Grab some popcorn. Dim the lights. Settle back in your easy chair.
Today we’re going to watch one of the world’s top actors, Johnny Depp, in his most challenging role yet.
The story starts in 2010 when Depp reportedly walked off the set of the movie Black Mass when the producers tried to slash his paypacket from the standard $20 million to $10 million.
At the time, everyone thought he was a Hollywood megastar sticking to his guns, driving a hard bargain.
Turns out, though, he may have just needed the dough.
See, Johnny is currently suing his former managers (TMG), alleging they lost him tens of millions of dollars.
In fact, Johnny claims that he only realised he was facing financial ruin when TMG advised him to sell a large piece of property to pay his debts.
But this is Hollywood, so the drama is being played out before the courts: TMG are counter-suing, alleging that Johnny’s real problem was that he was spending like a drunken pirate … to the tune of $2 million a month.
How do you burn through so much coin?
Well, Johnny spent $3 million blasting Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon, he spent $400,000 chartering a private jet to save his handbag dogs (Pistol and Boo) from Barnaby ‘I’ll Kill Yer Dogs’ Joyce, and he spent $300,000 a month on wages for his 40-person entourage. And that’s just the start.
In their submission to the court, Johnny’s managers sounded like me answering one of my Q&As:
“Depp, and Depp alone, is fully responsible for any financial turmoil he finds himself in today. He has refused to live within his means, despite the best efforts of TMG and the repeated warnings about his financial condition from TMG and his other advisors.”
“Depp often responded by rebuking and cursing his managers for issuing such warnings and advice, while increasing his extravagant lifestyle and spending, and demanding that his managers find some way to pay for it all.”
Okay, let’s pause the movie.
What did Johnny do wrong?
One thing, obviously, is that he spent more than he earned. It doesn’t matter whether your income is $20 million a year or $20,000: if you overspend you’ll end up pretty much the same way — being forced to dress up like a pirate to entertain kids.
Yet Johnny’s real failing was his decision to outsource control of his money to someone else.
(Seriously, it’s as if he’s never read a celebrity biography … Johnny, it always ends the same — the manager rips them off, bro! The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Freddie Mercury. Charlie and his Chocolate Factory. The list goes on.)
That’s a lesson for you and me, too.
You should never, ever pass over full control of your money to anyone.
Not to your financial advisor, not to your accountant, not even to your husband, your wife, or a trusted friend.
You should always know exactly where your money is, and be able to explain clearly why it’s there.
I worked with an AFL star who told me about a small business that someone had advised him to invest in.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked.
“Money just isn’t my thing”, he shrugged.
“Well, you betta make it your thing”, I told him.
Thankfully, some big stars get it.
In a recent interview, Australian Open winner Serena Williams said that early in her career she made a decision that she wouldn’t become another statistic: “I’m an athlete and I’m black, and a lot of black athletes go broke.”
So she went to see the richest black woman she knew — Oprah — and asked her for money advice.
Here’s what Oprah told her:
“You sign every cheque. Never let anyone sign any cheques.”
Tread Your Own Path!