Johnny Depp began smoking at 12, drinking alcohol and using drugs soon after

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Actor Johnny Depp has had a rough few years, with an ongoing lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, a career that appears to be on disintegrating, and public opinion of him uncertain. But the actor has never shied away from speaking about his demons. On his 57th birthday, here’s Depp at his most candid, talking about his struggles with alcohol and drugs over the years.

Depp said in an interview, according to People, that he began smoking at the age of 12 and soon began drinking and using drugs. In 1997, he told Vanity Fair, “Oh, man, yeah. Johnny was unhappy then … It was a pretty dark time for me. I don’t know what was going on. Well, I was poisoning myself beyond belief. I’d eat that glass, man. There was a lot of liquor. A lot of liquor. I was pretty unhealthy.”

“I never wanted to be the guy people looked at,” Depp told The Boston Globe in 2008. “I felt I could only be myself when I was alone, that I turned into some kind of novelty. The only way I could get through that time was to drink.”

“I spent years poisoning myself,” he told Rolling Stone in 2005. “I was very, very good at it. But finally I was faced with a critical decision: Do I want to continue to be a dumba** or do I want to not be a dumba**? It was best to stop. Now I look back and say, ‘Why? Why did I do that?’ ”

He did, however, admit that he never drank for fun. “I never had that. It was never about recreation. Not. Ever. That was never my motivation,” he said.

In 2004, Depp told Playboy that although he abused alcohol, “I was never a cokehead or anything like that,” according to The Chicago Tribune. “I always despised that drug. I thought it was a waste of time, pointless. But I was poisoning myself with alcohol and medicating myself. I was trying not to feel things, and that’s ridiculous.”

The actor in recent years has been affected by lawsuits and repeated box office underperformance of his films, leading many to believe that the star, once one of the highest-paid actors in the world, isn’t as popular as he once was. He admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that he was ‘overpaid’ for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, for which he is reported to have made over $300 million. But the tide may soon turn in his favour, as recent reports suggest that the actor might appear in the new Pirates movie, after a period of uncertainty when Disney was trying to distance itself from him.

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