Thursday 19 September 2019

Pop Life: I've finally recovered from my teenage crush on Johnny Depp


Depp’s allure had already been depleted in recent years. AP photo
Depp’s allure had already been depleted in recent years. AP photo
Leslie Ann Horgan

Leslie Ann Horgan

With the distractions of illicit Strictly snogging and today's second division royal wedding, it may have escaped your notice this week that Johnny Depp got dumped.

There was a time not so long ago that the words 'Johnny Depp' would have made me shiver with excitement rather than shudder with revulsion. As a child of the 1980s, I was indoctrinated into the cult of Depp worship - those eyes, that soul, he speaks French! - from the get-go. While I may have been too young to fully understand the lusty longings that his portrayals of the brooding leather jacket-clad officer Tom Hanson, the soulful leather jacket-clad Cry-Baby or the innocent leather suit-clad Edward Scissorhands aroused in my older friends, I accepted it as fact that Johnny Depp was the most beautiful man on the planet.

By the time I was old enough to have lusty longings of my own, it was the 21 Jump Street star's off-screen antics that were making headlines. He opened A-list playground The Viper Room. He had his tattoo changed to 'wino forever' when his engagement to Winona Ryder ended, then took up with Kate Moss.

There was wild partying and the trashing of hotel rooms. There was the reading of Jack Kerouac and playing of rock 'n' roll. Pretty face plus bad boy edge, divided by hidden angst, multiplied by inner artist, equals an attraction that would see me through the next 20 years and whatever make-up Tim Burton threw at him.

This week, however, I dumped Johnny Depp.

True, his allure had already been depleted in recent years. Bad movie choices, the bloated/gaunt fluctuations and those god-awful perfume ads (What was he burying in that desert, his cool? His charm? His career?) had all chipped away at Depp's appeal.

Then came his toxic divorce from Amber Heard after just 15 months of marriage amid allegations of domestic violence on his part. In an attempt to put forward his own "truth" about the events surrounding the divorce - and the subsequent lawsuits taken against his former business manager over financial irregularities - he has given a tell-all interview in the November issue of GQ.

The rights and wrongs of what happened between Depp and Heard (the pair have now settled out of court, though in the interview he denies her allegation that he hit her with an iPhone) is the stuff of another column, but reading the article I was more struck by how 55-year-old Depp presented himself.

The magazine visited the actor at the small village/private compound he owns in France. In photographs, we see rebel Johnny behind the bar uncorking a bottle and proffering beers, artist Johnny playing the piano, thinker Johnny lighting gothic-style candles and gazing dreamily into space, outlaw Johnny staring confrontationally into the camera. The journalist describes how Depp blasts death metal from within the church that he's converted into a clothes-strewn bedroom. He opens the conversation with jokes about body parts and sex acts. He boasts about "going rogue" on the set of Pirates of The Caribbean, tearing up the scripts and generally sticking it to the Disney man. He threatens to eat the nose - "chew it up and swallow it in front of you" -of any paparazzi he gets his hands on. He rolls cigarettes then lets them hang, unlit, from his mouth as he talks. He laments the fact that oil paints "stink up" the bus when he's touring with his band, so he's limited to watercolours. He quotes Dylan Thomas and Ernest Hemingway. He reveals he's writing a memoir. He says everything he does is for his kids.

Where once I would have swooned at all of this, now I scoffed. It's all so contrived and so juvenile… and even a little bit sad. In Depp's head he's the artist, the bohemian, the libertine, the misunderstood man. In my head, he's the boyfriend I wanted in my 20s and the husband I'm glad I'm not saddled with in my 30s.

At my age, a heart-throb is someone who can pay half the mortgage, take out the bins, and make me the odd cup of tea unbidden. I don't care if a man can paint or speak French as long as he can catch spiders and get along with my friends.

Good god, I'm officially middle-aged. But so are you Johnny - now grow up.

Irish Independent

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