Johnny Depp had a somber start to his 60th birthday – sharing an emotional tribute to late friend Jeff Beck just hours before he marked the personal milestone.
For a man who has earned a reputation for being one of Hollywood’s headiest party-goers, it marked a stark departure from his image of old – and suggested that the infamous actor may well finally be ready to reinvent himself after what has been an incredibly tumultuous and scandal-ridden few years.
On Thursday evening, Johnny – who turned 60 today – took to the stage with his band, marking the first time that he has publicly performed in weeks after he was forced to cancel a series of concerts because of an ankle fracture.
That he was able to get back on stage in front of an adoring crowd in the hours before his birthday should have been cause for much celebration for the star.
But instead, an unusually somber Johnny chose to use that moment in the spotlight not to revel in his own success, but rather to honor the successes of his very close friend Beck, who passed away at the age of 78 earlier this year after contracting bacterial meningitis.
Johnny Depp paid tribute to his late friend Jeff Beck while performing with his band on Thursday, hours before his 60th birthday
‘I should dedicate this song to one of all of our heroes, Mr. Jeff Beck.’ he told the audience. Beck died from a bacterial meningitis infection in January at age 78
Depp and Beck (seen in October 2022) met in 2016 and became good friends, bonding over their shared love of music and cars
Beck’s sudden passing was said to have ‘totally devastated’ the actor – particularly given that it came at a time when he was just starting to put his life back together after a years-long legal battle against his ex-wife Amber Heard, during which the most intimate and uncomfortable details about his life were laid bare to the world.
As Johnny and Amber slung accusations of abuse, violence, verbal assault, and drug use back at one another, the world watched on with both fascination and horror, unable to look away from the courtroom spectacle that was – many said – worthy of its own Hollywood adaptation.
In the end, Johnny emerged as the victor in the latest legal case between the two of the – and promptly embarked on what was christened by some as a ‘celebration tour’ with his dear friend Beck, who is understood to have provided him with much-needed support throughout that roller coaster period of his life.
But while the Amber v. Johnny trial – and the spectacular fallout from it – are perhaps the most infamous events to rock the actor’s life in recent years, they are by no means the only scandal he has had to deal with over the course of his life.
In fact, Johnny’s troubles began at an early age – having started taking drugs at to cope with his ‘absent’ father and abusive mother at just 11 years old – with his rise to fame even rooted in desperation rather than ambition, after he ran out of money.
As he marks – rather than celebrates – his 60th birthday, FEMAIL takes a look back at the wild ride that Johnny has endured, from his troubled childhood to his most recent scandals, as well as the chaotic journey he has taken in between.
Inside Johnny’s rise to fame: The Hollywood leading man originally dreamed of being a musician, and only began acting out of desperation after he ran out of money
Johnny was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, to parents John Christopher Depp Sr., an itinerant civil engineer, and Betty Sue Palmer, a waitress.
His family moved around quite a bit throughout his childhood, before they ultimately settled in Miramar, Florida.
While the star is best known for his impressive list of acting credits now, his initial dream was to be a musician.
While the star is best known for his impressive list of acting credits now, his initial dream was to be a musician
‘I was 12 when I discovered the guitar, and I don’t remember anything else for years afterwards,’ he told DailyMail.com in 2011.
‘I talked my mom into buying me a Decca electric guitar for $25, I stole a chord book from a store – I slipped it down my trousers – and then I locked myself in my room, played the guitar and didn’t come out for years. I don’t recall puberty or anything else. Just playing the guitar.’
He dropped out of school at age 16 after joining a band called The Kids, which was later renamed Six Gun Method.
His family moved around throughout his childhood before they settled in Florida
At age 20, he packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles with the group, after spending four years playing in clubs in around Florida.
After relocating to the West Coast, Johnny struck up a romance with a woman named Lori Anne Allison, who was the sister of one of his bandmates.
The two wed in 1983, and while the romance was short-lived, it was thanks to Lori that Johnny became the Hollywood heartthrob we all know and love today.
At the time, Lori was working as a celebrity make-up artist, and was hired to work on a movie that starred Nicolas Cage.
She introduced Nicolas to Johnny, who convinced him to try acting and helped set him up with agent. Said agent then landed him an audition for the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, and despite having no experience – he miraculously got the part.
According to the actor, he decided to give acting a go because he was running out of money and ‘needed to pay rent.’
He quickly went on to score leading roles in a slew of other movies including 21 Jump Street (pictured), Cry-Baby and Edward Scissorhands – to name just a few
The hit slasher film premiered in 1984, when Johnny was only 21 years old, and it was a huge success.
He quickly went on to score leading roles in a slew of other movies including 21 Jump Street, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Don Juan DeMarco, Donnie Brasco, The Astronaut’s Wife, The Ninth Gate, The Legend of Sleepy Hallow, Blow, From Hell, to name a few.
Arguably his biggest role came in 2003, when he starred as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, and after that, he was cemented as one of the top actors in Hollywood.
Johnny’s ‘darker’ side: The actor started using drugs at age 11 to cope with his ‘absent’ father and abusive mother, which only got worse after he was propelled into the spotlight
By the mid-2000s, there was no denying that Johnny was one of most known faces in the world – but he later admitted to struggling with the immense fame that came upon him at such a fast pace.
‘If the choice is to be gawked at constantly or to sit in a dark room, I’d choose the dark room,’ he once said.
‘I felt as if I had been turned into a novelty, and it was mortifying. When I was in a social situation, I was nervous and uncomfortable. The only way I could get through it was to drink my guts out. I wasted a lot of years.’
The actor struggled with substance abuse long before he was even shot to stardom. He explained to Rolling Stone in 2018 that his problems actually began during his childhood.
Johnny (pictured with mother Betty Sue Wells, father John Depp and then-girlfriend Vanessa Paradis) previously recalled his father being ‘absent’ most of the time and facing ‘irrational beatings’ at the hands of his mother
He recalled his father being ‘absent’ most of the time and facing ‘irrational beatings’ at the hands of his mother.
‘Maybe it’s an ashtray coming your way. Maybe you’re gonna get clunked with the phone,’ he recalled to the publication.
‘My mom was maybe the meanest human being I have ever met in my life. And I worshiped her.’
He said he started using drugs when he was 11 years old, when he secretly took some of his mom’s ‘nerve pills’ without her knowledge.
‘My mother used to ask me to go and get her “nerve pills” and I think I was around the age of 11 that it dawned on me that “nerve pills” were calming her nerves, so I brought her her nerve pills and I took one, and that began [my drug use],’ he said in 2020, during his libel trial against Amber.
The star described using drugs and alcohol as ‘the only way to numb his pain.’ And by the time he was 14, he admitted that he had tried ‘every kind of drug known to man.’
As his career soared throughout the 1990s, his problems only worsened – and he soon earned a fierce reputation as an avid partier.
As his career soared throughout the 1990s, his problems only worsened – and he soon earned a fierce reputation as an avid partier
Pictures of him leaving nightclubs looking bleary eyed were plastered all over the media.
In 1994, the movie star was arrested for criminal mischief after he allegedly trashed his hotel room at the Mark Hotel in New York City. The charge was ultimately dismissed and he paid the hotel $9,767 for the incident.
He later referred to those years as his ‘darker period,’ telling Rolling Stone, ‘I spent years poisoning myself. I was very, very good at it.
‘But finally I was faced with a critical decision: Do I want to continue to be a dumba** or do I want to not be a dumba**? It was best to stop. Now I look back and say, “Why? Why did I do that?”‘
His rollercoaster ride relationships: Johnny credited love with helping him turn over a new leaf – going from ardent womanizer to dedicated family man after welcoming two kids with Vanessa Paradis
All the while, Johnny was also becoming known as an ardent womanizer. After splitting from his first wife Lori in 1985, he soon embarked on a series of failed romances.
He had brief engagements to actresses Jennifer Grey and Sherilyn Fenn, he had a controversial relationship with his Edward Scissorhands co-star Winona Ryder (she was only 17 when they started dating, while he was 26), and he was also linked to model Kate Moss.
But everything seemed to change after he met French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis.
The two started dating in 1998, and they welcomed a daughter, named Lily-Rose Depp, together one year after that. Their son, Jack Depp, was then born in 2002.
Johnny, who was also becoming known as an ardent womanizer, was at one point linked to model Kate Moss
Johnny later told ABC that becoming a father was a major turning point for him.
‘[My kids became the] real foundation, a real strong place to stand in life, in work, in everything,’ he gushed
‘You cannot plan the kind of deep love that results in children. Fatherhood was not a conscious decision. It was part of the wonderful ride I was on. It was destiny. All the math finally worked.’
Johnny soon transformed his image from a bad boy to one of a devoted family man. But in June 2012, the couple announced that they had ‘amicably separated’ after 14 years together.
Soon after his split from Vanessa, Johnny was linked to Amber – whom he had met on set of The Rum Diary in 2009.
They started dating in 2012, and tied the knot in February 2015. But they were only married for one year before Amber filed for divorce in May 2016 – but their tumultuous romance would continue to haunt Johnny for years to come.
The sensational defamation trial that captured the nation: The Pirates of the Caribbean star sued his ex-wife Amber Heard after she accused him of domestic abuse
In 2018, Amber wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in which she accused her ex of domestic abuse – the essay that sparked the now-infamous $100 million defamation trial that captured the nation last year.
The Aquaman star alleged that Johnny slapped her three times in 2013. She also claimed he once attacked her in a cocaine and alcohol-fueled tirade over accusations that she cheated on him with James Franco.
In February 2019, Johnny sued Amber for defamation over the article, and she then countersued in August 2020.
The former couple’s trial kicked off in Virginia in April 2022, and for nearly two months, they battled it out in court as millions watched on.
Johnny was forced to battle his ex-wife Amber Heard over savage abuse claims and a defamation case that he won
The Aquaman star (pictured in court) alleged that Johnny had slapped her three times during their relationship in 2013
During the trial, attorneys for Amber argued that she told the truth in her piece, and that her opinion was protected as free speech under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
Johnny alleged that Amber was the one who became violent when their relationship soured. He claimed that they had frequent arguments that included ‘demeaning name calling’ and ‘bullying’ by her.
‘It seemed like pure hatred for me,’ he told the jury. ‘If I stayed to argue, eventually, I was sure it was going to escalate into violence, and oftentimes it did.’
‘It could begin with a slap. It could begin with a shove. It could begin with throwing a TV remote at my head. It could be throwing a glass of wine in my face,’ he added.
‘She has a need for conflict. She has a need for violence. It erupts out of nowhere.’
Heard also claimed that Johnny (pictured together previously) once attacked her in a cocaine and alcohol-fueled tirade over accusations that she cheated on him with James Franco
He also claimed that the actress threw a bottle of vodka at him during an argument which ensued after he asked her to sign a prenup in 2015, and resulted in his middle finger being cut off.
In the end, the jury ruled in favor of the Pirates of the Caribbean star, and Amber was ordered to pay her ex $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, although the second payment was reduced to $350,000 per Virginia law by the judge.
She was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages out of the $100 million she was seeking in her countersuit against Johnny.
What he’s been up to since the trial: Johnny has been living a low-key lifestyle as of late, and while he recently returned to the big screen, he has insisted that he’s not making a ‘comeback’ to acting
Johnny recently made his return to acting in the French movie Jeanne du Barry, which he filmed in Paris shortly after the sensational trial came to an end.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last month, and when the actor attended a screening for it, he received a seven-minute standing ovation which resulted in him becoming overwhelmed with emotion.
However, when asked if it marked his ‘comeback’ to acting during a press conference that same week, he admitted that he didn’t ‘feel much further need for Hollywood.’
‘I keep wondering about the word “comeback,” because I didn’t go anywhere. I live about 45 minutes away from here, in fact,’ he added.
Johnny recently made his return to acting in the French movie Jeanne du Barry, which he filmed in Paris shortly after the sensational trial came to an end
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last month, and when the actor attended a screening for it
‘Maybe people stopped calling out [due to] whatever their fear was at the time, but I didn’t go nowhere. I’ve been sitting around.
‘”Comeback” is almost like I’m going to come out and do a tap dance – dance my best and hope you approve. That’s the notion. It’s a bizarre mystery.’
In 2018, amid the allegations from Amber, Johnny was dropped from a series of projects. He was ousted from the Dark Universe franchise and was forced to resign from the Fantastic Beasts films at the request of the production company Warner Bros.
Arguably his biggest loss was when Disney axed him from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, stating at the time that it wanted to bring a ‘new energy’ to the franchise.
Disney Studios Motion Picture president Sean Bailey recently revealed that the company has plans to add to the film series, leaving many to wonder if Johnny would return as the beloved Captain Jack Sparrow now that the trial was over.
However, sources told DailyMail.com that the 60-year-old has no interest in returning to the role.
The star has certainly lived a much-more low-key lifestyle as of late. Before he headed to Cannes to promote the new French film, he was only seen when he would participate in sporadic performances with his band, Hollywood Vampires.
When he’s not working, it’s been said that he spends his time holed up in his nineteenth century mansion – which sits on a sprawling 850-acre estate – in Somerset, England.
‘I just love places with character. British people are cool and will greet you as if you are a neighbor – without going over the top,’ he gushed of the area to Somerset Life magazine in March.
‘I like going to places, seeing things, and meeting people – but I’m not the great extrovert that people think.
‘In truth, I’m quite a shy person. That’s one of the great things about Britain, and especially Somerset. I can just be me — and that’s nice.
‘I can go into shops without being surrounded by people wanting selfies. I don’t mind that up to a point, but sometimes it gets a little too crowded.’