Newly unearthed court documents show Johnny Depp was abandoned by his "mean" mom as a teen.
In 1981 court papers, which until now had been buried in court archives, between Betty Sue Depp and the actor's father John Depp — who divorced in 1978 when he was 15 — it is claimed her son was "emancipated and self-supporting".
But in interviews, the actor has painted a different picture. He began using drugs at 11, dropped out of high school aged 16 to become a musician and in 1980 began playing guitar in a band called The Kids, moving to Los Angeles and spending months living in a car. His first acting role came in 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street" after meeting Nicolas Cage.
The divorce document, signed in 1981, states, "The wife hereby acknowledges that the parties' minor child … John C. Depp II is fully emancipated and self-supporting."
The papers were uncovered by Hollywood fixer Paul Barresi in his research for the new Discovery+ series "Johnny Depp v Amber Heard." Barresi said, "He said since age 11, he's taken all manner of substances, including marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, prescription painkillers, opiates and magic mushrooms. His drug use, he said, was a way to escape family problems.
"He struggled to find gigs in a garage band and peddled ink pens working part-time as a telemarketer.
"Needless to say, at age 17, Johnny was hardly financially self-sufficient, and far from being emancipated. As far as I am concerned, his mother disowned him at a time when he unquestionably needed her most.
"There is no court record of him ever having been legally emancipated."
Depp told Rolling Stone in 2018 of his mother, who died in 2016, "My mom was born in a f—ing holler in eastern Kentucky … Her poor f—ing ass was on phenobarbital at 12."
He said his father, a civil engineer, was largely absent, and his mother raised him and his three siblings. But his childhood was unhappy.
"Yeah, there were irrational beatings," Depp said, "Maybe it's an ashtray coming your way. Maybe you're gonna get clunked with the phone.
"It was a ghost house — no one talked. I don't think there ever was a way I thought about people, especially women, other than 'I can fix them.'"
He recalled rubbing his mother's feet after she came home from double shifts at her waitressing job. And he bought her a small horse farm in Kentucky with one of his first big payouts from his acting work.
"Betty Sue, I worshipped her," Depp, now 58, concluded, but "she could be a real bitch on wheels."
He added he said at her 2016 funeral: "My mom was maybe the meanest human being I have ever met in my life."
Depp — who recently said Hollywood was "boycotting him" over his ongoing legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard — in August was granted the green light to press libel charges against Heard in the US despite a UK court ruling that he was a "wife-beater."
The libel case was brought by Depp over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she described being the victim of domestic violence, without naming him. The case is expected to be heard in court next year.
A rep for Depp did not comment.