The Topsy-Turvy Years

After wrapping up “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, Johnny’s personal life took a sweeping downturn. Earlier, in 1989, he had met actress Winona Ryder, whom he had started dating in 1990, and gotten her name tattooed on his arm. Johnny and Winona had a turbulent relationship, made even more so by the press which continually cast them into the limelight. In 1993, they finally decided to call it quits. Johnny described it as an “amicable split” while the press reported “unavoidable personality conflicts.”

Soon after this, Johnny immersed himself in work, maybe hoping to ignore as much of his personal  life. He again teamed up with Tim Burton for their second collaboration, “Ed Wood”, a black and white biopic of the unsuccesful director. 
As quoted from Johnny “After ten minutes of hearing about this, I was commited.  At this period in his life, Johnny was depressed about nearly everything in his life, including films and filmmaking, and he claimed that this role was “an opportunity to stretch out and have some fun.” Although the film grossed rather badly in the box office (probably due to its limited release), it went on to recieve soaring praises and critical acclaim, being decribed as “an accurate portrait of an inaccurate man.”

In the midst of his tension, on both film-making and personal life, Johnny had a slice of solace, his nightclub, which he co-owned. He described it as “a place where all of us who loved similar music could just, you know, come and relax.” It was frequented by high profile characters, like Jen Aniston, Christina Applegate, Lisa Marie Presley and many others. However, in 1993, Johnny was playing at his club when they noticed River Phoenix, the teen idol, was behaving strangely. He was rushed outside, and collapsed outside, later learning he had died due to a drug overdose.

The media went frantic, describing his club as “A den of drugs, sex and death…”. Mourners made a shrine for River outside the club, and Johnny himself respectfully closed down the club for three days. However, he was angry. He had never sold drugs in his club, and he found himself arguing River’s squeaky clean image. Johnny closed down the club every year on River’s death anniversary.

However, Johnny’s own life was crashing down on him, slowly but surely. “I was depressed, I felt like there was nothing left for me to live for.” he was claimed as saying. In 1994, Johnny was arrested for trashing a hotel room suite in New York, and later, all he had to say about the incident was to blame an armadillo for wrecking the room. After the security guards asked him to evacuate, he refused, saying he paid for the room. They had no choice but to call the authorities. When asked about the event later, he was reported as saying “All I regret is that my mum had to see me being arrested…in those kind of clothes!”                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Of course, the media wouldn’t let this incident pass by them, instead choosing it to capitulate on Johnny’s “Hollywood bad-boy” image. Johnny in his handcuffs were splashed all over the media, and wildly exaggerated versions of the story were being passed around. Johnny was once again the unwilling centre of attraction. When another young musician destroyed hotel property, a few years later, he was widely known as “doing the Johnny Depp.”

Johnny chose to ignore the rumours and bury himself in his next project, “Nick of Time”, playing Gene Watson,  a mild, bespectacled man who has to assasinate a governor in order to save his daughter, who was held for ransom. This rather lacklustre thriller grossed about 8 million, which, although larger than the production costs, did not cause much impact. However, Depp would soon be the centre of the media’s attentions again, this time because of a certain waif-like model.

Johnny met Kate in 1994, soon after wrapping up Ed Wood. “At the time, both of us were thriving on cigarettes and not sleeping.”, Depp was reported to have said. Their relationship, like his with Winona, was highly publicized, since she was a high profile model, and he was “Hollywood’s Current It-Boy.”  Johnny had come to Kate’s defence many times, on her “anorexic” label, saying that she “ate as well as any man I know.”  Needless to say, Johnny despised the media at this time, as he would very well have more reason for in the future.

after the storm, comes the calm »

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