He pauses for a second. It had taken a month and almost e-mails for the message to become clear: Come to London; Johnny Depp wants to bare his soul about his empty bank accounts. Almost all of it is gone. The Mandels categorically deny all wrongdoing and are countersuing, alleging that Depp breached his oral contract with the company. Over the past 18 months, there has been little but bad news for Depp.
He had split from his longtime lawyer and agent. And he was alone. His tabloid-scarred divorce from actress Heard is complete, but not before there were persuasive allegations of physical abuse that Depp vehemently denies. During my London visit, Depp is alternately hilarious, sly and incoherent. The days begin after dark and run until first light.
There is a scared, hunted look about him. Despite grand talks about hitting the town, we never leave the house. His closest confidant seems to be Waldman, a lawyer he met less than two years ago. Waldman, 49, possesses an unlined face, sandy hair, a designer black leather jacket and a soothing voice that could make the bird-flu epidemic sound reasonable.
Depp seems oblivious to any personal complicity in his current predicament. Waldman seems to have convinced Depp that they are freedom fighters taking on the Hollywood machine rather than scavengers squabbling over the scraps of a fortune squandered. One day, Depp shows me his artwork, and it strikes me that Depp is now a worn Dorian Gray.
Cruz ends our conversation by telling me about Depp trying to pull his own tooth at a London restaurant while having dinner with her and Stella McCartney. But time has passed. Boyish insouciance has slowly morphed into an aging man-child, still charismatic but only in glimpses.
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Depp goes quiet, perhaps realizing the sadness of what he has just said. He wipes his eyes. The two shared more in common than an addiction to nicotine. They both arrived in L.
Depp changed course after an L. He eventually starred in his breakout role as a high school narc on 21 Jump Street in We sit down for dinner, and I ask if he remembers the first big purchase he made when he started making money. He rolls another joint that he first passes to me and then to Waldman. Depp grew up the youngest of four, raised mostly by his mother, Betty Sue.
His father was a civil engineer, but largely absent. They lived first in Kentucky and then Florida, moving, according to Depp, more than 40 times. His mom hurled things, but she was still his mom. Mostly, Depp remembers his mother coming home from double shifts at her waitressing job; he would rub her feet as she counted out the coins from her tips. He bought her a small horse farm outside of Lexington, Kentucky, with one of his first big paydays.
After buying the house for his mom, Depp treated himself to a Harley-Davidson, which he still owns. From to , he made 32 movies, showing a once-in-a-generation range from Edward Scissorhands — beginning a lifelong collaboration with director Tim Burton — to an acclaimed portrayal of an undercover cop in Donnie Brasco.
Depp acquired a taste for the grandiose life along the way. He chafed against playing the standard, dashing Hollywood hero.
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An adviser yelled at him when he took the title role in Ed Wood. She never responded to requests for comment for this story. Depp says he immediately took a shine to Joel, the youngest child of an Auschwitz survivor. Depp saw a kindred spirit.
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He was broken. I try to probe deeper, but Depp is restless. The mansion is spookily quiet.
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When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? He moves to the couches in the living room and flips on the television. Depp has an affinity bordering on obsession with the bons vivants who had their late prime in the s, whether it is Marlon Brando, Hunter S. Thompson or Don Rickles. Sugar, we would ask you to talk, but you know the blacks, your lips lock. He considers himself a funny man and tells me how in one of the early Pirates of the Caribbean movies Sparrow washes ashore and mumbles an incoherent curse.
Depp has a great affinity for Sparrow, whose persona is borrowed from Keith Richards, another Depp idol. There is not a fucking soul that wants to see Captain Jack Sparrow sad. He flips through the news and comes across a report on Harvey Weinstein. He shakes his head and calls him an asshole for burying his film Dead Man because director Jim Jarmusch refused to give up his contractually mandated final cut.
Depp pauses, ruminating on whether he is being unkind. He mentions that once he tagged along as Weinstein was picking up his kid from school and that he could tell Weinstein really loved her. Outside, the London dark is giving way to a gloaming predawn.
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Everyone is exhausted except for Depp. Jet-lagged, I tell Depp I need to get some sleep. He looks disappointed but leads me down a dark corridor that twists and turns. I shout in fear. He pointed to what he perceived to be an anti-Depp story in the Hollywood Reporter, where the Mandels were cast as eminently reasonable men who repeatedly tried to warn Depp about his precarious financial positioning. Nobody from TMG was quoted, but Waldman was convinced its fingerprints were all over the story.
I started looking into the case and Waldman to see if he was legit. Meanwhile, Deripaska became a bit player in the Russian-collusion scandal when it was reported by The Washington Post that then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offered to give Deripaska private briefings on the campaign shortly before the GOP convention. Waldman had his own cameo in the Putin-Trump meshugas. In February, none other than Trump would accuse him in a typically factually distorted tweet — without naming him — of trying to broker a meeting between Trump-dossier writer Christopher Steele and Democratic Sen.
Mark Warner. Waldman joined the game in October , having been told by a client that Depp needed help. TMG had just slapped the foreclosure notice on his L.
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TMG had filed it as a nonjudicial foreclosure so there were no public filings. Waldman was about to change that.
Waldman and Depp quickly became compadres. Depp eventually filed a separate suit against Bloom. Depp and Waldman believe his lawsuit will change Hollywood forever. The same charge would be eventually levied against Bloom, who has filed a countersuit, denying all the claims. This alleged violation of Section of the California statute particularly jazzes Waldman and, in turn, Depp.
TMG denies this conversation ever happened. Waldman was on the phone from Europe, and Chew was on video conference from Washington. Mandel eventually spoke up. Asked what he thought about all the legal shenanigans, Depp shrugs. Unfortunately for Depp, TMG filed a thermo-nuclear complaint last summer. The lawsuit described the actor as a spoiled brat with no impulse control. TMG offered no specifics about the hush money and legal crises.
His taxes? The suit alleges that they were paid late because Depp was chronically cash poor. Then things got personal. According to the suit, Depp kept a sound engineer on the payroll so he could feed him lines through an earpiece while filming. This Depp does not deny, saying the sounds fed to him made him act with just his eyes. When asked why his mom needed security, Depp responded that it was in case she needed an ambulance, according to sources with intimate knowledge of the conversation. His mood is equal parts maudlin and swagger. Depp says they got the Hunter S. Thompson cannon story wrong too.
Depp elaborates. That part could be true, but I checked around about the price tag and Depp seemed to be bullshitting. When Depp bought an island in the Bahamas, it was Brando, owning his own Tahitian island, who advised him to make sure his house is above sea level.