“You use your money to buy privacy because during most of your life you aren’t allowed to be normal.”Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp
What has Johnny Depp in common with Mike Tyson?

Most things in life have a good side…and a bad one, dark parts and bright parts. There are two sides to every coin. For every Jennifer Lawrence there is a Johnny Depp.  In fact, several of them.

The Jack Sparrow actor is perhaps best known for his outstanding performances in The Pirates of The Caribbean. These have earned him fame, wealth and the ear of the most powerful people in Hollywood.

While, over the years, Depp has made a lot of money from his various starring film roles, he has never really learned how to manage it. He is almost the caricature of the Hollywood A-list actor.  His star shines so bright; his talent is enormous, his income almost beyond comprehension.  Yet at the same time, his lifestyle is like his fashion quirks – a constant drama.

For all that, Johnny Depp can offer us lessons to learn, and like him, they are entertaining in the extreme.

Upbringing and Career

Depp was born John Christopher Depp in Owensboro, Kentucky in 1963 to John and Betty Sue Depp. He is the youngest among four children. His father was a civil engineer, and his mother was a waitress and a housewife. He admitted that as a child he was introverted, and his parents even though he had Tourette’s syndrome.  Johnny says that they rarely settled in any place for long because they had to accommodate his father’s work commitments. Eventually, they arrived in Miramar, Florida at a time when Depp was just 7 years old. They rented a hotel room until his father gained a job. Depp abhorred his new home.  By just 12 years of age he says that he had begun to experiment with drugs.  The reason for this was to release the stresses that came from his family’s problems.

Three years later, when Johnny was 15 years, his parents separated. Although relationships between him and his father were not good, he would visit his father for a weekly trial so that his mother would get her child support.  Eventually, Johnny severed ties with his father altogether.

When Depp was 16 years old, he dropped out of school and established a garage band, The Kids. They became so popular that they curtain raised for the “Talking Heads” and the “B-52s.”

At 20 years of age, Johnny met up with make-up artist, Lori Allison, five years his senior, and they got married the same year – 1983. The newlyweds quickly moved to Los Angeles in the hope of a breakthrough for Depp’s band. Like many who traveled west only to see their dreams smashed, the group failed to make it big. The band found themselves on a very tight budget, which they financed through selling pens for a telemarketing entity.

The following year Lori introduced him to Nicholas Cage,  who was her former husband. Through his contacts, Cage introduced the enthusiastic musician to a Hollywood Agent and Depp fell from music into acting. Later on, after Depp had played several parts as an extra or in small roles, he got his first proper breakthrough, appearing in Nightmare on Elm Street, a horror movie made in 1984.

But if his professional life was gaining velocity, Depp’s private one was not.  His marriage to Lori Allison ended, and through the 1980s he found himself going from one short-term relationship to another.

With his private life up and down Depp now put most of his efforts in studying acting. With a special coach at Loft Studios, he topped his classes. His commitment to studying the profession paid off in 1987, when he succeeded actor, Jeff Yagher, in the portrayal of a covert policeman, Tommy Hanson, for the well-known Canadian TV series, 21 Jump Street. This act exposed Depp to practically instant acclaim. He was labeled a teen idol, a title he really abhorred. When his contract with Jump Street ended in 1989, he sought to cast off the teen heartthrob label and chose instead to pursue even more challenging goals.

Progression to Money and Fame

In 1990, Depp built on his career break, starring in Cry Baby, directed by John Walters. In this very same year, he played the eponymous leading role in the Tim Burton fantasy film, Edward Scissorhands. This movie earned $54 million at the box office, gained critical admiration, cult status and, in the process, established Depp as a top-level actor.

In 1994, he reunited with Director Tim Burton on Ed Wood, a biography of the infamously untalented B movie director. This film went on to earn Depp a particular commendation and another Golden Globe nomination. Other notable films in the late ’90s include Don Juan DeMarco (1995), in which Depp plays a character who believes he is the famous fictional character Don Juan, and Donnie Bracco (1997), which featured Depp as an undercover FBI agent seeking to infiltrate the Bonano crime family. In 1998, Depp took up the role of journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s alter ego in Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. During filming, Depp cultivated a strong friendship with Thompson, which lasted until Thompson’s death in 2005.  Depp financed his friend’s funeral, bringing it to wide public attention. More on this later. He also teamed up with Burton once more in his adaptation of Washington Irvine’s Sleepy Hollow, starring as the prim, compulsively driven Ichabod Crane.

In 2004, Depp starred as Jack Sparrow for the first time, in the Pirates of the Caribbean. This family adventure movie went on to break box office records and, not least thanks to Depp’s critically acclaimed starring role in the movie, the ‘Pirates’ franchise was born.  There really had never been a pirate quite like Johnny Depp before. At the close of that year, Depp also turned in a highly praised performance in Finding Neverland, where he starred as the Peter Pan creator, J.M. Barrie. The film went on to get him more than 10 award nominations, including both Academy and Golden Globe acknowledgments.  Both would contribute greatly to his financial success and still provide him with a substantial and regular income. His career and his finances were well established.


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