"He has found a peace within himself that he didn't have before," says Harvey Weinstein of Depp (in '03).
Johnny Depp was having his very own take-your-daughter-to-work day. For months he had been commuting from the set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory near London to see his family – Lily-Rose, 5, Jack, 2, and their mom, his longtime companion, Vanessa Paradis, 31 – at their retreat on the French Riviera. Every weekend was the same, says producer Richard Zanuck: On Friday after work Depp took a two-hour flight to Nice followed by a two-hour drive to the family house in a tiny French village, then headed back to London again every Sunday night. The trip never wore him out. "Monday morning he'd be all smiles and say, 'I just had the greatest time with my family,' " says Zanuck. "It seemed to refresh him." But he brought the family to England for the last month of shooting. And nothing could quite compare to the charge he got bringing Lily-Rose to the set on Nov. 9. As Zanuck explains, "He wanted her to see him playing with the Oompa Loompas."
Talk about perks. Less than a year after Hollywood's sweetly scruffy outsider was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for the $654 million-grossing Pirates of the Caribbean, Depp, 41, is once again riding high on a wave of good fortune. There's Oscar buzz about his role as Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. And there's Depp's deep contentment with family life – a life that now includes a recently purchased private island in the Caribbean where he can watch Paradis, an actress and model, play with their two children. "One of the most beautiful things in the world," Depp told Oprah Winfrey on Nov. 2, "is seeing a mommy with her kids. There's nothing more beautiful, nothing more sublime."