He comes across as something of a basket case when he plays screen weirdos such as Edward Scissorhands and transvestite moviemaker Ed Wood. But Hollywood star Johnny Depp showed nothing but normal emotion when he broke up with British supermodel Kate Moss last year.
At first he wished he had the courage to pick up a phone and persuade Kate, now 24, to be part of his life again. But the moment was lost. Instead, he stayed at home and cried for a week because he allowed the gorgeous catwalk siren to slip through his hands.
“I have never got that emotional over a woman before,” he confided. “I have been so stupid because we had so much going for our relationship. I’m the one who has to take responsibility for what happened—I was difficult to get on with, I let my work get in the way and I didn’t give her the attention I should have done.
“The whole thing was crazy because I should never have got so worked up over what people had to say about my work. Sure I should care about my movies, but when I get home I should try to leave that stuff behind. I couldn’t do that and I was horrific to live with. Trust me, I’m a total moron at times.”
Johnny still can’t accept the fierce criticism which greeted his directorial debut in the drama The Brave which he wrote and co-starred in with Marlon Brando. His anger spilled over into his private life with Kate and he insists: “I will never let that happen again. I think you could say I truly discovered the meaning of loneliness.”
Worse still for Johnny was having to face up to the fact that he was not going to be able to start a family with Kate.Towards the end of their relationship his thoughts had turned to fatherhood.Although he had been labeled a spoiled Hollywood brat because of his often outrageous behaviour in public, he was ready for parental responsibility.
“I know it’s scary, taking up that responsibility,” he says leaning back in a chair, rolling yet another cigarette, a short-sleeved shirt revealing tattoos on his upper arms. “I thought the time was right. The time had come. I was wrong. Now I’m scared of not finding the right woman, of not being in a position to look after my kids, of never being able to leave them my stuff.”
The 34-year old actor, who was born in Kentucky but grew up in Florida, says: “You leave so much of your childhood behind you. In my case, everything went in the garage and we moved on. That was my life in there, in those few boxes and bags. I want to pass on more than that.
“I have to get out there now and find the right candidate to be the mother of my children. I am coming up to 35 and you get broody. Why shouldn’t a guy get broody? Some people imagine that because of the movies I make or just the way they perceive me to be, that I wouldn’t make a great father. They don’t know me at all.”
Johnny’s huge legion of girl fans were dismayed last week when he turned up in the south of France at the Cannes Film Festival with Kate on his arm. But they can rest easy. The boy movie wonder who shot to fame in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands playing a mechanical humanoid with razor-sharp fingers, says their passionate romance is definitely a thing of the past.
“I can’t turn the clock back,” he says, gazing across the blue waters of the Cote d’Azur coastline. “I haven’t found the right girl yet. Kate wanted to be with me to see my new movie, but we are not together anymore. There isn’t anybody special right now.”
Johnny, who was briefly married when he was 20 to makeup artist Lori Allison, was the youngest of four children whose poor bickering parents moved from one apartment and town to another. He made few friends and considered himself to be an outsider as a teenager, with only his music to keep him company. Today he lives in a $3 million mansion in the Hollywood Hills and is swamped by $10 million movie offers.
Amazingly, he has turned down opportunities which would have made him one of the wealthiest players in Tinseltown. He was offered Speed ahead of Keanu Reeves and was first choice for Interview with the Vampire before Tom Cruise said he would sell his soul for the role.
His career, however, is littered with award nominations. Critics raved over his portrayal of an undercover agent tracking the mob in Donnie Brasco and his hilarious transformation playing a Fifties pop idol in Cry-Baby. Many believe he acted Leonardo DiCaprio off screen in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
But his latest wacky adventure, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, has come under fire following the European premiere of the movie in Cannes (it is due to be released in the UK later this year.) Critics dismissed the story—based on a wild drugs spree conducted by the Seventies American writer Hunter S. Thompson and a friend—as “dire” and “boring.” Others accused the £20 million film, directed by former Monty Python star Terry Gilliam, of glorifying drugs by trying to get laughs from the antics of two dope fiends high on a dangerous mix of ether and stimulants.
Johnny spent three months living with Thompson in the basement of this home near Aspen, Colorado.The actor is normally a heavy smoker, but he soon stopped lighting up when he discovered he had been sleeping only feet away from a keg of high explosives.
He shaved his head to turn himself into a Thompson lookalike: “I looked ridiculous, but it was important to get into his mind. He’s an incredible animal. Acaring, cutting, sharp Southern gentleman. You can see the wheel springing in his head. The danger of playing somebody like him was that he doesn’t leave you. That also made me hell to be with for a spell. It took me two months to shake him off. He would just ‘appear’ without warning.
“Sure I’ve dabbled in drugs myself, I took marijuana. Being a former altar boy, you are prone to experimentation. But doing what these guys were doing is like drinking 10 bottles of wine in a matter of minutes. There is no way that can be good for you.”
Johnny intends to put the latest blast of criticism behind him and film the supernatural thriller The Ninth Gate with Roman Polanski in France in July.
His hair has grown back and he is now sporting a Latin-style beard and moustache for his new film.
In his wallet remains a photo of Kate he took himself and is very much for his eyes only. But he says there is nothing grubby about the snapshot. “We didn't have that kind of a relationship,” he says. “What we had was so pure. But I guess I blew it. I allowed the critics to get to me. I let my last role get to me. Somewhere out there is a very lucky guy who is going to get Kate.”