Who Is Daniel Depp, Johnny Depp’s Older Brother & What Does He Do?

What’s it like to have a famous sibling? Daniel Depp might have an inkling. Who doesn’t know Johnny Depp? The world-famous actor is best known for his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He goes by other names like Willie Wonka, The Mad Hatter, Grindelwald, Tonto, Edward Scissorhands, and Barnabas Collins and is also known for his foray into the music industry as well.

He has made headlines over the past couple of years not for his films, but for his brutal divorce battle with Amber Heard. Having said that, you will be excused if you were unaware that Johnny Depp has siblings, one of whom enjoys some level of notoriety. So, who is Daniel Depp, and besides being the brother of Johnny, what makes him famous?



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The oldest of the four Depp children is Daniel. He is ten years older than his famous younger half-brother since he was born on November 14, 1953.

Kentucky-born, Daniel says his family was one that was constantly on the move. “I had a truly Truman Capote Appalachian childhood because I was born in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. Then my mom remarried, and we lived in Owensboro for a while and Lexington. I went to at least five different high schools,” explained to The Scotsman.

Those five different high schools eventually led Daniel Depp to the University of Kentucky. As a college student, Daniel majored in European History and Classics, which was a study of literature and language. Although he was studying lit and language, his initial dream was that of becoming an architect.

“I loved the combination of art and science and all the architects I knew were wonderful, crazy people.” Unfortunately, Daniel found out early on that training to become an architect was going to be expensive, so in turn, he moved toward the classics and history.

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By his own admission, Daniel probably took too long with his studies. He was constantly in and out of college, working on his HG Wells and Edwardian technology theses. Daniel married his wife of now 42 years, Mahnaz Sham, and it was then that reality set in with him. “I left after realising I would never succeed as a professor. At that point, my wife was going to have a baby. She got a lovely job in Maine, so I said the hell with it, and we went up there.”

Living in Maine introduced Daniel Depp to teaching but he has worn many hats when it comes to employment. While many a Daniel Depp bio claims his background as a journalist, bookseller, photographer, and teacher, Depp says, “The list goes far beyond that. I’ve worked digging ditches and as an engineering draftsman. I worked in libraries and bookstores. The job I really liked was managing the art library at night because I was also studying ceramics and learning how to throw pots with a wonderful guy named John Tuska. He was a hard taskmaster. You had to make all your own tools in the machine shop and mix your own clays. I got fascinated by Staffordshire low-fire pottery.” A Jack-of-all-Trades.


One part of his Jack-of-all-Trades career is that he was a screenwriter. In 1994, he got a call from his almost famous brother saying that they had an opportunity to finally work together. Depp was coming off of the TV series 21 Jump Street and his recent work included Edward Scissorhands, Benny & Joon, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, and Donnie Brasco, so his star was definitely on the rise.

The film was called The Brave and it not only had Johnny Depp in the film, but also Marlon Brando, Frederic Forrest, Clarence Williams III, and Luis Guzmán. But despite the high-profile names, Daniel Deep was extremely reluctant to get involved.

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“I didn’t want to go. I knew what was going to happen. I loved the idea of making a film but I knew it would be a headache – there’d be this business of being the star’s brother, and I knew I was walking into a heated political situation, with a lot of people who were going to consider me a hayseed, anyway.”

Fortunately for Daniel Depp, the issues with the film didn’t start or end with the work he did on the script. But issues there were. His younger brother also pitched in and help co-pen the script. Johnny was also the producer, director, and starred in the film, which he said in a 1997 interview with the Los Angeles Times, “I felt driven to do this movie. “This was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It just about ripped me to shreds.”

The film eventually got made, with Johnny Depp pitching in $2 million of his own money to get it completed. When it was screened in America, the film received devastating reviews, prompting enough movie theatres to back away from it that it never got an official U.S. release. The film was probably cursed even before it got to that point, though.

One of the initial producers of the film was a man named Aziz Ghazal. He was the manager of the USC film school’s stock room and the person who optioned the novel of the same name from author Gregory McDonald. Right before work was to start on the film, Ghazal bludgeoned his wife and 13-year-old daughter to death and then took his own life. The production company that was going to distribute the film, Touchstone, dropped the film immediately.


Another one of Daniel Depp’s Jack-of-all-Trade careers continued to revolve around writing. This one was as an author, and it was one that he was pretty good at. But it was a career he kept under wraps for a while.

“It drove my brother crazy! I never thought I’d actually make a living writing. I’ve never gotten the sort of thrill out of publishing my work that lots of people do. For me, it’s about a series of challenges to be met. The way I judge what I’ve done is to see how close I actually got to meeting those challenges.”

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Depp’s first novel was called Loser’s Town. It was about a former stuntman, David Spandau, who turns into a Hollywood PI and is hired to protect actor Bobby Dye. His second novel, Babylon Nights, follows Spandau again as he now entertains himself with once famous actress Anna Mayhew. Daniel Depp’s third novel was called Devil’s Dance and it brought back David Spandau one more time. This time he is watching after a famous Hollywood director.



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A post shared by Daniel Depp (@dan_depp02)

Daniel Depp continues to write but for the most part, remains out of the spotlight, enjoying life with his wife of 42 years. He does have an Instagram account that he doesn’t frequent too often, though he does make sure he has a picture with him and his famous brother.

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