Today Depp meets me in a suite at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood. His jeans are ripped, and his black shirt is open at the neck to reveal a GONZO necklace, a tribute to his late friend, Hunter S. Thompson. Depp looks around the tastefully appointed room. "They've really done this place up," he says. "I lived in the Chateau for a while, years ago, and it was dingy but great. It was like they bought the couches from the Ramada Inn that was closed down by the Health Department in 1970." Depp has come a long way from his childhood in Kentucky, the youngest of four children. His parents -- a waitress and a city engineer -- moved more than twenty times while he was young, settling in Miramar, Florida, when he was seven, and divorcing when he was fifteen. These days, Depp, 44, and his family (French singer-actress Vanessa Paradis and their two children, Lily-Rose, 8, and Jack, 5) split their time between Los Angeles and the South of France.
Conversation with the quick-witted Depp can careen from whether new popes get their genitals cupped to ensure the leader of the Catholic Church is sufficiently male ("I think an elderly man waddles up to you and reaches under your dress") to his out-of-control life before he met Paradis ("I'm a dumb-ass, and I poisoned myself for years. Now I understand things better").