Johnny Depp turns 52 years old today, and while we might give the guy a lot of sh*t for his movie choices in recent years, it is commendable that an actor as quirky and unconventional has managed not only to survive the industry for 31 years (since his debut on Nightmare on Elm Street), but to become one of the most successful and well-known actors in Hollywood.
On the occasion of his birthday, I wanted to find a lesser known fact about the guy, and it turns out, he did quite the mitzvah for a woman back in 2008. In October 2007, 17-year-old Sophie Wilkinson was involved in a horrific car crash, in which the driver of the car drove away with only minor injuries. Wilkinson, however, was left in a coma that doctors believed she’d never come out of. Her parents were told to prepare for the worst, but a few months later, those parents came up with an idea to help Wilkinson out of her coma.
Sophie was a huge, huge fan of Johnny Depp, and her parents believed that if Sophie were to hear his voice, it would help her come out of the coma. Depp agreed, and recorded a series of physical commands for Sophie in the voice of his Pirates of the Caribbean character, Captain Jack Sparrow.
When the news of this was announced back in 2008, it seemed like a very sweet gesture. However, though newspapers and the Internet were quick to write about the gesture, they didn’t follow up here in America with Wilkinson’s progress.
It took a while, but Wilkinson eventually did wake up from her coma (after nine months), and her family attributes it to Johnny Depp and Stephen Fry (Wilkinson’s Twitter profile reads, “RTA passenger @ 17, awoken by Johnny Depp & @StephenFry from 9 mth coma.”)
After Wilkinson awoke, there were a few more follow ups in British papers in subsequent years, mostly to the affect that Wilkinson would be home soon. Unfortunately, it was six years before she finally was able to come home. In the interim, a court did order insurers to pay $1.3 million pounds to afford pay for full-time care for the rest of Wilkinson’s life.
Several years after Johnny Depp helped to wake Wilkinson from her coma, she’s still alive, and in fact, celebrated her 24th birthday yesterday. She’s also still a fan of Depp — she might have even enjoyed Mortdecai.