Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, Depp began as a guitarist (a skill he would demonstrate on the soundtrack of several of his later films) and was encouraged to become an actor by Nicolas Cage, having his first major role in A Nightmare on Elm Street. His success in the television series 21 Jump Street led to him becoming a teen idol.
In 1990, Depp appeared in Edward Scissorhands as the titular character, beginning a long association with Tim Burton, which he had become best known. He also became known for playing Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, one of three actors to have appeared in all four films.
Whilst best known for his roles in off-beat, unusual productions, he has been twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.