Lily-Rose Depp is Hollywood’s Next Big Thing
Pop culture fans get ready: from June 4, Lily-Rose Depp’s face is going to be inescapable. After first being teased in June 2021, the future Hollywood superstar’s highly anticipated, long-awaited leading role in HBO drama, The Idol, will debut.
The actress, supermodel, influencer and the daughter of Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Vanessa Paradis will star alongside The Weeknd, who is both executive-producing and starring in the series. Depp, 23, stars as his love interest.
The Idol is set within the music industry. It sees a self-help guru, who also heads up a modern-day cult, Tedros, played by The Weeknd, develop a complex relationship with a burgeoning pop idol, Jocelyn, played by Lily-Rose. Considering it was co-created by the man behind the Gen Z-obsessed show Euphoria, and the fact each teaser goes viral on TikTok, many are already calling it The Next Big Thing on the silver screen.
It’s also already proving controversial despite not being out (only a handful of people saw the first few episodes at Cannes this week) which is only helping to drive conversation around the show. You know what they say: all publicity...
Of course, it helps that Depp already has a cool girl pedigree. Her parents are icons in their respective fields; she splits her time between Paris and Los Angeles; dated the internet’s crush Timothée Chalamet; and even her godfather is famous, albeit unexpected — it’s shock rocker Marilyn Manson.
Still, as the fourth and final trailer dropped this week, with Depp’s character taking part in a sultry photoshoot with a real-life pop star Troye Sivan, who will play an undisclosed character, and taking drugs with The Weeknd — it feels like she’s about to go stratospheric. Not to mention her upcoming roles in Robert Eggers’ take onNosferatuand in cult film company A24’s The Governesses.
As the rising star gears up for her biggest year yet, we go inside her childhood as the daughter of two Hollywood heavyweights.
A laissez-faire, bilingual childhood
With her dad nominated for three Best Actor Oscars before her 10th birthday, and her French supermodel mother fronting Chanel campaigns, Depp was never going to have a normal upbringing.
As the daughter of one of the world’s most famous former power couples, she split her childhood between film premieres in LA and summer holidays in Paris. “I feel so connected to my French roots and my American roots. I’m connected to both cultures. I feel very lucky to speak both languages,” she has said of her bilingual upbringing.
Despite now being one of Hollywood’s most exciting young actresses, Depp was more interested in emulating her mother’s singing career growing up. Paradis, now 50, became a child star at 14 with hit 1987 single Joe le Taxi. It was a huge success in France, topping the charts for almost three months. “When I was little, I wanted to be a singer, just because I wanted to be like Mum. Every little girl wants to be like her mum,” Depp has said. In her recent i-D cover, she also admitted that she still couldn’t quite believe how cool her mother was. “Whenever I see old photos of her, I’m like, ‘Ugh. That’s what I look like in my dreams.’ She’ll send me photos of her when she was younger, and say things like, ‘We’re twins.’ And I’m like, ‘You’re so much prettier than me.’ She’s so beautiful.”
Her teen years were relaxed. “My parents weren’t very strict. They’ve always trusted me to be independent and make my own decisions. There wasn’t really anything to rebel against,” she added of being a teenager. “I’m not really a club-goer. I’m really a chilled person. I like staying at home. I honestly watch cooking shows more than anything.”
Her childhood hobbies included reading books by her favourite philosopher Marcus Aurelius and watching documentaries to unwind. “I feel weird if I don’t have a book,” she told Elle, before citing her favourite reads, which include: Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Blue Nights by Joan Didion and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.
However, her parents taught her from an early age the importance of privacy, with Depp shying away from most forms of social media. She uses only Instagram, where she shares the occasional update from on set. Growing up, “my parents protected my brother [Jack] and me from it as much as possible,” she explained in a November 2022 cover story. “I’ve just been raised in a manner that has taught me that privacy is something that’s important to protect.”
But her childhood wasn’t without its darker moments. In 2007 aged seven, Depp was hospitalised for nine days due to kidney failure caused by food poisoning. Her father described this as the “darkest period of his life” in a 2015 interview on The Graham Norton Show.
“They told us her kidneys had shut down and that she would be lucky to survive,” he said. “For nine days, we sat by her bed, and refused to move until she began to pull through.”
From playing dress up to being le visage of Chanel
In what sounds like a fashion fairytale, a young Depp spent the early noughties accompanying her mother to fittings at the Parisian atelier. This was after Paradis landed one of many of her Chanel campaigns for the fragrance Coco.
“The first time I ever met Karl [Lagerfeld] was when I went up to the studio with my mum,” she told Vogue Australia. “I was really little and I had been with my mum to have all her fittings, which was so exciting and magical, and she was trying on all the amazing dresses. She used to say hi to Karl so I remember meeting him and I think it’s really rare to meet someone like Karl, because he’s obviously such an icon in so many ways, but he was so sweet, down-to-earth and really caring.”
It didn’t take long for the fashion legend’s head to be turned by the young starlet. Depp later recalled to The Face the moment she found out she would become the brand’s youngest ambassador. “It was a call from my grandmother, and I actually could not believe it. I called the team that I now know pretty well, that I love so much. I talked to them, talked to Karl, and it was just a really special moment for me.”
She has since closed the brand’s autumn/winter 2015 couture show, fronted a Chanel No5 L’Eau fragrance campaign, and worn a stunning Chanel halterneck white gown to her first Met Gala in 2016.
Of Depp’s early foray into fashion, her father admitted he was “quite worried”, saying: “I wasn’t expecting all this to happen to Lily-Rose, especially not at this age. But it’s her passion and she’s having fun.”
Following in her father’s footsteps
Alongside modelling, Depp has also been pursuing the other side of her heritage: acting. It all started when her friend’s dad, Clerks director Kevin Smith, offered her a small cameo alongside his daughter (and her own dad, credited as â“Guy LaPointe”) in his 2014 body horror, Tusk.
Aged 14 at the time, she made the low-budget indie â“just for fun”, Vogue reported. However, it later transpired that Smith liked his daughter and Depp’s characters so much that he wrote Yoga Hosers to showcase their sardonic wit as two yoga-obsessed, Nazi-fighting gas station attendants.
This role “was the beginning” of Depp’s acting career. â“That’s when I really realised: â‘Wow, I love this.’ You know when you just start doing something, you begin to feel like this is where you belong? I had never truly felt like I was in the right place before, career-wise. Now I know that this is what I want to do for ever.”
She went on to quit her exclusive Los Angeles school in 2016 to focus on a career in showbiz. The young actress conceded it was impossible for her to pursue acting as a career and still attend classes and do her homework. Speaking of her parents to The Face, she said: “They both left school when they were 15, so they can’t really say anything. I never thought of university as my goal. I’ve always just wanted to work.”
Despite performances in several French and English-language productions (including 2018’s A Faithful Man, for which she was nominated for a César Award), it was her appearance in David Michôd’s Shakespearean epic The King that marked Depp’s entrance into the mainstream.
“This is definitely the biggest project I’ve ever been a part of,” she told W Magazine. “Working at that scale can be nerve-racking, but with that comes a lot of excitement and drive to do the best job I can.” She starred as Catherine of Valois, opposite Robert Pattinson, Joel Edgerton and Timothée Chalamet as King Henry V (who she began dating — more on this later).
The Idol and its many controversies
Her upcoming role in The Idol is set to change everything. Backed by A24 and directed by Euphoria’s Sam Levinson — many think she’s on track for a Zendaya-level boost to her career, with the former Disney star becoming the youngest ever Emmy winner for her role as Rue in Euphoria.
“I’ve dreamt of roles like this for forever. I just don’t think that you could give an actress a greater gift than a role like this,” Depp told i-D in her February 2023 cover story. “This has been the most meaningful and important project that I’ve ever done, and the thing that I’m the proudest of. I don’t know where to begin. Jocelyn is the most wonderfully complex character. She’s so fascinating. A mystery. After a year of living with that character, I’m still obsessed with her. I just want to keep digging deeper.”
Depp underwent a rigorous casting process over Zoom (the pandemic made IRL auditions impossible), but it was Levinson’s wife Ashley (who’s also an executive producer on the show) who first bet on Depp. “The moment Ash saw Lily-Rose’s audition, she said she was Jocelyn,” Levinson said. “It was true—she was sensational. HBO always has a lengthy audition process, but they knew it, too. She’s also just one of the best collaborators you could wish for. She can act, she can sing, and her and Abel’s chemistry is off the charts.”
Since the first trailer dropped last March, revealing that Troye Sivan, Blackpink’s Lisa, Dan Levy, Jane Adams, and indie darling Rachel Sennott were also part of the ensemble, The Idol has promised to be “the sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood”. Yet, a damning Rolling Stone exposé described the series instead as “twisted Torture porn” after speaking with 13 unidentified sources.
Depp defended Levinson, saying: “Sam is, for so many reasons, the best director I have ever worked with. Never have I felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input and opinions more valued.” While The Weeknd later brushed off the allegations on Instagram, asking: “Rolling Stone did we upset you?”
Getting caught up in a nepo baby sh** storm
Ok, they might have existed since the dawn of entertainment, but last year the dominance of nepo babies in every corner of music, art and film became a hot topic on TikTok.
In November of 2022, Elle magazine asked if she had heard about the whole “nepo-baby” conversation. “I’m familiar,” she said. “The internet seems to care a lot about that kind of stuff. People are going to have preconceived ideas about you or how you got there, and I can definitely say that nothing is going to get you the part except for being right for the part.
“The internet cares a lot more about who your family is than the people who are casting you in things. Maybe you get your foot in the door, but you still just have your foot in the door. There’s a lot of work that comes after that.”
She added: “It’s weird to me to reduce somebody to the idea that they’re only there because it’s a generational thing. It just doesn’t make any sense. If somebody’s mom or dad is a doctor, and then the kid becomes a doctor, you’re not going to be like, ‘Well, you’re only a doctor because your parent is a doctor.’ It’s like, ‘No, I went to medical school and trained. I just hear it a lot more about women, and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence.”
Her comments sparked an outcry in the modelling community on social media. Italian-born Vittoria Ceretti was one of the first supermodels to call out the prevalence of nepotism babies. Although she did not name Depp, she said she’d like to see if a “certain nepo baby” could have “lasted through the first five years of my career” days after the interview was released. “I bumped into an interview of a so-called ‘nepo baby’ or whatever y’all call it," she said in an Instagram post. “You can tell me your sad little story about it (even at the end of the day you can still always go cry on your dad’s couch in your villa in Malibu), but how about not being able to pay for your flight back home to your family? You have no f***** idea how much it takes to make people respect you. TAKES YEARS. You just get it [for] free day one.”
Other supermodels such as Anok Yai, Aweng Chuol and Nyagua Ruea also spoke out after Depp’s comments. “Goddamn if you only knew the hell we go through just to be able to stand in the same room that you were born in,” Yai said in an Instagram story. While Choul also posted to her Instagram story: “We don’t get to choose to have a cushioned background or not, but for a second realise your experience.”
A month later, New York Magazine immortalised Depp’s blunder in their now infamous “The year of the nepo baby” cover. Depp’s headshot fronted it alongside the likes of Maude Apatow (daughter of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann) and Zoë Kravitz (daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet).
In the 3,000-word feature, the magazine also referenced Depp’s argument that, “maybe you get your foot in the door, but you still just have your foot in the door” by referring to an essay Fran Lebowitz wrote in a 1997 issue of Vanity Fair: “This is ludicrous. Getting in the door is pretty much the entire game, especially in movie acting, which is, after all, hardly a profession notable for its rigour.”
Depp has since commented on the outlash, telling i-D: “I’m so careful about these conversations now. I feel like my parents did the best job that they possibly could at giving me the most ‘normal childhood’ that they could. And obviously, that still was not a normal childhood. I’m super aware of the fact that my childhood did not look like everybody’s,” she continued. “But at the same time, it’s all that I know, so I have had to find comfort in it somehow. I’m really lucky that I’ve been surrounded by people who value normalcy and who value real life and I think that’s the only way to exist in this world and not go insane.”
A roster of A-list exes
Depp has been linked to some of the world’s most eligible bachelors. She was first romantically linked to model Ash Stymest in 2016. The fashion-forward couple are understood to have dated for nearly two years before their split. Although they never spoke publicly about their relationship, they made several media appearances hand-in-hand during that time.
Depp’s next boyfriend was Gen Z pin-up Timothée Chalamet. Like all great Hollywood love stories, the two are understood to have met on a movie set — Netflix’s The King to be exact. They dated between October 2018 and April 2020 and were often spotted at Tompkins Square Bagels in New York’s East Village.
The pair were photographed holding hands in the rain after eating at fast-food joint Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. In September 2019, they were caught snogging aboard the yacht Valeria in Capri, Italy. Asked whether the PDA photos were a PR stunt, Chalamet told GQ in 2020: “A PR stunt?! Do you think I’d want to look like that in front of all of you?”
Later in summer 2021, Depp and Elvis actor Austin Butler, who previously dated Vanessa Hudgens, sparked relationship rumours after being seen kissing and spending time together in London. However, those rumours have since been quashed, with Depp having been most recently photographed with current boo, French rapper Yassine Stein.
Most recently, she’s been linked with rapper 070 Shake. Rumours that the pair were dating were seemingly confirmed in March when they attended Paris Fashion Week together. Most notably, they were pictured kissing over dinner. Depp then soft-launched their new alt-power couple status with a graffitied mirror selfie on Instagram.