Born John Christopher Depp in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 9, 1963, Johnny Depp was raised in Florida. He dropped out of school at age 15 in the hopes of becoming a rock musician. He fronted a series of garage bands including The Kids, which once opened for Iggy Pop. Depp got into acting after a visit to Los Angeles, California, with his former wife, Lori Anne Allison (Lori A. Depp), who introduced him to actor Nicolas Cage. He made his film debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). In 1987 he shot to stardom when he replaced Jeff Yagher in the role of undercover cop Tommy Hanson in the popular TV series "21 Jump Street" (1987).
In 1990, after numerous roles in teen-oriented films, his first of a handful of great collaborations with director Tim Burton came about when Depp played the title role in Edward Scissorhands (1990). Following the film's success, Depp carved a niche for himself as a serious, somewhat dark, idiosyncratic performer, consistently selecting roles that surprised critics and audiences alike. He continued to gain critical acclaim and increasing popularity by appearing in many features before re-joining with Burton in the lead role of Ed Wood (1994). In 1997 he played an undercover FBI agent in the fact-based film Donnie Brasco (1997), opposite Al Pacino; in 1998 he appeared in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), directed by Terry Gilliam; and then, in 1999, he appeared in the sci-fi/horror film The Astronaut's Wife (1999). The same year he teamed up again with Burton in Sleepy Hollow (1999), brilliantly portraying Ichabod Crane.
A visit to Los Angeles, California, with his wife, however, happened to be a blessing in disguise, when he met up with actor Nicolas Cage, who advised him to turn to acting, which culminated in Depp's film debut in the low-budget horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), where he played a teenager who falls prey to dream-stalking demon Freddy Krueger. Three years later, Depp achieved fame as police cop Tom Hanson in the series "21 Jump Street" (1987) (1987-90), and in 1990, he was firmly established as a leading Hollywood actor with the Tim Burton movie Edward Scissorhands (1990), where he played a sad-faced, tragic hero who has scissors for hands.
Depp has played many characters in his career, including another fact-based one, Insp. Fred Abberline in From Hell (2001). He stole the show from screen greats such as Antonio Banderas in the finale to Robert Rodriguez's "mariachi" trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003). In that same year he starred in the marvelous family blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), playing a character that only the likes of Depp could pull off: the charming, conniving and roguish Capt. Jack Sparrow. Now Depp is collaborating again with Burton in a screen adaptation of Roald Dahl's novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).
From then on, Depp was selective of his choice of roles in movies, and he more often than not played dark, sinister characters on-screen. He played an undercover FBI agent in Donnie Brasco (1997), in which he co-starred with Al Pacino; a druggie in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998); and in two more Tim Burton ventures, Ed Wood (1994) and Sleepy Hollow (1999), with Christina Ricci and Casper Van Dien. He filmed a fifth Tim Burton film, Corpse Bride (2005), as well as being committed for another Tim Burton production, where he plays Willy Wonka in the upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), based on the classic children's novel by Roald Dahl.
"The Great Actor"
Johnny Depp is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood, who has recuperated his image greatly since his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in the acclaimed Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), with a supporting cast of Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, and Geoffrey Rush.