In defense of Johnny Depp: How the brilliant thespian fell from the zenith of his career to be controversy's favorite child
"Me, I'm dishonest, and you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest. Honestly, it's the honest ones you have to watch out for."
Agreed, these are the thoughts of Captain Jack Sparrow, who of course is a fictional character, and yet, for me, the best way to describe the Hollywood genius that is Johnny Depp is through the skin of his disingenuous and refreshingly candid character.
There are two sides to Depp - the steampunk star, with his penchant for flamboyant hairstyles, Lenon glasses, and chunks of leather bracelets, and who has courted controversy more often than not in his personal life. The other, the more acclaimed and sometimes better-admired face of this personality is on-screen, through the multitude of characters that he has brought to life in the biggest hits of his life.
Whether it's with Edward Scissorhands, Gilbert Grape, the Mad Hatter, Sweeney Todd, Willy Wonka, Wade Walker, or the rum-drinking Captain Sparrow; the thrice Oscar-nominated actor has lent a part of his persona each time he took on a new role. Almost in a Machiavellian fashion, the actor-producer has elevated his performance with a touch of his own charisma and quirk.
And this goes without saying that his eccentric style transpires into his real life as well. On many an occasion, the Kentucky-born actor has successfully rendered a room-full of people completely dumbfounded with his continuously changing accent, his views on making babies (during the Los Angeles premiere of Alice Through the Looking Glass), the bizarre dog video with his ex-wife Amber Heard, and his thoughts on his chameleon-istic portrayals.
During an appearance on The Today show, the actor had once said, "The last thing I want to look like is myself. I've always felt that it was important to escape. I always figured that if I just did the same thing over and over, I'd not only bore the audience but I'd bore the audience."
TBH, Depp has exhibited every little characteristic that is oft-associated with an exuberant personality, that separates a star from the crowd of performers and something that etches him in the heart of his fans, permanently. And yet, the defining part of his personality has evolved, over the recent past, to reflect a darker and disappointing Depp - the one who constantly battles scandals, whether it's over his recent divorce from Heard or his financial woes despite allegedly earning more than $650 million during a 13-year period.
Where it all began...
While his clandestine love life is no secret to the tabloids, Depp earned a particularly bad reputation after his high-profile split from his ex, 31-year-old American actress Heard. At the time, his personal life was splashed across the flashy headlines of gossip reports while his estranged partner continued to level explosive accusations against the actor, alleging him of being abusive throughout the course of the relationship.
During one point of the grueling court sessions, Heard was even spotted with bruises around her eyes - pictures of which made for fabulous online fodder. And the restraining order that the Justice League actress filed, helped little to save whatever was left of Depp's reputation.
All in all, the couple's short-lived marriage, which lasted roughly for 15 months following their lavish island ceremony in 2015, made for quite a spectacle; and without taking either party's side considering the charges weren't proven in court, it's safe to say that Depp suffered the maximum blow. Whether he was guilty or not, is perhaps, a different topic for another conversation.
However, former partner and the mother of his children, Vanessa Paradis' defense of the actor does throw a new light on the fiasco, even forcing one to re-think the entire catalog of accusations leveled against him.
Branding the Pirates of the Caribbean actor as "a sensitive, loving and loved person", the French actress had rushed to his defense, saying, "I believe with all my heart that these recent allegations being made are outrageous. In all the years I have known Johnny, he has never been physically abusive with me and this looks nothing like the man I lived with for 14 wonderful years."
Incidentally, her thoughts appear to have been echoed by Depp's ex-wife, Lori Anne Allison as well; who reportedly claimed that the actor was never physical with her and even called him a "soft person".
Depp's daughter, budding model-cum-actress Lily-Rose Depp too joined in, supporting her father via a cryptic social media post. "My dad is the sweetest most loving person I know, he's been nothing but a wonderful father to my little brother and I, and everyone who knows him would say the same," the 18-year-old French-American model had shared, addressing the domestic violence case on Instagram.
None of this, indeed, makes the serious charges against the actor null and void, but they do present a perspective on Depp's behalf - something that we, as unbiased spectators, should strongly consider, given the current wave of expose. After all, in the aftermath of the expensive (read $7 million worth divorce settlement) legal battle, the actor is still being tried by the social justice warriors while latest reports acknowledge Heard for the charitable contribution paid off from her alimony.
“Her generosity will support the lifesaving treatments and cures that Children’s Hospital Los Angeles provides for critically ill children each year," CEO Paul Viviano of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, had said, thanking the actress.
In addition to the divorce, Depp's survived a financial crisis and harsh public reaction
It's not extraordinary for movie stars in Hollywood to splurge on wild indulging, but little did the world realize that Depp's apparently extravagant lifestyle is actually costing him more than just a hefty part of his paycheck.
Reports of his financial crisis surfaced sometime in May 2017, with media outlets claiming that the actor was involved in a contentious battle with his former business managers at The Management Group (TMG) over his $25 million fraud lawsuit.
“As a result of years of gross mismanagement and sometimes outright fraud, Mr. Depp lost tens of millions of dollars and has been forced to dispose of significant assets to pay for TMG’s self-dealing and gross misconduct," the actor's legal team stated in the lawsuit.
Soon, the actor was counter-sued by the firm, with a cross-complaint alleging that the Fantastic Beasts star lived an “ultra-extravagant lifestyle that often knowingly cost Depp in excess of $2 million per month to maintain, which he simply could not afford.”
Apparently, Depp was warned furiously about his overspending and was even advised to get a prenuptial agreement in order when he announced his plan to marry Heard. But with the overlapping timeline of his divorce drama and financial woes, it all fell upon him, to survive the terrible circumstances.
Perhaps, his Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No tales co-star, Orlando Bloom's viewpoint might explain, why the public trial of the actor (Hollywood Reporter ran a feature at the time called: 'A Star in Crisis and the Insane Story of His "Missing" Millions') was simply harsh.
"The man that I know and love is the man who’s here tonight, and he’s like on form and does everything the right way,” Bloom had said at the Los Angeles premiere of the film amid the turbulent times, adding, "You know, people go through all kinds of weird stuff in the world and it’s just a shame that it has to be dragged out in public. Because, God knows he’s been one of the most private and stand-up people I’ve ever met.”
He is a star in his own rights, and rightly so
How many actors can you think of, who made it big, broke the mould, and even paved the way for a flourishing and rich movie career right with their very first endeavor? Depp landed his first film role in 1984's Nightmare on Elm Street, and since then there has been no looking back for this star, known for portraying larger-than-life roles with finesse.
His stint in the horror flick secured the actor a place in the 80s television series, 21 Jump Street, a role that would eventually establish him as the dreamy icon with messy hair. In the following years, however, the actor continued with his streak of Hollywood hits, giving the world movies such as the darkly romantic Edward Scissorhands in 1990, the fantasy adventure called Sleepy Hallow in 1999, the entire catalog of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, Alice in Wonderland and so on.
In the span of his eventful movie career, Depp has been nominated in Best Actor category during the Oscars at least three times. And he has picked up at least one Golden Globe and one Screen Actors Guild Award for his leading roles in major projects.
Not for no reasons, is he referred to as the big-bucks star, regardless of a few misses here and there.
Depp's unique philosophy that unfailingly resonates with fans
Love him or hate him, it's simply difficult to ignore the actor. Often with his outlandish yet nonchalant stance, his explanations and views about life, his decades-long career, and the usual humdrum associated with it, Depp has been able to connect with his fans like no other star.
To describe the imperfections that substantially shaped his persona, in his own words, "We’re all damaged in our own way. Nobody’s perfect. I think we’re all somewhat screwy. Every single one of us."
Depp is not the one to mince his words or look at life through rose-tinted glasses, making his character full of intrigue and his flaws, extremely relatable.