Johnny Depp will surely live to regret the narcissistic impulse which led him to ask a Rolling Stone magazine journalist to come and spend a few days with him.
The resulting 10 000-word profile, published on Thursday, was intended to counter a long article about his disastrous finances in the Hollywood Reporter magazine and to prove he is the victim of larcenous management.
Instead, it reads like a long suicide note to his career by a man now crippled by drink and drug abuse.
Depp, whose films have pulled in £2.7 billion globally and is said to have personally earned £489 million, is portrayed as drug-soaked and surrounded by yes-men.
The intention was to explain that he was the innocent victim of a management team who fleeced him. But a picture is painted of a movie hero in free fall, drinking vodka for breakfast, smoking joint after joint and filled with self-pity and rage.
Coming hot on the heels of his ugly divorce from actress Amber Heard, who accused him of beating her and then withdrew the allegations, his descent into a hell of his own making appears complete.
The article’s author, Stephen Rodrick, observes that Depp seems to be living in a “decent facsimile” of the last days of rock idol Elvis Presley.
Part of Depp’s appeal has always been that he was mad, bad and dangerous to know.
Until the horrors of his divorce, when it was revealed that, high on ecstasy, he had sliced off the tip of his finger and written in blood on the wall, there was little sense of the flip side of his rock ’* ’ roll lifestyle.
He is suing The Management Group (TMG), run by his ex-business manager Joel Mandel, and Mandel’s brother Robert, for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.
The amounts which are contested are jaw-dropping. The suit claims that Depp’s sister Christi was given $7m and his assistant Nathan Holmes, $750000, without his knowledge and that he has paid the American taxman, the IRS, more than $5.6m in late fees.
It also says TMG invested Depp’s money for its own purposes and returned it without profit. He is seeking more than $25m from TMG, plus any additional damages the court sees fit.
On the other side, the Mandels deny all wrongdoing and are counter-suing. They suggest Depp has a $2m-a-month compulsive spending disorder.
Depp is still living like a king. He spent Christmas at his villa in France, winter on his Bahamas estate and his property in Hollywood in spring.
The role of Christi, and how much power he gave her over his finances, looks likely to be a crucial one when the matter comes to trial in August.
Experts suggest that Depp’s legal fees in this complex matter will run into six figures. If he doesn’t win, it will be a hammer blow to his delicate bank balance.
Heard said that he brutalised her and left her in fear of her life. She filed for divorce in 2016 after 15 months of marriage. The couple married in February 2015.
She was later awarded $7m in the divorce settlement, which she donated to charity. After a dirty fight of four months, with numerous devastating leaks from her side, Heard put her name jointly to a statement which ran: “There was never an intent of physical or emotional harm.”
She accepted the visibly bruised face and split lip which were seen when she first attended court was just part of a “volatile” relationship. She agreed that it was an “intensely passionate relationship, always bound by love”. The case for a restraining order against Depp was dismissed with prejudice, meaning that she can never refile it.
Heard withdrew her claims that Depp was a wife-beater and he withdrew the suggestion that she was a gold-digger.
He has just finished filming the forthcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel in London, and is preparing to fight his management in court.
Another lawsuit is pending, this one was filed last month by two former bodyguards. They say Depp overworked and underpaid them over an “intolerable” two-year period. The lawsuit alleges that they had to wipe drugs from Depp’s face while in a nightclub to stop other people from seeing them, and that they had to babysit his children as he “spiralled” into a “financial hurricane”.
Professionally, he seems oblivious to the ruin which he has brought upon himself.
He says there is a French book, Happier Days, which he wants to make into a film and direct, about a man who loses his wife and checks into a care home while in his 40s.
The last word should go to Rodrick. He observes: “During my London visit, Depp is alternately hilarious, shy and incoherent. The days begin after dark and run until first light. There is a scared, haunted look about him.
“Despite grand talks about hitting the town, we never leave the house. As Depp’s mind leads us down various rabbit holes I often think of a line that he recited as the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland: ‘Have I gone mad?’”