Tragic Details About Johnny Depp

The following article contains references to drug and alcohol addiction, child abuse, attempted suicide, and domestic abuse allegations.

Johnny Depp has not had a clear trajectory in Hollywood. He moved to Los Angeles from Florida with his band, The Kids, in the hopes of becoming a successful musical group when the then-unknown Nicolas Cage suggested he pick up some acting jobs to help pay the bills. Obviously, acting became more lucrative than music. and Depp followed that bright star all the way to the top.

For his role in the 2010 film "Alice in Wonderland," Depp opted for less money upfront and a higher payout after based on the success of the movie. The Tim Burton hit was massive, bringing Depp a total of $55 million for the flick, per Celebrity Net Worth, with this counting among some of the biggest paydays a movie actor has received. At one point in his career, Depp had reportedly made $650 million dollars, but this fortune has since decreased to a total of $100 million dollars. While that's no chump change, it's certainly a marked drop (more on this below).

Depp was also named People's Sexiest Man Alive twice, once in 2003 and again in 2009, and once had relationships with an ongoing list of with A-list celebrities — lest we had any doubt about his desirability — dating Winona Ryder, Kate Moss, and of course, Vanessa Paradis, with whom he shares two children. But things took a different turn following his split from ex-wife Amber Heard, eventually resulting in a heated defamation lawsuit between the two in 2022. While Johnny Depp has certainly had his ups along the way, he's also had a lot of downs.

Johnny Depp's abusive childhood

Johnny Depp's love of music didn't start out happily. Instead, he gravitated towards it to escape his volatile home life. "When I was 12, and my parents were always fighting, I had hardly any contact with the outside world," Depp told Hello! magazine back in 1997. "As soon as I got my guitar, I locked myself in my room every day after school and did nothing but play until I fell asleep." His parents' tumultuous relationship ended in divorce and created a transient life for young Depp. "We moved over 30 times before I finally moved out for good," he said, explaining that this could be the reason for his peripatetic life as an adult: "It's my sense of being out of place in the world."

It wasn't just the lack of roots that made Depp's childhood so challenging, however. His mother, Betty Sue Palmer, was allegedly often emotionally and physically abusive towards her children. "She could become quite violent, and ... she was quite cruel," Depp later said in his 2022 defamation trial against Amber Heard, stating that his mom would do things like throw ashtrays at him and his siblings or strike them with a "high heeled shoe or a telephone or whatever was handy." 

With a lacking sense of "security or safety" being a constant throughout his childhood, Depp noted that his mother's lashing out was unpredictable. Saying that he and his siblings would flinch when she neared them, Depp added how she would also instruct his father to hit him with his belt — though his father was, by nature, a "kind" and reserved man, according to the actor.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

The actor's first divorce

While Johnny Depp was involved with his band, The Kids, he met makeup artist Lori Anne Allison, who was the sister of a bandmates. In 1983, when Depp was only 20, he and Allison married in Florida, per Us Weekly. In the hopes of hitting musical success, Depp, his band, and his new wife moved to Los Angeles, and it was on the West coast that Allison connected Depp to Nicolas Cage. During this serendipitous introduction, according to Rolling Stone, Cage suggested that Depp work on movies and TV shows to make extra cash. While the acting worked out, the marriage didn't, with the couple divorcing two years later.

Depp has frequently spoken about a sense of loneliness in his life, despite a full chronology of romantic relationships and friendships, and this sense of isolation may also have permeated his first marriage. "I've always felt an outsider," he admitted when he spoke with Hello! in 1997. "I feel lost so often that I wish I could just take off and not have to worry about the world." The actor added that he struggled in "relating to other people's way of living" and despite the success he found, it took a toll on relationships, too: "I suppose part of my problem is that I'll always have this image of myself as a 17-year-old geek working at a gas station."

Allison spoke up in 2016, following Amber Heard's accusations of abuse, to say that Depp had always been gentle and kind with her, according to TMZ. She referred to him as a "soft person."

His split from Winona Ryder left him devastated

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder's real-life meet-cute occurred at the "Great Balls of Fire!" premiere in 1989, per Us Weekly, and they went on to co-star in the classic "Edward Scissorhands" the following year. The pair were inseparable for four years, with Depp once saying in an interview (via the Mirror), "I love her so much. I don't know what I would do without her. I love that girl. I love her. I love her almost more than I love myself." Ryder also prompted Depp's famous "Winona Forever" tattoo that eventually morphed into "Wino Forever" following their 1993 breakup.

While they split because of public pressure and the fact that they simply grew apart, the breakup was devastating for both of them. Ryder told Elle in 2009 that she suffered an "extra-large breakdown" and called it her "first real break-up, the first heartbreak." She added, "Everybody else just thought I had everything in the world but inside I was completely lost."

For Depp, the experience was equally brutal. Director Tim Burton said that Depp would show up to set in tears. "I felt so bad," Burton once said, per the Mirror. "I asked him why it happened but all he said was, 'It wasn't her fault, it was mine.'" Later, when Depp began dating Kate Moss, Burton felt there was something off, explaining, "​​I felt weird to be around him like he wasn't acting like Johnny anymore. It's almost like Winona took Johnny's soul, Johnny's love."

Johnny Depp's mother attempted suicide

Johnny Depp's mother, Betty Sue Palmer, was not only abusive towards her children, but she was also allegedly antagonistic towards Depp's father, John Christopher Depp. While testifying in court in 2022, the actor described their relationship and claimed that his mother was aggressive towards his father, a "shy" man who never fought back. Instead, Johnny said that his dad always was gracious and well-mannered towards his mother.

Eventually, Depp's father packed his things and left when the future star was 15, telling his son that he was now the man of the house, and leaving Johnny with an unsettled feeling that he wasn't ready. His father's departure put Betty Sue into a depressive episode that resulted in a suicide attempt. Johnny said that he walked into their living room and saw his mother, who had overdosed on pills, attempting to walk and moving erratically. "Instantly, I knew that something was dreadfully wrong. ... As I was about to run and call [911], the front door busted open, and my uncle and two paramedics came in and threw her on the gurney and whisked her out of the house to get her to the hospital to pump her stomach."

His mother survived then, but died decades later in May 2016 following years of ailing health. Even though they had a tough relationship, her death was still hard on her famous son, who later said (via People), "She was a hellcat. She was mean, but she was funny."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

His unfortunate claims about his ancestry

Johnny Depp got embroiled in a case of cultural appropriation and inaccurate declarations about his heritage in 2011. "I guess I have some Native American somewhere down the line," he said to Inside Movies. "My great grandmother was quite a bit of Native American, she grew up Cherokee or maybe Creek Indian. Makes sense in terms of coming from Kentucky, which is rife with Cherokee and Creek."

The vague speculation generally did not go down well with Native American communities, with some people arguing that there was no substantive evidence of Depp having that heritage. Things became more uncomfortable when Depp was cast as Tonto, a Native American character in Disney's "The Lone Ranger." Actor Sonny Skyhawk spoke to Indian Country in 2013 and voiced his discomfort with the situation, especially with Disney. "American Indians in Film and Television's argument is not so much with Johnny Depp, a charlatan at his best, as it is with the machinations of Disney proper," he said, later adding: "Johnny Depp 'playing Indian' doesn't bother me as much as the efforts of a conglomerate force feeding the Indian community that he is 'Indian.'"

Things took another controversial turn in 2019, when Dior made Depp the feature face of their Sauvage fragrance campaign, where Depp was styled in a Native American setting. Dior removed the campaign, but not before critics on Twitter spoke up. "The absurdity of the Dior Sauvage Ad w/ Johnny Depp ... Supposedly anti-appropriation, but goes balls deep in appropriation," Indigenous Environmental Network organizer Dallas Goldtooth tweeted.

The movie star's finances are a mess

Over the span of his career, Johnny Depp made $650 million dollars, according to Variety, but that money is largely gone, leaving Depp with a net worth of $100 million dollars, as of this writing. While that's still a considerable amount of money, what happened to that sum of $550 million? Depp, apparently, would like to know the same.

The actor sued The Management Group in 2017, per CBS News, because they allegedly neglected to pay his taxes for 13 years but continued to charge him millions of dollars in fees. Depp settled the lawsuit in 2018 for an undisclosed amount. While the details of the case were confidential, Depp did disclose a great deal about his personal finances in an interview with Rolling Stone and quelled some rumors, only to share that he had spent in excess of what people had even imagined. Stories floated that Depp spent $30,000 a month on wine, and he said, "It's insulting to say that I spent $30,000 on wine. Because it was far more." Another story was circulating that he spent $3 million to shoot Hunter S. Thompson's ashes from a cannon. "By the way, it was not $3 million to shoot Hunter into the f***ing sky," Depp explained. "It was $5 million."

When he split from longtime girlfriend Vanessa Paradis, Depp gave her $150 million, according to the Hollywood Life. Then, when he got divorced from Amber Heard, he gave her $7 million in the settlement, per the Independent, so his separations cost a lot, too.

Johnny Depp's history of addiction

Johnny Depp has had an ongoing struggle with substance abuse that he's been surprisingly candid about. River Phoenix died of an overdose outside of Depp's Los Angeles club, the Viper Room, in 1993, and Depp later told Hello! in 1997 that the tragic death was a wakeup call. "Drinking and taking drugs and getting high is how we try to numb our emotions," Depp said. "You don't want to feel any pain ... you don't want to feel anything. I was painfully aware of what I was doing to myself and somehow didn't care." Depp went on to say it felt like he was throwing his life away.

While Depp tried to get back on track, his relationship with drugs and alcohol came up again throughout his life. His relationship with Vanessa Paradis helped him turn things around again. "I'm a dumb-a**, and I poisoned myself for years," Depp said in 2008 in an interview with Rolling Stone. "Now I understand things better."

However, his excessive substance use came up again in his relationship with Amber Heard, and it was a subject in his defamation trial against Heard in 2022. Depp's physician, Dr. David Kipper, spoke virtually to the courtroom and explained how Depp had been trying to get sober. "Mr. Depp was seeking treatment for substance abuse," Kipper said. Noting that Depp "wanted to detoxify from ... alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines, and stimulants," Kipper said that the star was anxious about detoxifying, but knew he needed to do it.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

His multiple run-ins with police

Johnny Depp has had run-ins with the law on and off since he became famous. In 1989, Vancouver police reported that Depp allegedly had a physical altercation with hotel security after guests complained about noise coming from a party in another room. He was booked on assault and mischief charges.

Then in 1994, when Depp was staying at the Mark Hotel in New York City with model girlfriend Kate Moss, he got enraged about a friend's betrayal and destroyed the room. He had to pay nearly $10,000 in damages, according to The New York Times. Police reports stated: "We opened the door and there was Depp sitting there, smoking a cigarette, cool and calm." Moss was with him, but she wasn't touched in the mayhem. "There was glass all over the place and furniture upside down and broken table legs," the report went on. Later, Depp reportedly joked about the arresting officer: "I don't think she likes me. But if she saw me at a mall, I bet she would ask me for an autograph."

Later, in 1999, Depp was arrested and spent four hours in custody, per BBC News, when he had an alleged physical altercation with paparazzi outside of Mirabelle restaurant in London. In response to having his photo taken, Depp reportedly used a piece of wood to intimidate the photographers. A police officer said, "They arrested a 35-year-old man for threatening behavior, and he was taken to West End Central police station." Basically, there have been no shortage of kerfuffles involving Depp and security and law.

Johnny Depp apologized after criticizing the United States

Johnny Depp got called out for his criticism of the United States while speaking with Stern, the German magazine, while Depp was splitting his time between France and Los Angeles with then-girlfriend Vanessa Paradis and their two children, Lily-Rose and Jack Depp.

"America is dumb, it's like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive," Johnny said back in 2003 (via People). "My daughter is four, my boy is one. I'd like them to see America as a toy, a broken toy. Investigate it a little, check it out, get this feeling and then get out," he added. Depp got a lot of pushback for the comments and said that he didn't mean to insult American people, according to The Guardian. "I said it's a very young country compared to old Europe, or Asia," he explained.

However, Depp got in trouble again when, at the Glastonbury Festival in 2017, he said to the crowd (via People): "When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?" The White House pushed back against Depp's comments. "President [Donald] Trump has condemned violence in all forms," they claimed in a statement, per CNN. Adding that it's "sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead," the statement continued, "I hope that some of Mr. Depp's colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if his comments were directed to a democrat elected official." Depp ended up apologizing for the remark, saying that he intended no harm.

His belief that Hollywood is boycotting him

After Amber Heard published an op-ed in The Washington Post claiming that she suffered physical and sexual abuse — which many presumed was at the hands of Johnny Depp, though she didn't mention him by name — The Sun then published an article calling Depp "a wife-beater." The allegations then led to Depp suing the news outlet for libel, later suing Heard for defamation, and her own countersuit, leading to multiple court cases and a global media frenzy.

Depp spoke to The Times following The Sun's publication and said that he felt cut off from Hollywood after those articles. "Whatever I've gone through, I've gone through," Depp said. "But ultimately, this particular arena of my life has been so absurd." The substance of these pieces also took a toll on Depp's popularity in Hollywood, and his involvement in future projects. Depp's film "Minamata" was pushed back by a year and didn't get released until February 2020, according to Deadline, and the star interpreted the delay as a sign that his projects were being rejected. He told The Times that it was "Hollywood's boycott." 

To add fuel to the fire, Depp was asked to resign by Warner Bros. from "Fantastic Beasts 3," news that Depp announced on Instagram. "I have respected and agreed to that request," he wrote in part, giving up the wizard character Gellert Grindelwald he had played in the two previous films. His role was filled by Mads Mikkelsen, according to Variety, but Depp was still paid the full $16 million that he was promised in his contract.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Johnny Depp's been plagued by a deep sense of isolation

While Johnny Depp has been a global sensation for decades, he's never felt like he was a part of any group. As far back as 1997, Depp admitted that he felt "more comfortable in front of the camera" than he did in real life, as he explained to Hello! magazine.

The feeling didn't dissipate with time, even as Depp grew in popularity. "I never wanted to be the guy people looked at," Depp said in 2008 to The Boston Globe. This ongoing sense of discomfort around others exacerbated his desire to seek out alcohol. "I felt I could only be myself when I was alone, that I turned into some kind of novelty. The only way I could get through that time was to drink," Depp said of both his propensity to withdrawal and his ongoing history with addiction. 

Again, in 2018, this theme was evident when Stephen Rodrick interviewed Depp for Rolling Stone, a couple years after Amber Heard first accused Depp of abuse. It was not lost on Rodrick that the only people around Depp at this period in his life were staff or, like himself, present in some career capacity. "One of the most famous actors in the world is now smoking dope with a writer and his lawyer while his cook makes dinner and his bodyguards watch television," Rodrick wrote. "There is no one around him who isn't getting paid." After years of high-profile relationships and Hollywood connections, there was a palpable pain in seeing Depp open up about feeling alone.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Inside Johnny Jepp's defamation lawsuits

Johnny Depp's once-stellar career took a sharp turn after ex-wife Amber Heard published her op-ed claiming that she was a domestic and sexual abuse survivor. While she didn't explicitly name Depp in the piece, it appeared evident that she was talking about him. After The Sun called him a "wife-beater," Depp sued the outlet, but he lost, with Judge Mr. Justice Nicol deciding that the article was "substantially true," according to BBC News.

Separately, Depp sued Heard, and she countersued, landing them in court in Virginia in 2022, where Depp denied any allegations of physical or sexual abuse. When asked what the consequences were of her allegations, Depp testified that he "lost nothing less than everything." Depp also shared in court about the changes in his relationship with Heard, and how painful it was to live through such a change in an intimate connection, where he had previously disclosed his most vulnerable self. Claiming that Heard would "verbally decimate" him or "send [him] into a ... tailspin of confusion and depression," Depp alleged that she constantly told him how wrong he was about things and called him names. To cope, Depp said that he removed himself from those situations, something he had practiced as a child when dealing with his own mother, adding, "Because there's only so much your ears can hear."

Apart from the alleged insight into his and Heard's ill-fated marriage, one of the most evident takeaways from the defamation case has appeared to be what a challenging childhood Depp had and his seemingly lonely adulthood, even as a superstar.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.