Vanessa and I are bringing up our kids with pretty simple priorities. They come out being who they are, and we just want them to carry on being themselves, with a bit of guidance from us about what’s right and what’s wrong. And that’s not about, for instance, being polite because you’re supposed to be polite, but being polite because you respect other people.
We’re big on fairy tales in our house. The Cinderellas, the Snow Whites, the Sleeping Beauties. Classic stories of good and evil, where you learn that if you do bad things, bad things will come back to you, and if you do good things, good things will come back to you. And that, if you put your mind to it, pretty much anything is possible. Cinderella had to deal with her wicked stepmother, but she got her prince in the end, didn’t she?
My friend Hector Elizondo once said that being successful in our business doesn’t change people—it reveals them. If you were a schmuck before you were famous, you’ll be a schmuck after. You can try to hide it, but sooner or later, it will come out. I don’t know—maybe I have an evil monster inside of me somewhere that will come out at some point. But so far, I think I’m doing OK.
The worst thing is when people go out of their way to be rude to other people. It’s such a despicable injustice. We’re all in the same boat here, famous or not, every single one of us.
I was devastated when Marlon Brando died. He was so many things to so many people, and to me, he was the greatest teacher, a great mentor, and a great friend. The gifts that he gave me in the way of conversations we had, the laughs we shared, were the greatest gifts in the world. I miss him every day. Although, I think he’s probably still around, hovering somewhere, laughing at us.
I don’t take my work home. I have an amazing job and I make a good living. But for me, the best part of the day is when I go home to my girl and my kids. It’s like a whole new day beginning for me.
I went to France a few years ago to make a film—I had no idea I’d be living there for the rest of my life. I was making The Ninth Gate with Roman Polanski, and it was very early on in the production that I met Vanessa. And then I fell in love, and after that I was a lost cause.
Vanessa is a miracle in my life. I feel though I’ve met THE ONE you used to think about as a child, the one you were searching the world over, trying to find. She’s incredibly understanding, and she’s been dealing with me for years, which is no mean task. We’re on the same page, she and I.
I divide my time between France and America. I love America, I’ll always be American, and I have great friends and family there, but living in France I feel at home. It’s the first time I’ve ever really felt at home anywhere.
One of the greatest gifts we have is imagination. It makes up 95 per cent of our minds, it’s our greatest asset, our best friend, and, in some cases, if we’re not careful, our worst enemy.
Growing older doesn’t necessarily mean growing up. I’ve known quite a few guys in their 60s, 70s, 80s, who have had the most amazing, child-like sense of humour. Marlon, for one. And Vincent Price was one of the funniest people I’ve ever known—we’d giggle together like infants.
I like getting older. It’s a good thing, like earning your stripes in life. But it does seem there’s a new obsession these days with trying to look younger, and I just don’t get it. Anyway, it never works—like the Radiohead song says, gravity always wins, doesn’t it? But if you can grow old gracefully, and stay happy in your heart and brain, I think it’s great.
I don’t want to get used to being famous and I don’t think I ever will—if it ever started to seem normal to me, then I’d know I’d become something I don’t want to be! But I do think I handle fame better than I used to, mainly because these days I have a couple of kids to put everything into perspective, and show me the things in life that really matter and the things in life that don’t.
I think you can have it all. I really do. I had a lot but I didn’t have it all until I had my girl and my kiddies. Now that I have them, I’ve got everything I need.
Johnny Depp stars in the film Finding Neverland with Kate Winslet.
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