PEOPLE, December 1, 2003 – The Sexiest Man Alive…Johnny Depp
Title: The Sexiest Man Alive…Johnny Depp
Author: Lisa Russell
Issue: December 1, 2003
There he was in Disneyland last summer, strolling through the park with his girlfriend and their two children. They were any family: the 4-year-old girl with her face buried in a cloud of cotton candy, the 20-month-old boy asleep in a stroller. But onlookers who caught a glimpse of the drop-dead features beneath the slouchy hat and dark glasses probably did a double take. The family guy was Johnny Depp, out introducing his kids to Pirates of the
Caribbean, the theme-park ride that inspired the year’s biggest nonanimated blockbuster and catapulted his art-house career into the bright, shiny mainstream. After spending a lifetime rebelling against the Man, Depp has been tamed, at 40, by the Mouse.
Say hello to the new Johnny Depp, this year’s Sexiest Man Alive. Once infamous for his brooding eccentricities, he has mellowed. Prior to parenthood, “I just wasted a whole bunch of time.” he declared recently. And because he arrived at his new happy place without selling out, without becoming slick or packaged or politically correct, he is a hero to his fans and an idol to his young costars. “Lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely” says Keira Knightley, his castmate in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. “He’s very cool. He’s a gorgeous guy. Eye candy.”
Settled in a medieval-style house in L.A. and a second home on the French Riviera with his girlfriend of five years, French actress and pop singer Vanessa Paradis, 30, and little Lily-Rose and Jack. Depp remains a man of contradictions. “He’s a real trash-food guy, he likes Big Macs—but he also knows a good bottle of wine,” says his longtime friend, director Jim Jarmusch, who adds that this A-list movie star “gravitates to outsiders and people that arc down-and-out.” And of course, Depp is famous for being the best-looking actor to hide under layers of hats and blankets in his private life and behind oddball characters in his films.
But he is finally coming to terms with his own charisma—the kind of rocket-force magnetism that once inspired someone to approach Columbia Pictures exec Amy Pascal and confess, “All I want to be is Johnny Depp’s pants.” Depp “is more comfortable about being a leading man,” says Lasse Hallstrom, who directed him in 1993’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and 2000’s Chocolat Pirates costar Orlando Bloom concurs: “You get the feeling Johnny has been through the sausage machine of Hollywood and come out the other side still standing.”
Hardly news to the many who have long considered the sloe-eyed iconoclast the hottest thing to never quite catch commercial fire. “He’s a little dangerous, he has a secret, he has great warmth—all those things you can see in his eyes,” says Hallstrom. “‘that’s the key to his appeal.”
“He’s always been a bit of a rebel and done whatever he wants to.