In recent court documents Amber Heard filed a week after obtaining a restraining order against Johnny Depp for alleged domestic violence, the actress claims her estranged husband is "an alcoholic and drug addict" – vices he said in recent years were long in the past.
"Depp had relapsed into a cycle of substance abuse," Heard alleged in recent court documents obtained by PEOPLE in her defamation suit against comedian Doug Stanhope, who published an article in TheWrap.com accusing Heard of "blackmail" and other criminal behavior against her husband. "His drug and alcohol abuse has increased dramatically in recent years, as has his violent behavior."
Depp has been candid about his struggles with substance abuse, but mostly attributed the bad behavior to his early days in Hollywood – long before becoming a father to Lily-Rose, 17, and Jack, 14.
"I'm a dumb-a--, and I poisoned myself for years," Depp told Rolling Stone in 2008 of past experiences with alcohol, noting of then-partner Vanessa Paradis, "Now I understand things better."
Depp cited the early 1990s as a "darker period" in his life during a 2005 interview with the magazine, explaining that while he wasn't "completely unhappy," he still "couldn't get a grasp on it."
That "darker period" fell around the time Depp was in a volatile relationship with model Kate Moss. During one shouting match, Depp was arrested for criminal mischief at New York's Mark Hotel for trashing his room. Police found Depp "in a state of possible intoxication," but a criminal court judge dismissed the charge against him on the condition that he stay out of trouble for six months. Depp paid the Mark $9,767.12 – more than $2,000 for damages, plus the bill for the remainder of his reservation.
"I spent years poisoning myself," he told Rolling Stone in 2005. "I was very, very good at it. But finally I was faced with a critical decision: Do I want to continue to be a dumb-a-- or do I want to not be a dumb-a--? It was best to stop. Now I look back and say, 'Why? Why did I do that?' "
Depp, now 52, specifically noted that he drank heavily not to have fun or for recreational purposes, explaining, "I never had that. It was never about recreation. Not. Ever. That was never my motivation."
He revealed that he began smoking at age 12, a vice closely followed by drugs and alcohol.
"I never wanted to be the guy people looked at," Depp told The Boston Globe in 2008. "I felt I could only be myself when I was alone, that I turned into some kind of novelty. The only way I could get through that time was to drink."
In 2004, Depp told Playboy that although he abused alcohol, "I was never a cokehead or anything like that," according to The Chicago Tribune. "I always despised that drug. I thought it was a waste of time, pointless. But I was poisoning myself with alcohol and medicating myself. I was trying not to feel things, and that's ridiculous."
Seven years earlier, Depp also opened up about past issues with alcohol in a 1997 interview with Vanity Fair.
"Oh, man, yeah. Johnny was unhappy then ... It was a pretty dark time for me. I don't know what was going on. Well, I was poisoning myself beyond belief," he said, then pointed to his soda. "I'd eat that glass, man. There was a lot of liquor. A lot of liquor. I was pretty unhealthy."
In the same interview, he was also coy when asked if he used heroin during that "dark time."
"Oh, let's not talk about that ... It was a very sad time for me. I've never seen Gilbert Grape, actually. I can't watch it."
In addition to family influence, Depp has said challenging roles have helped him back from the brink. 1994's Ed Wood, Depp told ABC News, "was the rocket ship that took me away from that horrible, black, bleak time."
Depp has also acknowledged he has a temper. He talked about drawing on what Depp called his "old hillbilly rage" to portray gangster Whitey Bulger in an interview with GQ last year
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"That's not necessarily that far from the surface at times," Depp said.
Heard alleges that she's been a victim of this violent streak, claiming in court documents that "Depp has hit and kicked Heard on numerous occasions, has thrown objects at her, at one point nearly suffocated her to the point where she feared for her life."
Friends of Depp told PEOPLE that the pair's four-year romance was "nonstop drama," and that they are simply "just not good together."
Yet many close to the Black Mass star are sticking by his side, including Paradis, who reportedly wrote a letter explaining that he was never abusive to her.
"This looks nothing like the man I lived with for 14 wonderful years."