Johnny Depp is breaking his silence about the end of his 14-year relationship with Vanessa Paradis in the July 4 issue of Rolling Stone. The never-wed couple (parents to Lily-Rose, 14, and Jack, 11) announced their breakup in June 2012, but the notoriously tight-lipped Lone Ranger actor had kept quiet about their split -- until now.
"The last couple years have been a bit bumpy," Depp tells the magazine. "At times, certainly unpleasant, but that's the nature of breakups, I guess, especially when there are kiddies involved."
Depp, 50, continues, "Relationships are very difficult. Especially in the racket that I'm in because you're constantly away or they're away and so it's hard. It wasn't easy on her. It wasn't easy on me. It wasn't easy on the kids. So, yeah. The trajectory of that relationship -- you play it out until it goes, one thing leads to another. So for whatever reason that ceases, it doesn't stop the fact that you care for that person, and they're the mother of your kids, and you'll always know each other, and you're always gonna be in each other's lives because of those kids. You might as well make the best of it."
Compared to his breakups with previous girlfriends Kate Moss and Winona Ryder, Depp says he handled his split with Paradis with more maturity. "In terms of the breakup, I definitely wasn't going to rely on the drink to ease things or cushion the blow or cushion the situation," says the star, known for trashing hotel rooms in the early '90s. "'Cause that could have been fatal. I felt it was my duty to be real clear throughout that. I had something pretty serious to focus on, really, which was making sure that my kids were gonna be cool."
Depp tells Rolling Stone that his children are doing fine in the wake of his breakup with the French model and actress, 40. "They've been incredibly understanding, incredibly strong throughout the whole ordeal. And it's hard on every side. You know, Vanessa's side, certainly not easy. My side, not easy. The kids are the most complicated," he explains. "The thing is, kiddies come first. You can't shield them, because then you'd be lying. So you can at least be honest with your kids, and you say the absolute truth to your child -- that was very important to not pussyfoot around."
Until Lily-Rose's birth in 1999, Depp says he didn't understand his purpose in life beyond acting. "It really was as if a veil was lifted, and things became clearer, and I went, 'Oh, I f-cking get it now! That's what it's for! That's what it's for, this beautiful little creature that I took part in creating, making.' I didn't have a real handle on what life was supposed to mean or be or anything like that. And I still don't. And I'm not sure that life is supposed to mean anything or be anything at all," the actor muses. "But as long as you have the opportunity to breathe, breathe. As long as you have the opportunity to make your kid smile and laugh, and move it forward."
Depp doesn't talk about his 27-year-old girlfriend Amber Heard (whom he met while shooting the 2011 movie The Rum Diary), but he does explain how his own upbringing affected his philosophies about parenthood.
"I wouldn't say my youth was the perfect model in terms of raising a kid. It was a relatively violent upbringing. If you did something wrong, you got hit. If you didn't do something wrong, you got hit. But my parents, they did the best they could with that they knew, and so I figured I'd do the best with what I knew, which was do pretty much the opposite from what you guys did -- and I think I'll be all right," Depp tells Rolling Stone. "Not to say they were bad parents, because they weren't. They just didn't know any different, and it was a very different time. My mother was raised in a shack, in the wilds of Appalachia, where the toilet was an outhouse. She used to say she did the same things that her mom did -- and her mom certainly didn't know any better. With my kids, they're told 75 times a day that they're loved. One thing I know is they feel loved and secure and happy and needed and necessary and a part of something."
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Johnny Depp Finally Addresses Vanessa Paradis Split: "It Wasn't Easy"