Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis were together for 14 years before their split in 2012.
The couple were one of the most low-key in Hollywood, despite Depp being at the top of his box office game during their relationship. That’s largely in part due to their living arrangements: Paradis and Depp spent a good deal of time in her native France, where they were able to exist without too much public scrutiny.
In a 2007 interview, Paradis explained how she and Depp protected their two children, daughter Lily-Rose and son Jack, from the difficulties of living in the spotlight. When asked where she prefers to live, she said: “For my children I secretly choose France. Even though Los Angeles is great too. We raise them bilingually anyway, so for them it doesn’t really matter. Only, in the South of France you can live much more anonymously. And that’s a bliss, especially when the children are still young.”
Though they were together for over a decade and started a family, Depp and Paradis never married. In 2007, Paradis said that having children was as big of a commitment as marriage, while Depp later told Extra, “I never found myself needing that piece of paper … Marriage is really from soul to soul, heart to heart. You don’t need somebody to say, ‘Okay, you’re married.’ “
From buying a private island together to co-parenting, here’s everything to know about Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis’ relationship.
Summer 1998: Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis first connect
Depp and Paradis first connected in 1998 while he was in France filming The Ninth Gate. “It was the Hôtel Costes,” he recalled to The Daily Mail. “She was wearing a dress with an exposed back and I saw that back and that neck, and then she turned around and I saw those eyes, and — boom! My life as a single man was done.”
Paradis later said she felt a connection immediately. ”We were in two different worlds — him in America, me in France — but we had friends in common,” she told Elle UK. “We saw each other sometimes over the course of four years. But then, the day we found each other in Paris, we were both in the same world and free and it was just instant. There was no more time to waste — just no way around it.”
May 27, 1999: Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis welcome their first baby
Less than a year after the first meeting, Paradis and Depp became parents. The couple welcomed daughter Lily-Rose Melody on May 27, 1999. Depp later told Vanity Fair that he played a Keith Richards piano cover of Hoagy Carmichael’s classic “The Nearness of You” while Paradis was giving birth.
“I played this one from a boombox when Lily-Rose was born,” he said. “This is her birth song. She arrived to this, man.”
2000: Vanessa Paradis says she loves Johnny Depp inside and out
Paradis couldn’t help but boast about Depp’s inner and outer beauty. “[He’s] even more gorgeous than you think,” the “Joe Le Taxi” singer told The Daily Mail. “On the inside, too. The outside is not something I want to forget about, but it is what is inside that matters.”
April 9, 2002: Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp welcome a son
Paradis and Depp welcomed their son, John Christopher “Jack” Depp III, on April 9, 2002, in France. After his birth, a rep for the couple told Reuters, “Mother and son are doing great.”
2004: Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis buy a private island
In 2004, Depp and Paradis purchased Little Hall’s Pond Cay, an island in the Bahamas, for a reported $3.6 million. Depp named beaches on the 45-acre property after Paradis, their children and pal Hunter S. Thompson. The island served as a refuge from the public eye.
“Somehow, the mathematics led me here to my island. I don’t think I’d ever seen any place so pure and beautiful,” Depp told Vanity Fair in 2009. “You can feel your pulse rate drop about 20 beats. It’s instant freedom. And that rare beast — simplicity — can be had. And a little morsel of anonymity.
He continued, “Whenever I was getting frustrated about being ‘novelty boy’ and making movies, I told myself, ‘Calm down.’ I can come down here and disappear. I spent the Christmas season here with Vanessa and the kids. You can feed hot dogs to the nurse sharks in the Exumas — but it’s best to not swim when doing it.”
October 2008: Vanessa Paradis insists she and Johnny Depp won’t get married
Paradis told Elle UK that she and Depp had no plans on tying the knot but that they were absolutely devoted to one another nonetheless.
“Each summer people say we’re supposed to be getting married, but we don’t talk about it that much,” she said. “He’s got me, and he knows he’s got me. I love the romance of ‘let’s get married,’ but then, when you have it so perfect … I mean, I’m more married than anybody can be — we have two kids. Maybe one day, but it’s something I can really do without.”
July 2010: Vanessa Paradis says “space” is key to her relationship with Johnny Depp
Though Paradis rarely spoke to the press and generally remained private during her and Depp’s relationship, she shared what she admired about him in a rare interview with Marie Claire UK.
“I could make an endless list of all the things I admire about him,” she said. “But above all, I admire his immense loyalty. I admire him as an actor, as a father and as the man he is for me. But more than anything, I admire him as a person.”
She added that being independent kept their relationship going strong. “The fact that we’re not together every day plays a big part in keeping our relationship stable,” she said. “We also have a lot of respect and admiration for one another. We understand that, if we want our relationship to continue, we must give each other space, allow each other to go off on our own, and trust each other. Not everyone is lucky enough to be given space and trust. You’re really lucky if you find someone you can trust when you spend time apart.”
February 10, 2010: Vanessa Paradis says she loves everything about Johnny Depp
Months after Depp was named PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive, Paradis told PEOPLE she loved Depp’s eclectic fashion sense — and more. “I love his style,” she said. “I love him, and I don’t have to say ‘I like this’ and ‘I don’t like that.’ When you love somebody, you take them as they are. I would not change him.”
She added, “I like him very much in all terms and every sense of the way. He makes me happy. We are many things — we are together and, in a way, one person.”
February 16, 2011: Johnny Depp gives Vanessa Paradis a standing ovation
In February 2011, Paradis performed at the music venue The Town Hall in New York City. Depp reportedly sat in the front row of the balcony with his eyes set on his partner for the two-hour show. The Pirates of the Caribbean star gave Paradis a standing ovation with the rest of the crowd when her set concluded, and they left the venue holding hands.
October 2011: Johnny Depp says family life with Vanessa Paradis is “not conventional“
In a 2011 interview with The Daily Mail, Depp said life with Paradis and their children was beautiful, if not what the rest of the world may consider normal. At the time, the family split their time between homes in L.A., two houses in France, a yacht in the Mediterranean and their private island in the Caribbean.
“I don’t know how it works, but it does all work beautifully,” he said. “Our family is not conventional — it’s sort of symmetrical and asymmetrical and poetic and funny. I see that the children are happy, healthy and seem to be on the right path in life. And then I look at Vanessa, who’s incredibly supportive, loving and talented in all sorts of ways. She and I have been together for nearly 14 years, and, well, I can hardly believe it. It only seems like yesterday that we met.”
January 18, 2012: Insiders say Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis are living separately
In early 2012, sources “in their circle” told PEOPLE that the pair were on the rocks and living separate lives. “It’s so sad,” one insider said. PEOPLE also reported that during the previous summer, the pair sailed on their family yacht with kids, but a local observer said Paradis and Depp “didn’t arrive to pick up the boat together. When it was over, they were off in separate directions.”
Another source close to the couple said, “My sense is that this is a couple which hasn’t existed for two years.”
Insiders said that things got tense after the Pirates franchise reignited Depp’s career. “They bet that they could move to California and be on long stays on film locations, for his career. They bet that things would continue there as they had in the south of France. They lost that bet,” a source told PEOPLE. “Vanessa went seven years between albums, and several years between film projects, while he became Captain Jack Sparrow.”
January 23, 2012: Vanessa Paradis attends a movie premiere without Johnny Depp
Fans speculated about a potential breakup when Paradis walked the red carpet solo for the premiere of her film Café de Flore — her first public appearance since PEOPLE reported that she and Depp were living separate lives. The press were reportedly told that no personal questions were allowed. “She had the air she always does – polite, smiling, saying hello to everyone inside,” one reporter said.
May 9, 2012: Johnny Depp denies breakup rumors while Vanessa Paradis avoids the subject
Depp shot down talk of a breakup at the London premiere of Dark Shadows. “The rumors are not true. They are absolutely not true,” he said. “No matter what I say about this, people believe the opposite. I can’t say enough about it not being over.”
In an interview with Stylist magazine, Paradis alluded to heartbreak, saying that she was afraid of the term soulmates. “It scares me a lot,” she said. “I believe in love, and I want to believe that it lasts forever. But I’m like everyone else, you have to take things a day at a time and you can never know what comes next. All you can do is hope and love and live.”
June 19, 2012: Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis announce their split
Paradis and Depp officially announced they had split in June 2012. Depp’s publicist told Entertainment Tonight that the couple “amicably separated” and requested privacy for the family.
“They’ve tried for months to save the relationship, but have known for weeks that it couldn’t be saved,” a source told PEOPLE. One week prior, Paradis arrived in France to promote her film Je Me Suis Fait Tout Petit. “It was all decided before she got on that plane,” the source added.
July 2012: Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp move on
Following their split, sources told PEOPLE that both Paradis and Depp seemed to be in good spirits. One fan who attended an autograph signing with Depp said he “seemed very happy,” while a source close to Paradis said that the singer was “totally relieved” and that there was not “a lot of sadness” over the breakup.
August 2012: Vanessa Paradis declines to discuss Johnny Depp
In an interview with Elle France, Paradis declined to speak specifically about Depp, though she did provide some insights into her mindset at that time.
“I don’t want to talk about him. Who said that artists should sell their soul, expose everything about themselves?” she said in her native French. “It’s my duty to promote this movie, and my albums, but imagine what it feels like to see people making a business out of your pain. What happened to us is our business.”
When asked about her upcoming 40th birthday, Paradis added some words of wisdom. “I am much happier today than I was at 20,” she said. “I don’t have the recipe for happiness, but the driving force, I think, is simply having the desire. It’s not feeling obliged or forced or repeating yourself … For example, I hate when you hear someone say, ‘Being a couple takes work.’ No, you have to want to be there. And for me, I want to be right where I am right now.”
June 18, 2013: Johnny Depp opens up about split from Vanessa Paradis
A year after announcing their breakup, Depp opened up about his split from Paradis in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“The last couple years have been a bit bumpy,” he said. “At times, certainly unpleasant, but that’s the nature of breakups, I guess, especially when there are kiddies involved.”
He added, “It doesn’t stop the fact that you care for that person, and they’re the mother of your kids. You’ll always know each other, and you’re always gonna be in each other’s lives because of those kids. You might as well make the best of it.”
Depp also said that focusing on their children helped him through the breakup. “They’ve been incredibly understanding, incredibly strong throughout the whole ordeal,” he continued. “And it’s hard on every side. You know, Vanessa’s side, certainly not easy. My side, not easy. The kids are the most complicated.”
July 1, 2013: Johnny Depp says honesty is key with his kids post-breakup
Speaking with CBS This Morning, Depp said that after he and Paradis broke up, he focused on honesty to help their children cope with the changes.
“When you have children, there is no room for lies, no room for anything but the truth. Anything other than that is a bad example, I believe,” he said. “We were just very truthful with them and they were just incredibly understanding, incredibly accepting. I was extremely proud of them, the way they dealt with it.”
May 27, 2016: Vanessa Paradis supports Johnny Depp after Amber Heard accuses him of domestic violence
In 2015, Depp married actress Amber Heard, but the pair divorced 15 months later. After Heard accused the actor of domestic violence, Paradis reportedly wrote a handwritten letter supporting her ex. She wrote that Depp was a “sensitive, loving and loved person,” adding, “In all these years I have known Johnny he has never been physically abusive with me and this looks nothing like the man I lived with for 14 wonderful years.”
Sources close to Depp and Paradis concurred that their relationship was not violent. “Never any story in 14 years, never a sense of violence, never a scene,” a friend said. “That’s so not Johnny and Vanessa. Johnny was very sensitive, both were. It was important to them that they set good examples to their children.”
March 2020: Vanessa Paradis defends Johnny Depp in his lawsuit against Amber Heard
In 2020, Paradis submitted a declaration defending Depp in his defamation lawsuit against Heard.
“I have known Johnny Depp for more than 25 years. We’ve been partners for 14 years and we raised our two children together. Through all these years I’ve known Johnny to be a kind, attentive, generous and nonviolent person and father,” she wrote. “I am aware of the allegations which Amber Heard has publicly accused Johnny of for more than 4 years now. This is nothing like the true Johnny I have known, and from my personal experience of many years, I can say he was never violent or abusive to me.”
In June 2022, U.S. courts awarded Depp $10 million in damages in the lawsuit, which stemmed from a 2018 op-ed Heard wrote for The Washington Post. Heard appealed the decision in July 2022.
In Heard’s countersuit, Depp was found to have defamed his ex-wife, who was awarded $2 million in damages. Depp appealed Heard’s counterclaim win in November 2022, arguing that the verdict was “erroneous.”
July 2020: Vanessa Paradis defends Johnny Depp in his libel lawsuit against The Sun
In 2018, Depp filed a libel lawsuit against The Sun for calling him a “wife-beater.” Paradis submitted a declaration in his defense in July 2020.
Her statement was largely identical to that of the declaration submitted in Depp’s U.S. lawsuit against Heard but provided more context for her opinion of the actor.
“On movie sets the actors, directors and entire crews adore him because he is humble and respectful to everyone, as well as being one of the best actors we’ve seen,” Paradis wrote. “I have seen that these outrageous statements have been really distressing, and also caused damage to his career because unfortunately people have gone on believing these false facts. This is so upsetting as he has helped so many [people] in his personal and professional life, with kindness and generosity.”
In November 2020, Depp lost the case. U.K. High Court judge Andrew Nicol found The Sun‘s report and Heard’s abuse claims to be “substantially true.”
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