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JOHNNY DEPP- Smokin' Hot by Kaya Morgan

Mysterious and somewhat elusive, Johnny Depp simply exudes a Dean Martin kind o' cool.  Yet, for one of People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive," it's been a bizarre and bumpy road.  Once the perennial rebel, he tried his hand as a rock star, only to see the band split.  He moved into serious acting, only to have his credibility destroyed by accidentally becoming a teen pin-up.  Then, defying his idol-status, he threw himself into the cinematic underground and slowly, slowly proved himself to be one of the most adventurous and genuinely bohemian actors of his generation.

Born John Christopher Depp II on June 9th, 1963, in Owensboro, Kentucky — the self-styled "barbecue capital of the world."   John Senior was a city engineer, while mother, Betty Sue, a waitress and homemaker.  But he was the closest to his grandfather, known as Pawpaw.  Nicknamed Deppity Dawg as a child, he fondly recalls spending many happy days picking tobacco together.  It was a terrible shock for Johnny when only seven, Pawpaw died.  Equally traumatic, the family moved to Florida soon afterwards.

Times were tough initially, and the family spent long periods of time living in motels, constantly shifting from place to place until John Senior finally secured work as director of public works at Miramar.  His older siblings, sisters Debbie and Christie (who became his personal manager), and brother Danny (known as DP, now a screenwriter) tried to shield Johnny from some of the hardships but he eventually went off the rails with cutting school, suspended for mooning a teacher, smoking, drinking, vandalism and general trouble at a very early age. 

Always close to his mother, life was shattered again when his parents were divorced — even today he still carries a tatoo with her name on his arm.  The troubled adolescent quickly became a surly teenager until he received a guitar from his mother and, like millions before him, retired to his room and taught himself to play.  A competent garage-rocker, he opted out of high school at age 16, joining a variety of groups until he eventually found himself earning $25 a night playing the Florida nightclub circuit.  Things were good but about to get better.  When the band changed their name to Kids, they took off, supporting such luminaries as Talking Heads, B-52's and Iggy Pop — who sometimes referred to him as the "little turd".

The band headed for Los Angeles renaming themselves The Rock City Angels, but competition in L.A. was fierce and gigs were sparse.  Johnny's then wife, Lori Anne Allison, a make-up artist, introduced him to actor Nicholas Cage, who saw star quality in the young Depp, turning him onto his own agent — and the upward spiral began. 

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) was Depp's film debut, immediately followed by Private Resort (1985), and after graduation from acting classes at LA's Loft Studio, Platoon (1986).  Slow Burn (1986) was his only brush with the small screen until he was persuaded that same year to take on a short-term Canadian-filmed teen-targeted television series, 21 Jump Street.  Depp initially refused the role, but eventually accepted it, remaining on the show for three years.  At 23, the handsome star became an instant hit — posted on the wall of every teenage girl and teen magazine cover, much to his dismay. 

Looking to make his way back to the big screen, he snagged a part and drew praise for his performances in Donnie Brasco alongside Al Pacino, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and his almost silent tour-de-force, Edward Scissorhands.  He's done well in romantic roles, playing Don Juan DeMarco alongside Marlon Brando in the film of the same name, and opposite Juliette Binoche in Chocolat.  One of those film chameleons who can transform into anyone he wants, he's been a joyous transvestite director in Ed Wood, a boisterous rabble-rouser in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a sleazy CIA agent in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and a swashbuckling pirate in Disney's smash hit series Pirates of the Caribbean.

Ultimately, Johnny's complications and contradictions — both on screen and off — are the source of his allure.  Having had his share of tabloid smears, he's been arrested for trashing a posh New York hotel room, had an alleged assault with a plank of wood on the paparazzi, and once admitted to People magazine that he regularly cuts his own arms to mark important events in his life.  Yet, at the same time, he can be quite sweet and mannerly, oozing charm.   He could dress like a dustman and still be smoulderingly handsome.  And, he has had a wide variety of leading ladies in his personal life, having had more ex-fiancées than most men have had girlfriends, including Sherilyn Fenn, Jennifer Grey, Winona Ryder and Kate Moss. 

At a dinner party in Paris in 1994, Depp met French actress and singer, Vanessa Paradis.  Then, in 1998, while preparing for his role in Roman Polanski's Ninth Gate, they saw each other again in a restaurant, their eyes locked from across the room and — just like in the movies — kismet!  Now with daughter Lily-Rose and son Jack in tow, they bounce between a medieval-style house in L.A. and a second home on the French Riviera.  The doting father recently told the French press that the birth of his children has given him everything.  "A reason to live.  A reason to learn, to breath, a reason to care."  The only reason Depp is ever away from home is in order to fulfill his film contracts.  The fact that he is seriously attached, and now a devoted father has not seemed to deter the legions of adoring female fans including his own peers.

Despite the oddball, wacky characters he usually portrays, this multi-award winning actor has chosen his projects with care for artistic merit, zigzagging between the mainstream and the fringes.  Somehow, he has arrived at a happy place in his life without selling out, without becoming slick or packaged or politically correct.   Red hot, and one of Hollywood's most talented and sought-after actors — just about every movie maker in the business wants to work with Johnny Depp. Who can blame them?

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