinema, 1991.
Axel Blackmar, Arizona Dream (also known as The Arrowtooth Waltz), Kit Parker Films, 1992.
Gilbert Grape, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Paramount, 1993.
Sam, Benny & Joon, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1993.
Title role, Ed Wood, Buena Vista, 1994.
Title role, Don Juan DeMarco, New Line Cinema, 1995.
Gene Watson, Nick of Time (also known as Counted Moments), Paramount, 1995.
William "Bill" Blake, Dead Man (also known as Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man"), Miramax, 1995.
Cameo appearance, Cannes Man (also known as Canne$ Man and Con Man), Vine International, 1996.
Title role/Joe Pistone, Donnie Brasco, TriStar, 1997.
Raphael, The Brave, 1997.
Himself, L.A. without a Map (also known as I Love L.A. and Los Angeles without a Map), United Media, 1998.
Raoul Duke/Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, MCA/Universal, 1998.
Commander Spencer Armacost, The Astronaut's Wife, New Line Cinema, 1999.
Constable Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hollow, Paramount, 1999.
Dean Corso, The Ninth Gate (also known as La neuvieme porte and La novena puerta), Artisan Entertainment, 1999.
Himself, The Stars of Star Wars: Interviews from the Cast (documentary), IMC Vision, 1999.
Bon Bon/Lieutenant Victor, Before Night Falls (also known as Antes que anochezca), Fine Line Features, 2000.
Roux, Chocolat, Miramax, 2000.
Cesar, The Man Who Cried (also known as The Man Who Cried in Paris), 2000, Universal Focus, 2001.
George Jung, Blow, New Line Cinema, 2001.
Inspector Fred Abberline, From Hell, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001.
Just to Be Together, 2001.
Himself, Lost in La Mancha (documentary), IFC Films, 2002.
Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (also known as Pirates of the Caribbean), Buena Vista, 2003.
Himself, Breakfast with Hunter (documentary), 2003.
Himself, Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (documentary), 2003.
Himself, Hunter Goes to Hollywood (short documentary), Criterion Collection, 2003.
Sands, Once upon a Time in Mexico, Dimension Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2003.
Earl of Rochester, The Libertine, Warner Bros., 2004.
L'inconnu, Ils se marierent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants (also known as … And They Lived Happily Ever After), Pathe, 2004.
Mort Rainey, Secret Window, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2004.
Sir J. M. (James Matthew) Barrie, Finding Neverland, Miramax, 2004.
Himself, In Search of Ted Demme (documentary), IFC Films, 2005.
Paul Kemp, The Rum Diary, FilmEngine, 2005.
Voice of Victor, Corpse Bride (animated; also known as Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride"), Warner Bros., 2005.
Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Warner Bros., 2005.
Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Buena Vista, 2006.
Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Focus Features, c. 2006.
Director, Banter (short film), Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), 1994.
Director, The Brave, 1997.
Guitarist, Chocolat, Miramax, 2000.
Music producer ("Sands' Theme"), Once upon a Time in Mexico, Dimension Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2003.
Executive producer, In Search of Ted Demme (documentary), IFC Films, 2005.
Television Appearances; Series:
Officer Tom Hanson, 21 Jump Street, Fox, 1987–90.
Television Appearances; Miniseries:
Himself, United States of Poetry, PBS, 1995.
Himself, Music behind the Scenes (documentary), 2001.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Donnie Fleischer, Slow Burn, Showtime, 1986.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Himself, Idols, Fox, 1991.
Himself, Town Meeting with Diane Sawyer: Celebrities vs. the Press, ABC, 1997.
Himself, Where It's At: The Rolling Stone State of the Union, ABC, 1998.
Jack Kerouac, The Source (documentary), PBS, 1999.
Himself, In Bad Taste (documentary), Independent Film Channel, c. 2000.
Himself, A View from Hell (documentary), 2001.
The Inside Reel: Digital Filmmaking (documentary), PBS, 2001.
Reader, Lowell Blues: The Words of Jack Kerouac (documentary), PBS, 2002.
Himself, The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan (documentary), Sci-Fi Channel, 2004.
Himself, 101 Biggest Celebrity Oops, E! Entertainment Television, 2004.
Himself, Happy Birthday Peter Pan (documentary), BBC, 2005.
Himself, Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope, Telemundo, USA Network, CNBC, Trio, Sci-Fi Channel, Bravo, MSNBC, and PAX TV, 2005.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
The 41st Annual Emmy Awards, Fox, 1989.
Presenter, The 66th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1994.
Presenter, The 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1999.
The Sixth Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2000.
Hollywood Salutes Nicolas Cage: An American Cinematheque, TNT, 2002.
E! Entertainer of the Year 2003, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.
Himself, The 76th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2004.
Himself, The 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2004.
Himself, The 2004 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2004.
Himself, Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards '05 (also known as Nickelodeon's 18th Annual Kids' Choice Awards), Nickelodeon, 2005.
Himself, The 77th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2005.
Himself, The 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2005.
Presenter, The 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, TNT, 2005.
The 31st Annual People's Choice Awards, CBS, 2005.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Lionel Viland, "Beasts of Prey," Lady Blue, ABC, 1985.
Rob Cameron, "Unfinished Business," Hotel, ABC, 1987.
ABC in Concert, ABC, 1991.
Himself, Showbiz Today, 1995.
Himself, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1997, 1999, 2000.
Narrator, "The Mossad," Top Secret (documentary), The Discovery Channel, c. 1998.
Narrator, "Scotland Yard," Top Secret (documentary), The Discovery Channel, c. 1998.
The Entertainment Business, Bravo, 1998.
Himself, "Red Nose Day Special," The Vicar of Dibley, BBC, 1999.
(In archive footage) "The Films of Tim Burton," The Directors, Encore, 1999.
Guest, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 1999, 2003.
Himself, "The Last Ever Fast Show," The Fast Show, BBC, 2000.
Himself, "From Hell," HBO First Look, HBO, 2001.
Himself, Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 2002.
Himself, RI:SE, Channel 4 (England), 2002.
Himself, "Johnny Depp: The Ultimate Outsider," 20/20, ABC, 2003.
Himself, "Maailman paras suomalainen musiikkivideo," 4Pop, 2003.
Himself, "Once upon a Time in Mexico," HBO First Look, HBO, 2003.
Himself, "Pirates," The Brendan Leonard Show, ABC Family Channel, 2003.
Himself, Bravo Profiles: Johnny Depp (documentary), Bravo, 2003.
Himself, God kveld Norge, 2003.
Himself, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2003.
(In archive footage) Himself, Celebrities Uncensored, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.
Voice of Yogi Victor, "Hank's Back," King of the Hill (animated), Fox, 2004.
Himself, A2Z, 2004.
Himself, Comme au cinema, 2004.
Himself, Film '04, BBC, 2004.
Himself, On-Air with Ryan Seacrest, syndicated, 2004.
Himself, The Oprah Winfrey Show (also known as Oprah), syndicated, 2004.
Himself, Richard & Judy, Channel 4 (England), 2004.
Coming Attractions, E! Entertainment Television, multiple episodes in 2004.
Himself, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," HBO First Look, HBO, 2005.
Himself, Today (also known as NBC News Today and The Today Show), NBC, 2005.
Appeared as himself, Secrets of Superstar Fitness, Discovery Health.
Himself and Constable Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hollow: Behind the Legend (short documentary), Paramount, 2000.
Himself and Lerner, A Tour of the Inferno: Revisiting "Platoon" (short documentary), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists Home Entertainment, 2001.
Performer in the music video "That Woman's Got Me Drinking," If I Should Fall from Grace: The Shane MacGowan Story, Buena Vista International/Network Ireland Television/Sundance Channel, 2001.
Himself, Diary of a Pirate (short documentary), Buena Vista, 2003.
Himself, An Epic at Sea: The Making of "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (short documentary), Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2003.
Himself, The Anti-Hero's Journey (short documentary), Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment, 2004.
Himself, The Good, the Bad & the Bloody: Inside KNB EFX (short documentary), Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment, 2004.
Himself, Pie Plates over Hollywood (short documentary), Buena Vista Home Video, 2004.
Himself, Secret Window: A Look through It (short documentary), Columbia Home Video, 2004.
Himself, Secret Window: From Book to Film (short documentary), Columbia Home Video, 2004.
Himself and Edward D. Wood, Jr., Making Bela (short documentary), 2004.
Music Video Appearances:
Concrete Blonde, "Joey," 1990.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Into the Great Wide Open," 1991.
The Lemonheads, "It's a Shame about Ray," 1992.
Shane MacGowen & the Pogues, "That Woman's Got Me Drinking," 1994.
Terri Clark, "Girls Lie Too," 2004.
Appeared in other music videos.
Music Video Director:
Vanessa Paradis, "Pourtant," 2001.
Vanessa Paradis, "Que fait la vie?," 2001.
Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean, Bethesda Softworks, 2003.
Voice of Jack Sparrow, Kingdom Hearts II, Square Electronic Arts/Square Enix U.S.A., 2005.
Nick Tosches, In the Hands of Dante, 2002.
(With Daniel P. Depp and Paul McCudden) The Brave, 1997.
Film Music; Songs:
"Sands' Theme," Once upon a Time in Mexico, Dimension Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2003.
Wrote other songs, including a song with Iggy Pop.
(Author of foreword) Mark Salisbury, Burton on Burton, Faber, 1995.
Contributor to periodicals, including Rolling Stone.
Bassom, David, Johnny Depp: An Illustrated Story, Hamlyn, 1996.
Goodall, Nigel, Johnny Depp: The Biography, Blake Publishing, 1999.
Hawes, Esme, Johnny Depp, Chelsea House, 1997.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, fourth edition, St. James Press, 2000.
Pomerance, Murray, Johnny Depp Starts Here, Rutgers University Press, 2005.
Reisfeld, Randi, Johnny Depp, St. Martin's Press, 1989.
Robb, Brian J., Johnny Depp: A Modern Rebel, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996.
Cosmopolitan, November, 1993.
Empire, December, 1998, pp. 82-83.
Entertainment Weekly, July 25, 2003, pp. 10-11; September 19, 2003, pp. 28-34; December 26, 2003, p. 22; February 6, 2004, p. 36; July 8, 2005, pp. 23-27.
Examiner (San Francisco), November 22, 1999.
Film Review, February, 2000, pp. 60-61.
GQ, October, 1993.
Harper's Bazaar, May, 1993; December, 1995.
Interview, July, 1987; April, 1990, p. 84; June, 1994; December, 1995; October, 1999, p. 108.
Movieline, October, 1994; March, 2001, pp. 44-48, 92.
People Weekly, June 14, 1999, p. 10; December 13, 1999, p. 91; May 14, 2001, p. 98; December 2, 2002, p. 186; July 21, 2003, p. 67; December 1, 2003, pp. 71, 72; November 22, 2004, p. 110.
Playboy, January, 1996.
Premiere, February, 1995; December, 1999.
Radio Times, May 18, 2002, p. 56.
Rolling Stone, January 10, 1991; February 10, 2005, pp. 52-58.
Sky, April, 1994.
Time, March 15, 2004, p. 76; April 18, 2005, p. 132.
Time Out, July 7, 1993; April 2, 1997.
TV Guide, February 21, 2004, p. 32.
Urban Cinefile, August 23, 2001.
US, February, 1994.
USA Today, November 29, 1999.
Vanity Fair, February, 1997.
Nationality: American. Born: John Christopher Depp, Owensboro, Kentucky, 9 June 1963; raised in Miramar, Florida. Family: Married Lori Anne Allison (divorced). Education: Dropped out of high school in Miramar, Florida, at age 16. Career: 1976—at 13 started his own rock group, Flame; later played lead guitar with band, The Kids, who opened shows for the B-52s, Talking Heads, and Iggy Pop; subsequently with the Rock City Angels; 1980—film debut in Friday the 13th; 1987–90—as Tom Hanson in TV series 21 Jump Street; owner of the Viper Room, a rock-n-roll club. Awards: ShoWest Male Star of Tomorrow Award, 1990. Agent: International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211, U.S.A.
Films as Actor:
Friday the 13th (Sean S. Cunningham)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (Craven) (as Glen Lantz)
Private Resort (George Bowers) (as Jack Marshall)
Platoon (Oliver Stone) (as Lerner); Slow Burn (Matthew Chapman—for TV)
Cry-Baby (Waters) (title role); Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton) (title role)
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (Talalay) (cameo)
Arizona Dream (Kusturica) (as Axel Blackmar)
Benny & Joon (Chechik) (as Sam); What's Eating Gilbert Grape (Hallström) (title role)
Ed Wood (Tim Burton) (title role)
Nick of Time (Badham) (as Gene Watson); Don Juan DeMarco (Jeremy Leven) (title role)
Donnie Brasco (Newell); Dead Man (Jarmusch) (as William Blake)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Gilliam) (as Raoul Duke); The Astronaut's Wife (Ravich) (as Spencer Armacost)
By DEPP: articles—
Interview in Interview (New York), July 1987.
Interview with John Waters, in Interview (New York), April 1990.
Interview with Anita Chaudhuri, in Time Out (London), 7 July 1993.
Interview with Jamie Diamond, in Cosmopolitan (New York), November 1993.
Interview with Brendan Lemon, in Interview (New York), December 1995.
Interview with Kevin Cook, in Playboy (Chicago), January 1996.
Interview with Tom Charity, in Time Out (London), 2 April 1997.
On DEPP: books—
Reisfeld, Randi, Johnny Depp, New York, 1989.
Robb, Brian J., Johnny Depp: A Modern Rebel, London, 1996.
Goodall, Nigel, Johnny Depp: The Biography, London, 1999.
Hunter, Jack D., Johnny Depp: Movie Top Ten, Berkeley, California, 1999.
On DEPP: articles—
Zehme, Bill, "Sweet Sensation," in Rolling Stone (New York), 10 January 1991.
Morgan, Susan, "Depp Perception," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), May 1993.
Schneller, Johanna, "Johnny Angel," in GQ (New York), October 1993.
"Beat Poet Alan Ginsberg and Actor-on-the-Beat Johnny Depp in a Conversation that Spans the Nation and the Generations," in Interview (New York), June 1994.
Beller, Thomas, "Fame Is a Four-Letter Word," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), December 1995.
Jabloñski, Witold, "Don Juan i umarlak," in Kino (Warsaw), October 1996.
Pol, Gerwin van der, "De verloren onschuld van Johnny Depp," in Skrien (Netherlands), October 1997.
* * *
In watching Johnny Depp in his early movies, one may have been charmed by his performances, such as that in Cry-Baby, but few would have claimed the young man was destined to become one of the finest actors/stars/presences of his generation. One could not, back then, be aware of his potential range—both emotional range and range of characterization. A mere five years after Cry-Baby, we find him in Don Juan DeMarco, paired with Marlon Brando, no less, and elegantly holding his own. He is perhaps, in his way, Brando's equal—though an equal as different as can be imagined, Depp's performance style being far removed from Method-derived acting.
In many respects he seems a strange anomaly in contemporary Hollywood, with its preoccupation with violent action or special effects in movies characterized by the hysterical overvaluation of masculinity in the persons of stars such as Stallone and Schwarzenegger (an obvious response to feminism, and already disintegrating into self-parody). While his image has been consistently rooted in male heterosexuality (even when he cross-dresses in Ed Wood), he is surely the least aggressively masculine of all currently popular stars. His persona is centered upon gentleness, sensitivity, vulnerability, and an emotional as well as physical delicacy. This was already evident in Cry-Baby (and to be capable of expressing delicacy in a John Waters movie is already an achievement), but received its definitive formulation in Edward Scissorhands, made the same year, which is a somewhat disappointing film, but Depp's pathetic, sweet, and lovable freak, whose inventor (Vincent Price) dies before he could give him "real" hands, is unforgettably poignant and touching. Indeed, the irreducible sweetness is already there in a film Depp would doubtless not care to be reminded of: the 1985 Private Resort, a typically mindless boys-trying-to-get-laid comedy in which he looks about 15 years old and is rather charmingly miscast as a frantic pursuer of tits-and-ass.
The much more textured "Scissorhands" persona was developed further in the two films of 1993, Benny & Joon and What's Eating Gilbert Grape. The former—a little movie rendered almost irresistible by its three stars—gave Depp's comedic talents their full expression, especially in his celebrated Buster Keaton routine; like Keaton (and unlike, for example, Jim Carrey), Depp knows that you can only be really funny if you never, never suggest that you know you are being funny. In What's Eating Gilbert Grape he found, perhaps, his most sympathetic director aside from Tim Burton, Lasse Hallström, a filmmaker with a sensibility of a delicacy to match Depp's. Any other actor in the role wold surely have been upstaged by Leonardo di Caprio's extraordinary performance in a far more showy role; Depp and Hallström have understood that quietness and understatement can make an equally telling and indelible impression.
Three films released in 1994 and 1995 contain marvelous performances that show a broadening of his range without ever betraying the qualities and values of his basic persona. The most recent of the three, Nick of Time, a silly, gimmicky movie unworthy of Depp's talents, demands little attention, but Depp gives it what distinction it has in his portrayal of a very ordinary, unimaginative young bureaucrat spurred into activity and inventiveness by the threat to his little daughter's life—Depp's first "ordinary" character. Ed Wood and Don Juan DeMarco are another matter; they are, with Gilbert Grape, the most distinguished films in which Depp has appeared so far, and are both (not to belittle the quite marvelous support he gets) essentially carried on his own apparently slender shoulders.
Ed Wood reunites him with Tim Burton, and they have collaborated to develop a character (does anyone really care whether it is factually accurate?) that both takes up and extends the "Scissorhands" persona. Like the earlier Edward, Depp's Edward D. Wood, Jr. is at once a "freak" and an artist: an artist so caught up in his delight in creation that he is never able to recognize that his products are worthless, and will in fact end up being celebrated as the "worst films ever made." Yet it is doubtful whether anyone—not even Kirk Douglas's van Gogh—has been able more convincingly to communicate on screen the sheer joy of creativity. The Burton-Depp Ed Wood is at once funny, touching, and pathetic, yet oddly inspirational; the suggestion is that the delight in creation is sufficient unto itself, irrespective of the value posterity places upon the works. After all, one of our culture's greatest artists, Schubert, composed a number of his supreme works without the least guarantee or even expectation that they would ever be performed. This is not to collapse Schubert's great intelligence with Edward D. Wood's virtually insane delusions of grandeur—we are concerned here with personal pleasure and satisfaction, not objective value.
Depp's Don Juan DeMarco (in the film of the same name) is an equally remarkable assumption, in certain ways closely paralleling his Ed Wood. Here, creativity is recast in sexual terms, in which the character's fantasy is no longer that he produces great art, but that he brings a transitory happiness to frustrated women. Depp's Don Juan can best be defined by juxtaposition with Mozart's Don Giovanni. Mozart's Don is an extraordinarily—almost bafflingly—complex figure: a social/sexual revolutionary who breaks all the restrictive conventions of the culture, yet always at the expense of those (especially women) in a socially inferior and vulnerable position. He is at once the hero and the villain of the opera. Against Don Giovanni's exploitation of women we have Don Juan DeMarco's total identification with them, his assumed role as "great lover" built less upon personal gratification than on empathy and compassion. Depp's Don Juan is unlike Ed Wood in that he is not entirely the victim of delusion; he really does change people's lives. The film clarifies most beautifully the very basis of the persona, its fascination and complexity—strong and unambiguous heterosexual appeal, combined with an extreme and potentially revolutionary femininity.
Depp's recent work shows him, far from being content to rest on his laurels, fearlessly electing to appear in offbeat and uncommercial films (Dead Man, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) when they offer him roles that extend his range and present him with challenges. His performance in the more mainstream Donnie Brasco carries him into Scorsese territory, as an undercover agent whose task is to infiltrate the Mafia; he brings to it a new emotional maturity. Joe Pistone/"Donnie Brasco" is seen by the ageing mafioso Lefty (Al Pacino) as an alternative son, a role whose implications Joe gradually accepts, his diction and behaviour-patterns changing as he becomes the imaginary person he is supposedly acting. He ends up trying to save the increasingly weary and expendable older man, for whom he has come to feel both respect and compassion, from his inevitable fate. Depp makes us feel that we are watching Joe's sense of his identity disintegrate before our eyes. His progress from confident activity to a total disillusionment as the clear division between black and white, Mafia and FBI, dissolves into a uniform greyness leads to the film's ultimate desolation. Depp's unmannered, understated acting contrasts effectively with Pacino's equally brilliant, more flamboyant "method" performance, which would overshadow a lesser actor.
Fear and Loathing seems somewhat marginal to Depp's career: he becomes less an actor than a "performer," there being barely any character for him to inhabit; what he has to do, he does well. Dead Man is quite another matter, one of the peaks so far both of his and Jim Jarmusch's work. Jarmusch remains faithful to the minimalist absurdism of his early work, but develops it here to the point where it takes on new depth and resonance. Depp's characteristic reticence, a kind of modesty of expression and gesture (he appears to be doing so little, yet achieves so much), becomes the perfect vehicle for the realization of the bleakness of the director's vision. Sleepy Hollow returns him for the third time to Tim Burton; Depp's Ichabod Crane, outwardly assured, inwardly vulnerable, firmly anchors Burton's brilliant flights of invention in a calm core of purity.
His two latest films make a somewhat odd pair: The Astronaut's Wife is a virtual remake of Rosemary's Baby (with aliens replacing the devil); The Ninth Gate is about devil-worship and is directed by Polanski. The latter received the more favourable critical response, no doubt in deference to the director; although generally scorned, The Astronaut's Wife is perhaps, by a short margin, the better film, regaining some of the disturbing quality of its famous original. The Ninth Gate, engrossing enough for much of its length, leaves one feeling that it's well made, but why should anyone want to make it? Depp's presence lends distinction to both, but neither adds anything significant to his already remarkable achievement.
Vanessa Paradis was a teen pop sensation in her native France in the 1980s. At the age of 14 she recorded a pop single about a Paris taxi driver, titled "Joe le Taxi," which spent eleven weeks at at the number one spot in France and became an international smash hit as well. In the United States, however, Paradis is better known as the partner of actor Johnny Depp, with whom she has two children. A writer for the London newspaper Independent Sunday described her as a "French sex kitten of sub-[Brigitte] Bardot variety, endowed with mysterious superstarlet status despite infrequency of international bits."
Paradis, who uses her given name, was born in 1972 in Saint-Maur-Des-Fossés, a suburb of Paris. Her parents ran an interior design business, and her uncle, Didier Pain, was an actor who moved on to record producing. Thanks to Pain, she won a spot on a television talent showcase at the age of seven, singing a song called "Emilie Jolie." When she was 14, Pain introduced her to Etienne Roda-Gil, a well-known figure in French pop music who had written a string of hits in the 1960s and 1970s. He penned a song about a Parisian taxi driver for Paradis, and "Joe le Taxi" swept the French pop charts in 1987. It also reached number one in 13 other countries—even in Britain, where French-language tracks rarely do that well on the charts. An Independent Sunday assessment some years later described the song as a "candied rendition" that the then-teenager "pouted her way" through, but at the time, taxi drivers across Europe named their vehicles "Joey" in homage to the song.
Paradis went on to record a full-length LP, M&J, released on Polygram's French subsidiary in 1987. Her young, vixenish looks made her a star, but the sudden fame also made her a virtual outcast at the Paris school she attended as a teen. She was roundly slammed in the press and even jeered at in public. "People started to react in a really mean way, and it was really disproportionate to what I was and what I was doing—this teenage girl singing this cute little song," she recalled in an interview with Nui Te Koha of the Melbourne, Australia, Herald Sun. It seemed even odder when she considered her country's history of producing sugary pop ditties sung by kittenish teenaged girls. "They're left alone … even if their music is worse than mine or their personality is worse than mine," she told Koha. "I think people attacked me because the song was so successful, so you have to bring it down, drag it down. It's a human thing."
Paradis made her film debut at age 16, starring in Noce Blanche ("White Wedding") as the mistress of a middle-aged man, and even won a César award, France's Oscar equivalent, for Best Newcomer in 1990. Despite the honor, she suffered renewed public criticism. "Women hated me," she recalled in an interview with journalist Caroline Graham of London's Mail on Sunday. "People had this image of me as someone completely cretinous. It was a shock. I never understood why. They would write 'slut' on the walls of my house and call me names."
Paradis's second LP, Variations sur le Meme T'Aime, featured lyrics written for her by French pop raconteur Serge Gainsbourg. The 1990 record was thoroughly dance-pop, save for a cover of the Lou Reed classic "Walk on the Wild Side." Finished with school, Paradis moved on to a career in modeling. She was signed by Chanel as a spokesmodel for its Coco fragrance in 1991, with an ad that featured her dressed as an exotic caged bird. Romantically linked with rocker Lenny Kravitz by then, she began to learn English in preparation for her self-titled English-language debut album in 1992. Vanessa Paradis was produced by Kravitz and featured nine tracks written by him, including "Be My Baby" and "Your Love Has Got a Handle on My Mind." The album also included another Lou Reed classic, "I'm Waiting for the Man." The record gained a small measure of attention in the United States, but reviews were mixed. A critic for Time found that "even [the] best songs have a predictable, surface appeal."
Returning to acting, Paradis made a film, Elisa, with renowned French actor Gerard Depardieu in 1995, but became more of a full-fledged international celebrity—and notorious yet again—when she began dating Johnny Depp in 1998. The American actor, best known at the time for his lead roles in Edward Scissorhands and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was in Paris filming The Ninth Gate with director Roman Polanski, and had been dating English supermodel Kate Moss for four years. The trauma of their break-up reportedly sent Moss into a substance-abuse treatment facility, and once again Paradis was widely reviled in the pages of Europe's tabloid press.
Paradis became pregnant just a few months after she and Depp began dating, and their daughter, Lily-Rose Melody, was born in 1999. That same year she returned to the big screen with The Girl on the Bridge, directed by French filmmaker Patrice Leconte, and the film earned good reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. In it, Paradis plays a lovelorn woman who meets a stranger on a bridge, where both are planning to commit suicide. French heartthrob Daniel Auteuil, cast as a knife-thrower in a carnival, saves her after she jumps, and the two begin an erotically charged relationship as partners in his carnival act. Interview's Diane Baroni called it "one of the year's most surprising performances."
In 2000 Paradis released her fourth studio LP, Bliss, another French-language work. She has also recorded two live concerts, released as Live in 1994 and Vanessa Paradis Au Zenith in 2001. She and Depp had another child, Jack, in 2002. The following year the couple appeared in Lost in La Mancha, a documentary film about the problematic filming by Terry Gilliam of a new film version of the Spanish classic Don Quixote. She was also slated to appear in a 2004 science-fiction film, Atomik Circus: Le Retour de James Bataille, and to sing on its soundtrack accompanied by the Little Rabbits, a French rock group.
Paradis and Depp have homes in Paris, the South Coast of England, and in Cote d'Azur, a Mediterranean resort area in the south of France. She has often stated that she would willingly give up singing and acting if the needs of her family dictated. "I'm not a very big career woman," she told Graham. "I have done well because I've been lucky—I have had no formal singing or acting lessons—and because people have been interested in me. Of course, I didn't just wait on the couch, but I don't know if I deserve it."
For the Record …
Born on December 22, 1972, in Saint-Maur-Des-Fossés, France; daughter of Andre and Corinne Paradis (interior design firm owners); children (with actor Johnny Depp): Lily-Rose Melody, Jack.
Released first single, "Joe le Taxi," in France in 1986; song reached number one in 14 countries; released first LP, M&J, on Polygram, 1987; first English-language LP, Vanessa Paradis, released in 1992.
Awards: César Award, Best Newcomer, 1990.
Addresses: Record company—c/o Polygram Promotions, 22, rue des Fossés St. Jacques, 75235 Paris, France.
"Joe le Taxi," Polydor, 1987.
M&J, Polygram, 1987.
Variations sur le Meme T'Aime, Polygram, 1990.
Vanessa Paradis, Polydor, 1992.
Live, Polygram, 1994.
Bliss, Universal, 2000.
Vanessa Paradis Au Zenith (live), Polygram, 2001.
Daily Variety, January 28, 2003, p. 10.
Entertainment Weekly, November 27, 1992, p. 82; August 11, 2000, p. 52.
Harper's Bazaar, August 2000, p. 106.
Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), April 6, 2000, p. 37.
Independent Sunday (London, England), December 13, 1998, p. 3.
Interview, December 2000, p. 36.
Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 19, 2000, p. 6.
New Yorker, February 3, 2003, p. 98.
People, June 14, 1999, p. 10; August 7, 2000, p. 37; February 25, 2002, p. 77.
Time, March 1, 1993, p. 69; July 31, 2000, p. 62.
Time International, April 29, 2002, p. 13.
"Vanessa Paradis," MSN Entertainment: Celebs, http://entertainment.msn.com/celebs/ (August 24, 2004).
Paradis, Vanessa 1972-
Paradis, Vanessa 1972-
Full name, Vanessa Chantal Paradis; born December 22, 1972, in Saint-Maur-des-Fosses, Val-de-Marne, France; daughter of Andre (co-owner of interior design company) and Corrine (co-owner of interior design company) Paradis; sister of Alysson Paradis (an actress); children (with Johnny Depp, an actor) Lily-Rose Melody, Jack.
Office—c/o PolyGram Promotions, 22, rue des Fosses St. Jacques, 75235 Paris, France.
Actress and singer. Also worked as an model and singer; signed as face of Chanel, 1991; appeared in print ads and commercials for Chanel.
Prix Romy Schneider, 1990; Cesar Award, most promising actress, Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema, 1990, for Noce blanche; Cesar Award nomination, best actress, 2000, for La fille sur le pont.
Mathilde Tessier, Noce blanche (also known as White Wedding), 1989.
Herself, Les enfoires chantent Starmania (documentary), 1993.
Herself, De Serge Gainsbourg a Gainsbarre de 1958-1991 (documentary), PolyGram Video, 1994.
Marie Desmoulin, Elisa, 1995.
Morgane, Un amour de sorciere (also known as Witch Way Love), UGC-Fox Distribution, 1997.
Herself, Le zenith des enfoires, 1997.
Voice of la voix du novuel age, Le plaisir (et ses petits tracas) (also known as Pleasure (And Its Little Inconveniences)), PolyGram Film Distribution, 1998.
Alice Tomaso, Une chance sux deux (also known as Half a Chance), UGC-Fox Distribution, 1998.
Herself, Enfoires en coeur, 1998.
Adele, La fille sur le pont (also known as The Girl on the Bridge), Paramount Classics, 1999.
Herself, Les enfoires: derniere edition avant l'an 2000 (documentary), 1999.
Herself, Lost in La Mancha (documentary), IFC Films, 2002.
Marina Galino, Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding, 2004.
Concia, Atomik Circus—Le retour de James Bataille (also known as The Return of James Battle), TFM Distribution, 2004.
Colette, Mon ange, MK2 Diffusion, 2004.
(French version) Voice of Margote, The Magic Roundabout (animated; also known as Doogal, Pollux—Le manege enchante, Sprung! The Magic Roundabout, and The Magic Roundabout), Weinstein Company, 2005.
La cle, 2007.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Herself, Vamps et femmes fatales du cinema europeen, 2001.
Herself, Les 40 ans de la 2, 2004.
The 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2004.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Top of the Pops (also known as All New Top of the Pops and TOTP), BBC, 1988, 1992.
Herself, Les nuls l'emission, 1990.
The Word, Channel 4, 1992.
Star Boulevard, 2002.
En aparte, 2004.
Comme au cinema (also known as Comme au cinema: l'emission and Comme au cinema: le magazine), 2004.
Tout le monde en parle, 2004, 2005.
On ne peut pas plaire a tout le monde (also known as O.N.P.P., ONPP vu de la loge, ONPP vu del plage, ONPP vu du bocal, and ONPP vu du desert), 2005.
Corazon de, 2005.
Herself, Silenci?, 2005.
Herself, C'est bon pour le moral, 2006.
M & J, PolyGram, 1988.
Variations sur le meme t'aime, PolyGram, 1990.
Vanessa Paradis, Polydor, 1992.
Vanessa Paradis Live, PolyGram, 1994.
Bliss, Universal, 2000.
Vanessa Paradis Au Zenith (live), PolyGram, 2001.
Television Scores; Specials:
Contemporary Musicians, Vol. 50, Gale Group, 2004.
Interview, December, 2000, p. 36.
People Weekly, June 14, 1999, p. 10.