Fame and celebrity

Johnny Depp talks drugs, spending US$5 million on a rocket for ashes, and how he gave his bank robber roommate scabies

In a wacky interview about his multimillion-dollar lawsuit, the film star says he spent more than US$30,000 a month on wine, that he’s sorry Quaaludes went out of style, and that he would’ve used LSD on Osama bin Laden

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 12:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 12:35pm

Johnny Depp gave an interview to Rolling Stone and it’s every bit as bonkers as you might expect.

In the story, reporter Stephen Roderick said it had taken 200 emails to get in a room with Depp, who brought him to his London home and indicated he was ready to “bare his soul about his empty bank accounts”.

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The veteran actor, 55, star of hits such as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, is locked in a legal battle with his former business managers over his dwindling fortune. Last year, he sued The Management Group (TMG) for US$25 million, alleging the company mismanaged almost HK$400 million through fees he didn’t agree to, incurring late fees via delinquent income tax filings, and making loans to themselves and members of his entourage that he didn’t approve.

TMG promptly countersued him, saying he frittered away his own money on extravagances and ignored their warnings that he couldn’t afford to keep spending at that pace.

If his intention for the interview (arranged by Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman, an American consultant with ties to Vladimir Putin) was to counteract the notion that he’s out of touch with reality or knock down the reports of his outlandish spending – including US$30,000 a month on wine, 14 pieces of real estate, an US$18 million yacht and 45 luxury cars – it’s not clear he succeeded. He may have actually made his situation worse.

And because this is Depp, a follower of Hunter S. Thompson, there was some drug talk, too. Read for yourself. Here are a few of the most notable revelations from the story.

Depp had no idea he was behind on his taxes

“I just had no clue,” the actor told Roderick, who observed the tax discussion was “one of the few moments when he looked genuinely worried” about his financial situation.

He accused TMG of paying his taxes late for 13 consecutive years, thereby incurring US$6 million in late fees.

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Depp continued, “If you’re knowingly not paying the United States government taxes, somebody is gonna f***ing catch up with you and hand you a bill, and you’ll probably go to the pokey.”

Miriam Fisher, a tax attorney brought in by the actor’s business managers to navigate a way out of the tax problems, sided with Depp on this issue. She told the magazine, “TMG had a lot of options, and they chose the worse one: make the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) your creditor.”

His accountants actually lowballed some of his most extravagant expenses

“It’s insulting to say that I spent US$30,000 on wine,” says Depp of one of the more wasteful expenditures noted in the TMG lawsuit. “Because it was far more.”

I gave everyone scabies. You know how hard it is to tell your roommates that?
Johnny Depp

The same goes for the rocket he used to launch the ashes of his idol, Hunter S. Thompson, into the sky exactly one foot higher than the Statue of Liberty. “By the way, it was not US$3 million to shoot Hunter into the f***ing sky,” he noted. “It was US$5 million.”

He’s sorry Quaaludes went out of style

Depp expressed remorse that the prescription sedative isn’t as available for recreational use as it was once. (The drug was taken off the market in 1985, but remained popular until the 1990s, and was allegedly used by Bill Cosby to subdue accuser Andrea Constand in the incident that led to his conviction.)

Why was he such a fan?

“They’re made with just a little bit of arsenic, or strychnine so the high was far more immediate,” he told the magazine, adding that when you took Quaaludes, “you either wanted to smile and just be happy with your pals, or f**k, or fight.”

He would have used LSD instead of the United States Navy Seals on Osama bin Laden

“You get a bunch of f***ing planes, big f***ing planes that spray s**t, and you drop LSD 25,” he says. “You saturate the f***ing place. Every single thing will walk out of their cave smiling, happy.”

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He once roomed with a bank robber and gave his roommates scabies

Depp recalled coming home from a cheap hotel to the flophouse he shared with roommates during his early days in LA. Within hours he said, everyone was scratching themselves furiously. After shaving his body, he found the culprit: mites.

“I gave everyone scabies,” Depp said. “You know how hard it is to tell your roommates that?”

On the upside, he noted, “My roommate couldn’t say much. He was a bank robber.”