How Johnny Depp Went From A-List to Persona Non Grata

2020 capped years of self-created misery for Depp
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2020 8:31 AM CST
How Johnny Depp Went From A-List to Persona Non Grata
A file photo of Johnny Depp during a photocall for his film "Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane Macgoman"   (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos, FILE)

After years of ongoing scandals, the once-brilliant career of Johnny Depp appears to have lost its luster. Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter has taken an in-depth look at how the actor managed to go from $50 million per picture to "radioactive" persona non grata. She dates the start of his downfall to 2016, when now ex-wife Amber Heard lobbed allegations of abuse at Depp. The actor's bad press has since coincided with his own questionable decisions, including a string of scorched-earth lawsuits that culminated in last month's loss in his "wife beater" libel case against a UK tabloid. Highlights:

  • Key line from Siegel: She writes, "There are few examples of a movie-star implosion of Depp's magnitude that have been so sudden and spectacular."
  • Persona non grata: "He has suffered immense reputational carnage from a reckless set of choices that has left him in septic muck," crisis PR rep Eric Schiffer told THR.

  • Pay cut: For Depp's most recent release, the low-budget Minamata, he was paid $3 million—mere pennies for a man who made $55 million from 2010's Alice in Wonderland.
  • Drug use: In addition to violence, Depp's tabloid trial included allegations of cocaine, alcohol, Xanax, Adderall, Roxicodone, magic mushrooms and ecstasy use. One specific claim: that while shooting Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales he popped eight ecstasy pills at once.
  • Fired: Depp was asked to resign from the big budget Fantastic Beasts franchise after his UK trial loss and is reportedly no longer involved with a Harry Houdini TV project. Jerry Bruckheimer is producing the latter, and it appears the longtime Depp supporter has cooled to the actor as well.
  • Problems building for decades: Siegel writes that sources attribute much of Depp's current state to "Hollywood's sycophant culture in which his wild spending and substance abuse were rarely challenged." One producer said simply that Depp has managed to go 35 years without being told "no."
(Read the full piece, which includes his shocking text messages about Heard.)

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