When I was a teenager Johnny Depp was my idol. From offbeat roles in Edward Scissorhands, Benny and Joon and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, his presence on screen was like catnip to me. He chose odd characters, he made films that reflected my youthful misfit identity, and he was drop-dead gorgeous—a winning combination.
I’ve plastered my walls and my school planner with pictures of Depp, and spent hours on internet forums gushing about his acting, grunge style, and hypnotic eyes. I had a life size poster of Captain Jack Sparrow in my bedroom. I created sparkling animated HTML banners with its many characters.
As Depp’s multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against his former wife, Amber Heard, continues in Virginia, I think back to my fangirl days. The elements that drew me to the actor when I was 13, 14 and 15 now feel tired and degraded, like a faded photograph left in the sun.
His reported excesses — the loss of his $650 million fortune, the tens of thousands of dollars he spends on wine a month, the private air travel, the 12 repositories of Hollywood memorabilia — now reek more of obscene licentiousness than a frontier — driving, rocking outsider. His image as a free-thinking rebel and nonconformist—choosing quirky independent film roles, refusing to fit the Hollywood mold and grappling with the police—has morphed over time into something that feels far darker and sadder .
Disturbing text messages from Depp have been reported as part of the ongoing lawsuit. His friend Isaac Baruch was asked by Heard’s attorney, “Remember that Mr. Depp ever told you that he was hoping for Amber Heard’s decomposing body to rot in the damn trunk of a Honda Civic?” Baruch replied, “Yes. Well, I’m saying yes – I see it here, so obviously yes was said. It was written”.
Teenage me saw a gentle, misunderstood soul – a tortured artist, someone unwilling to be a fabricated teen idol after the success of 21 Jump Street, which premiered in 1987.
Fifteen years out of my dork fangirl phase and no longer a blue-eyed youth, I choose to believe women who report abuse experiences. In 2020, Depp lost his defamation lawsuit in the UK when the High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that the majority of Amber Heard’s allegations had been proven civilly.
It feels like the version of Johnny Depp we knew in the 1990s and early 2000s no longer exists. Maybe my idealized, youthful view of him as an anti-establishment hero never really was. It’s been a long time since I was hooked on a Johnny Depp film. Even Tim Burton’s wacky 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland felt like well-trodden terrain for the actor, more typical than innovative.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has previously adored a now troubled star – it seems like all of our idols eventually fall shortlly, though some in more controversial and pernicious ways than others.
In Depp, I saw creativity, eccentricity, joyful madness – a celebration of being different. Thanks to its performance in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I devoured the writings of Hunter S. Thompson and discovered the illustrations by Ralph Steadman. After seeing The free spirit, I was inspired to read the 17th-century poems of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester. Johnny Depp seemed to cast a certain spell on him – both on and off screen.
Now that magic feels good and really gone.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/i-was-johnny-depps-biggest-fan-as-a-teenager-but-id-never-admit-that-now-41556439.html I was Johnny Depp’s biggest fan as a teenager – but I would never admit that now