Rolling Stone has published a new profile of Johnny Depp by Stephen Rodrick, and it is damning.
The profile, which focuses on Depp’s financial troubles and his lawsuit against his former business manager, depicts the actor as a fading has-been who can’t quite accept that his star power is on the wane. Depp’s much-vaunted cool becomes pathetic in this story, and the man himself appears as a lonely, deluded figure enamored of his own dull thoughts.
“So are you here to hear the truth?” Depp asks as the profile opens. “It’s full of betrayal.” Then he rolls a joint and drinks some wine.
“This goes on,” Rodrick writes, “for 72 hours.”
The profile only briefly discusses the biggest issue currently facing Depp’s public image; namely, the fact that there is convincing evidence on the public record that he beat his ex-wife Amber Heard. (There are pictures of Heard’s bruises and of rooms trashed after one of Depp’s alleged outbursts, videos of Depp screaming at Heard, text messages that document years of abuse, and corroborating testimony from witnesses.)
Heard enters the profile very late, and the story of Depp’s alleged abuse takes up only five paragraphs of the 10,000-word story, ostensibly because Depp is legally prohibited by a nondisclosure agreement from discussing their relationship. It’s a reasonable choice, but it has the slightly disconcerting effect of making it appear that Depp’s biggest problem is that he is broke and suing his old business manager.
But what Rodrick does focus on is in its own way deeply damaging to Depp’s brand. What he suggests is that Depp is trying to pull off a younger man’s persona and that he is no longer cool enough to make it work — that one of Hollywood’s most famous bad boys is now just sad.
Here are the most striking details from the profile, which is well worth reading in full.
Johnny Depp thinks he is funny
Early in the profile, Depp attempts to prove his transgressive bona fides by lauding a racist joke Don Rickles made in the ’70s (to Sugar Ray Robinson: “Sugar, we would ask you to talk, but you know the blacks, your lips lock”), describing it as “ballsy.”
Then he talks about the time he made a joke that was cut from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies because it just went too hard for Disney, man.
“I say ‘Dirty Sanchez,’ ” says Depp, using slang for an obscene sex act. “Before the DVD, they dropped it out.”
Depp, Rodrick writes brutally, “considers himself a funny man.”
Depp spent $7,000 on Kim Kardashian’s used furniture
Johnny Depp has a teenage daughter who would have been at a formative age when Keeping Up With the Kardashians premiered in 2007, which might explain why Depp bought her a couch from the Keeping Up With the Kardashians set. That does not explain why he paid $7,000 for it.
Depp suggests that spraying narcotics over the Middle East would have led to the speedier capture of Osama bin Laden
Let’s just go right to the quote for this one:
Depp is evangelical in the uses of narcotics and thinks they could have expedited the capture of Osama bin Laden.
”You get a bunch of fucking planes, big fucking planes that spray shit, and you drop LSD 25,” he says. “You saturate the fucking place. Every single thing will walk out of their cave smiling, happy.”
Depp’s lawyer has ties to the Trump-Russia scandal
Rodrick writes that Depp’s closest confidant appears to be his lawyer Adam Waldman, who Rodrick says has “a soothing voice that could make the bird-flu epidemic sound reasonable” and who boasts that he is married to the “world’s number-one face doctor.”
Waldman appeals to Depp, Rodrick suggests, because he makes Depp’s current state of embattlement sound righteous and heroic rather than pathetic: “Waldman seems to have convinced Depp that they are freedom fighters taking on the Hollywood machine,” Rodrick writes, “rather than scavengers squabbling over the scraps of a fortune squandered.”
Waldman is also the lawyer for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, to whom former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was deeply in debt, leading Manafort to offer to use his work on the Trump campaign to “get whole” with Deripaska. Trump himself accused Waldman of having attempted to broker a meeting between Christopher Steele (author of the infamous “pee tape” dossier) and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.
According to Rodrick, it was Waldman who encouraged Depp to file suit against his former business managers, and it was Waldman who approached Rolling Stone about writing a Johnny Depp profile — without involving Depp’s publicist.
Johnny Depp’s bad-boy image has curdled into creepiness
What’s most damning in Rodrick’s profile is the collection of atmospheric details that make it clear that Depp is old now, with his “boyish insouciance” now the trappings of “an aging man-child.” And in that context, the eccentricities that made Depp Hollywood’s most intriguingly sexy bad boy in the ’90s just come off as creepy these days.
Take this eerie funhouse mirror of a passage:
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. In my sleep-deprived haze, I think I might be about to be “disappeared.” Then, a door opens and a giant man wearing a surgical mask appears. I shout in fear.
”What the fuck?”
”That’s just one of my security guys. He’s got the flu. He’ll make sure you get out safely,” he says and gives me a half-hug.
”We’ll talk injustice tomorrow.”
On its face, that detail doesn’t necessarily suggest anything bad about Depp — celebrities do live in big houses, after all, and they do have security guards, and if the guard is wearing a mask because of his flu, that’s just responsible hygiene.
But it’s one of a series of details that makes the profile feel unsettling, as though spending time with Depp means entering a world of instability, a place that’s unsafe in a sad way, not a sexy way.
And what’s saddest of all is how empty it is. Writes Rodrick towards the end of the piece:
I want to go home, but feel reluctant to leave. One of the most famous actors in the world is now smoking dope with a writer and his lawyer while his cook makes dinner and his bodyguards watch television. There is no one around him who isn’t getting paid.
You can read Rodrick’s full profile of Johnny Depp at Rolling Stone.