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November 22, 2005   Articles No Comments

In the opening frame of The Libertine, Johnny Depp, all delicious cheekbones and tousled hair as the sexual omnivore the Earl of Rochester, begins by challenging his audience. “You will not like me.” But of course you do. – By Chrissy Illey, Evening Standard

We meet in a sterile hotel room in Beverly Hills. Depp is wearing a scraggy T-shirt and jeans, spiky hair and hornrimmed glasses – but still looks absolutely gorgeous.

“I definitely had a phase in my life when Rochester and I would have spent the night together,” says Depp. “He is a character I know in a lot of ways. “I recognised something that I had gone through. I quit drinking spirits because I wouldn’t stop. I would just keep going until a black screen came down where you can’t see anything any more and you don’t know if you’re around.”

Depp quit drinking, thinking it was “wasting time”, and in the same period he stopped doing drugs. “Trying to numb and medicate myself was never about recreation. It was existing without living …
“I would have made a dangerous mistake of trying to live it. Not necessarily going out and shagging everything that had a pulse, but drinking, and I would never have got through it. Ten years later, I have a solid foundation to stand on.”

Then, of course, there was the raging, destructive, on-off relationship with Kate Moss. He regularly trashed hotel rooms (when he wasn’t strewing them with flowers for Moss) before he left the model to settle down with the French singer Vanessa Paradis, who changed his life.

“I don’t think I was good for Kate.” said Depp. I’d read that he had taken an interest in her troubles, invited Pete Doherty out for lunch and warned him to “… lay off the drugs. Be nice to Kate.”

He reels back into the sofa. “Oy, oy, oy … Jesus. That never happened. I’ve never met him. I like him in that I like his music very much. I think he has a great talent and it seems to me that he and Kate could be great together because she’s a great girl. She’s got a great brain on her and I think she’s a good mummy.”

He is shocked at her treatment by newspapers. “Dragging her through the mud like that. “[Kate’s] growing up,” he adds. “We all are. Let her be. But I never took Pete Doherty aside and I never sent her a mirror, as has been written.

“They said I sent a mirror to the place where she was getting straight because it is supposed to be an old Indian custom: look in the mirror and find your own strength to abstain. But I would never have thought a mirror would be the right thing to send her. I feel so bad for her.”

He has not spoken to her directly. But his message to her? “Fuck ’em. They [the press] are trying to crucify her, and all that’s gonna do is give her more power. She should take that and run with it. Ultimately I know she’s very strong and very smart. She’ll be fine.”

After the split with Moss, he fell in love almost at first sight with French singer and Moss lookalike Vanessa Paradis, who quickly became pregnant with Lily Rose, now six, then Jack, now three. Fatherhood revolutionised Depp. “I helped give our daughter life, and she gave me life.”

He is a die-hard romantic and believes that Vanessa is The One. He’s fiercely loyal to her. “It’s amazing to be parents together, that’s the truth.” It is perhaps because of this fierce loyalty that he has never been in touch with Moss.

Depp and Paradis moved to France to bring up their children because he said LA was too violent. Has he become disenchanted after the recent riots and curfews that spread out from Paris? “It’s insane that setting cars on fire is the new strike. It takes a lot away. I’m sure it’ll clear up to a certain degree, but now we are based back in LA because I have work here. I went there [to France] to live because it seemed so simple. Now it’s anything but. I don’t know how they’ll recover from this.”

Perhaps he’d like to move to London, I venture. “I love London. There’s no shortage of comedy programmes – Johnny Vegas – restaurants and newspapers.” Are you still a fan of the Mirabelle? “Oh yes, where I got arrested” [in 1999 Depp was held in a police cell for four hours after he chased a photographer outside the restaurant with a piece of wood]. “I’m not sure they want me back, but they do have a terrific wine list and I do like a good claret.”

“You know the incident at the Mirabelle was because they [the paparazzi] wanted to get a photograph of Vanessa and me and her tummy. She was about to burst and I thought, I am not going to allow fatherhood to commence as a novelty. I was already protective of my kiddies.”

I ask him if he wants more children. “Oh yes. I’m pretty good at it,” he says twinkling.

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