Johnny Depp Does Not Deserve Your Sympathy

A new countersuit from Depp’s ex-management company alleges a staggering record of reckless spending. After the ugliness of his divorce, it’s hard to feel sorry for the guy.

© Rafael Marchante / Reuters

For those of us with back editions of Us Weekly stocked in our panic rooms, 2017 has been as engrossing and clickbait-y as it is apocalyptic. With a tiny-handed terror tweeting at the wheel as this country careens into chaos, celebrities have been taking outspoken stands left and right. Either the entertainment world is finally growing some teeth, or celebrities—just like us!—are getting the sense that life is short, and nothing matters anyway. When it comes to airing out dirty celebrity laundry, no A-lister has been more thoroughly exposed than Johnny Depp. Way back in May, when America was still a shining beacon of democracy and not a flawed clusterfuck of poorly executed executive orders, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp broke up. More specifically, Heard sought a restraining order against her husband of one year, and subsequently accused him of physical assault and emotional abuse. In Hollywood, certain narratives never lose their luster. Heroes with tough exteriors always have hearts of gold. Nerdy girls with glasses are super-hot when they switch to contacts. And celebrity bad boys will always be forgiven, no matter how egregious the alleged crime.

Heard and Depp’s divorce played out with the predictability of a late-career Johnny Depp flop. Heard was celebrated by her supporters for speaking out about a woefully under-reported crime. Depp was defended by TMZ, people on his payroll, and his celebrity friends. By virtue of being less famous, less powerful, and a woman, Heard quickly became a target, painted as greedy, attention-seeking, and shamefully bi-curious. Because which Hollywood starlet isn’t hankering for the role of “abused divorcee constantly hiding from the paparazzi”?

If anything, Heard’s decision to come forward promised to hinder her career—not gift her with 15 minutes of sick fame.

Unfortunately, post-allegation PR relies less on logic, and more on calling Amber Heard a “demon.” After a few rounds of he-said she-said, Depp and Heard finally arrived at a $6.8 million settlement agreement. Heard promptly pledged to donate the entirety of her divorce settlement to charity, splitting the funds between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Given the disturbing number of male celebrities who have been charged with similar crimes, Heard’s revelation was somewhat par for the course. But Depp, seemingly not content to be known as an accused abuser, took this opportunity to unintentionally out himself as a financial shit show. On the very same day that Heard and Depp finalized their divorce, the actor sued his former business managers for over $25 million, claiming that they mismanaged his profits. According to the lawsuit, The Management Group “actively concealed the true state of Mr. Depp’s finances while driving him deeper and deeper into financial distress.” Michael Kump, an attorney for TMG, quickly countered with a statement insisting that the company “did everything possible to protect Depp from his irresponsible and profligate spending.”

It’s not shocking to hear a man who agreed to do The Lone Ranger described as irresponsible. But until this week, we had no idea just how reckless Depp really was. Let’s put it this way: there’s profligate spending, and then there’s commissioning a $3 million cannon to blast the ashes of Hunter Thompson over Aspen, Colorado. According to a newly filed cross-complaint TMG is alleging that Depp—not Amber Heard, his ex-business managers, or some icky facial hair—really is his own worst enemy.

Back when Johnny Depp was just a young, up-and-coming pirate, he made do with a collection of flea market necklaces and a few sticks of Wet n’ Wild liquid eyeliner. Unfortunately, fame has gone straight to the head of our formerly frugal swashbuckler. In the Pirates of the Caribbean era, Depp always seemed content with a label-less jug of rum. But according to The Management Group’s suit, the star spent up to $30,0000 per month on expensive wines. This is just one of Depp’s many ridiculous expenditures. For almost two decades, the suit claims, TMG represented Depp to the best of their abilities. But, they explain, “The arithmetic is straightforward: Depp spent more than he brought in, notwithstanding repeated warnings by TMG.” In his original suit, Depp asserts that TMG did not adequately attempt to stop his unwise spending. But the business managers say it isn’t so, and that “Depp has only himself to blame for his current financial woes.”

So how does a successful actor mistakenly blow all of his savings? According to the suit, “profligate spending” is a marathon, not a sprint: “Throughout the entire 17-year period that TMG represented Depp, Depp lived an ultra-extravagant lifestyle that often knowingly cost Depp in excess of $2 million per month to maintain.” To put it in perspective, that’s more money than you or I will ever have. But if you do happen to stumble on a huge fortune, Depp has a few tips for setting it on fire and watching it burn. The actor’s methods included allegedly spending over $75 million on 14 residences (including “several penthouse lofts in downtown Los Angeles”?!), acquiring and maintaining at least 45 luxury vehicles, and amassing approximately 70 collectible guitars. Depp reportedly had a staff of over 40 employees around the world, at a monthly expense of at least $300,000. He also sunk over $4 million into a failed music label, and allegedly “refused to fly by any means other than private plane.”

TMG goes on to claim that Depp’s initial suit is liberally sprinkled with alternative facts. They blame Depp’s new CPA, Edward White, and his company EWC, writing, “Many of the false allegations in the complaint, including those highlighted above, would have been easily dispelled if EWC had only done a minimum amount of due diligence or had chosen to accept TMG's offer of assistance to explain Depp's finances. White and his small company lack the resources or professional experience in the business management industry to understand what is involved and required in representing an actor such as Depp.” Is it just me, or did TMG just read the house down? Come for the celebrity drama, stay for rising tensions within the celebrity business management industry.

Besides allowing TMG to give EWC a verbal ass-whupping, this cross-complaint paints a vivid picture of a very bad dude. This is the kind of man who would—allegedly—ignore the warnings of his business managers, and then turn around and terminate them (TMG claims that the actor still owes them $4.8 million for a loan that they extended in 2012, back when he was “facing public financial ruin.”) The kind of man who blames others for his own idiocy. The kind of man who, not content to fire the ashes of author Hunter Thompson over Aspen, Colorado, insisted on spending over $3 million on a specially-made cannon.

With all of this in mind, is there anyone less deserving of public sympathy than Johnny Depp? Last month, the scandal-plagued star risked social suicide by attending the 2017 People’s Choice Awards. He did so with a mission: to thank all of the fans who had inexplicably—and at times, cruelly—defended him in the midst of Heard’s allegations. “I came here for one reason tonight and one reason only,” the 53-year-old actor insisted. “I came here for you, the people who through whatever good times or bad, you know, have stood by me, trusted me. Thank you.” One can only assume that the tough times Depp is referring to are those pesky domestic abuse charges. But what are the good times? Seriously, what has this guy done to earn the eternal adoration of his fan base, other than refuse to apologize for his “redface”? How did Johnny Depp build up enough goodwill to go from allegedly beating his wife to peddling perfume faster than you can say “white actors shouldn’t play Tonto”?

We know that Hollywood can’t resist a good comeback story, or a bad husband. But maybe we can finally admit that Johnny Depp—a man whose alleged irresponsible spending is in direct contrast to his ex-wife’s charitable giving—doesn’t deserve to emerge from this “bad” period unscathed.