How Johnny Depp's Daughter Became an Actress

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Harley Quinn, left, and Lily-Rose Melody in Kevin Smith's Tusk.

Johnny Depp’s daughter, 15-year-old Lily-Rose Melody, became an actress by accident. Lily-Rose was hanging out on the set of writer-director Kevin Smith’s forthcoming horror-comedy, Tusk, watching her best friend, 15-year-old Harley Quinn, perform a scene. Quinn — who just happens to be Smith’s daughter — had a supporting role in the film, playing a Canadian convenience-store clerk; Daddy Depp, meanwhile, was there to play Guy Lapointe, an over-the-top sleuth (think a French-Canadian Columbo) on the trail of a maniac (Michael Parks) intent on turning a podcaster (Justin Long) into a walrus (click here for a full review).

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According to Smith, who talked to Yahoo Movies in Toronto wearing a hockey jersey and enormous Bermuda shorts, Depp agreed to add his daughter to the cast immediately. According to Smith, after the actor’s first day on set, “Johnny was like, ‘Oh my God, it was fun. I had a blast, and it was easy, and it wasn’t work.’ So, [on] day two, when he came back, Lily was coming to watch Harley act. So I was like, ‘Dude, Lily’s coming. Could she be in the scene?’”

Depp didn’t hesitate. "Johnny was like, ‘It’d be a missed opportunity if I didn’t do that,’” Smith recalls. “So as we’re shooting that scene, it’s magic: Johnny’s sitting there talking to his kid, [and] I’m sitting there talking to my kid, saying, ‘Try it like this, or do it like this.’”

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Lily-Rose Depp last year; (Inset) her dad, Johnny Depp

It was the girls that first brought Depp and Smith together in the first place, when the daughters attended the same Los Angeles school. “I know Johnny and [his former partner] Vanessa Paradis through them,” Smith says. “Harley and Lily-Rose have been hanging out since they were six, and they’re still tight today.”

Whenever the two men attended school functions, the 44-year-old director of such hits as the 1994 indie breakout hit Clerks considered Depp out of his league. But when Smith sent Depp the Tusk script, it took only two weeks for Depp to commit, telling Smith, “This [script] is bats---. I’m in. Thank you for thinking of me.” As Smith says, “He’s very good at making you feel like, ‘You just did me a solid, dude.’ And I was like, ‘Dude, I know which way the favor goes here.’” 

Within months, the two families were working together — and plotting their next collaboration. “After the scene was over, [Johnny] said, ‘That was so much fun, we should do that again,’” Smith recalls. “I took him seriously…but when I watched that scene [later], I said, ‘Why not [do a movie] with the girls? So I hit up Vanessa first. I asked if she would mind if I wrote a whole movie for the girls to be in. She asked, ‘Do you think that’s possible?’ I said, ‘I’m a stoner. Anything’s possible.’”

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The result is the currently filming Yoga Hosers, which takes place a year after Tusk, and which stars Harley and Lily-Rose in the leads, with Depp returning as Guy Lapointe. As Smith’s wife, Jennifer, recently reminded him, the film’s setting bears a strong resemblance to the film that launched his indie-auteur career two decades ago. “Kevin, it’s two people standing behind a counter at a convenience store,” she told Smith. “This is your wheelhouse.’”

With a burst of enthusiasm, Smith agreed.”I said, ‘You’re right. It’s girl Clerks.’”

Photo credit: Instagram (@lily.depp); FameFlynet;David M. Benett/Getty Images

Watch the trailer for Tusk below: