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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 16:08 GMT
Johnny Depp: The acting outlaw
Johnny Depp in The Fast Show
Depp was a huge fan of the BBC's The Fast Show - and appeared in its finale
Johnny Depp, who was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his pantomime role in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, is celebrated as one of Hollywood's most maverick talents.

Depp has become an unlikely major star, given his choice for taking dark and idiosyncratic roles instead of certain box office hits. He has had a long-running working relationship with the equally unconventional director Tim Burton.

Depp was born in Kentucky in 1963, and at first wanted to be a rock star, playing in a number of bands and supporting acts like Iggy Pop and the B-52s in Florida.

On a visit to Los Angeles, that his former wife introduced him to actor Nicolas Cage.

In 1984 he started his film career playing a doomed teenager in the horror film Nightmare on Elm Street, and two years later a soldier in Oliver Stone's Platoon.

But it was TV that first made him a star. He played undercover cop Tommy Hanson in the series 21 Jump Street for three years from 1987.

In 1990 he began his partnership with Burton in the dark fairy tale Edward Scissorhands, about a young man with blades for hands.

Depp and Vanessa Paradis
Depp has two children with Vanessa Paradis
He won plaudits in 1993 for the downbeat film What's Eating Gilbert Grape, where he played a sensitive youth looking after an overweight mother and a retarded younger brother, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Another role under Burton, Ed Wood, starred Depp as the crazed cult film-maker Wood, in 1994.

He played a much more serious, sensitive role in his next major film, Donnie Brasco, where he portrayed an undercover cop infiltrating a mafia ring.

In 1997 he directed his only film so far - The Brave, the story of an Indian man offered money to star in a snuff film, and two years later played Hunter S Thompson in the big screen adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

He worked again with Tim Burton in the 1999 horror film Sleepy Hollow, and appeared opposite Dame Judi Dench and Juliette Binoche in Chocolat.

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean
Some have likened Depp's pirate to Rolling Stone Keith Richard

His performance in Pirates of the Caribbean, which has earned him a Golden Globes nomination, had many critics thinking he had based it on his friend, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.

Depp was in a relationship with British model Kate Moss for several years, but has since had two children with French singer Vanessa Paradis.

British TV comedy fans might also remember Depp's guest role in the last episode of sketch programme The Fast Show - the actor said it was his favourite TV show.

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