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Johnny Depp's Paradis Lost: The epic 'love-at-first-back' story that started in a hotel lobby and ended in friendship

Rumors of their breakup started swirling in 2011 when Depp arrived stag at the Golden Globes that January
UPDATED APR 15, 2020
Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp (Getty Images)
Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp (Getty Images)

Many celebrity couples believe they will make it through the thick and thins of life and stay together forever, but often, that is not the case. Johnny Depp's relationship with former girlfriend and French singer, Vanessa Paradis was something along those lines.

The two of them first met in 1994 while he was romantically linked to Kate Moss. However, the sparks started only after their second meeting in 1998, when they had an encounter in the lobby of the Hotel Costes in Paris. The 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' actor has since admitted in a number of interviews following the magical moment that it was love at first sight of Paradis' "back."

“She was wearing a dress with an exposed back and I saw that back and that neck, and then she turned around and I saw those eyes, and — boom! My life as a single man was done,” Depp explained to Daily Mail. "Whammo, man, across the room, amazing, incredible, awesome. The Back, the Back,” he told Rolling Stone.

A year after their encounter, the couple welcomed their daughter, Lily-Rose Depp and three years later they had a son, John Christopher Depp III. However, despite making several appearances over the next few years, the couple decided to not get married. Depp even joked about their decision to not tie the knot in a 2010 interview with Vogue

"Marriage is really from soul to soul, heart to heart. You don't need somebody to say, okay you're married," the actor said. "If Vanessa wanted to get hitched, why not? But the thing is, I'd be so scared of ruining her last name. She's got such a good last name."

Actor Johnny Depp and singer Vanessa Paradis arrive at the 80th Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 24, 2008, in Hollywood, California (Getty Images)

In the same year, Paradis opened up about how distance makes the heart grow fonder. "The fact that we’re not together every day plays a big part in keeping our relationship stable,” she told Marie Claire UK. “We understand that, if we want our relationship to continue, we must give each other space, allow each other to go off on our own, and trust each other. Not everyone is lucky enough to be given space and trust. You’re really lucky if you find someone you can trust when you spend time apart.”

However, rumors of their breakup started swirling in 2011 when Depp arrived stag at the Golden Globes that January. The couple formally announced that they had “amicably separated" in June 2012. 

Paradis later opened up about her split in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar."Nothing is ever for sure, but when something in love doesn't work from the beginning, it's never going to work. Don't push it. Sometimes you could be in an unhappy relationship; you are very much in love with someone, but it's making you unhappy and you think things can change and you can work it out," she said.  

In 2013, Depp revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone that maintaining their relationship over a long distance became increasingly difficult as years went by. 

“Relationships are very difficult. Especially in the racket that I’m in because you’re con­stantly away or they’re away and so it’s hard. It wasn’t easy on her. It wasn’t easy on me. It wasn’t easy on the kids. So, yeah. The trajectory of that relationship – you play it out until it goes, one thing leads to another. So for whatever reason that ceases, it doesn’t stop the fact that you care for that person, and they’re the moth­er of your kids, and you’ll always know each other, and you’re always gonna be in each other’s lives because of those kids. You might as well make the best of it," he said. 

Actor Johnny Depp, mother Betty Sue Palmer (left) and girlfriend Vanessa Paradis attend the 76th Annual Academy Awards on February 29, 2004, at the Kodak Theater, in Hollywood, California (Getty Images)

Heather Rassel, the ex-wife of Depp's nephew, Billy Rassel, said back in 2015 that Depp and Paradis' breakup might have had something to do with the fact that she did not get along with his mother, Betty Sue Palmer, and that Depp chose his mum over his former girlfriend a number of times. 

“I don’t like Vanessa. I’m sorry but she was a total b***h. It’s what ended their relationship. I think her family took advantage of Johnny, too,” she claimed, Independent reported. “His mum Betty would never complain to Johnny about Vanessa or to her face. She was always polite, nice and cordial to her but to us she was a lot more honest.”

Since their breakup, Depp and Paradis have been on friendly terms for the sake of their children. She even defended her ex in 2016, after his former wife, Amber Heard, accused him of domestic abuse. 

“Johnny Depp is the father of my two children. He is a sensitive, loving and loved person, and 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," she wrote in a letter.

In the summer of 2018, Paradis wed French writer Samuel Benchetrit. She prefers to keep her personal life private as she has limited social media presence. Last month, as the world was forced into social distancing in the midst of a pandemic, Paradis composed a song dedicated to the medical staff who are working tirelessly to treat patients infected with the coronavirus. 

“Good afternoon, we have a little song for you, for all the hospital staff who takes care of us and our without ceasing. We think strongly in you and I thank you wholeheartedly,” she said in a video posted on Benchetrit's Instagram page.