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Rebel, lost soul, playboy, Hollywood wild man. Johnny Depp has been labeled all of them and more in a 15-year movie career littered with broken hearts, hell-raising and quirky screen roles.

But at the grand old age of 36, Depp has embraced the oldest cliche of them all -- proud new father -- with the birth of Lilly-Rose Melody Depp.

"I've been pretty lost, transient, unstable. I've been all kinds of things. But she has given me life, whereas before it's been life but something's missing," Depp said.

Three months ago Depp's latest lover, French former pop singer Vanessa Paradis, gave birth to a baby girl. For Depp, it was an event that ended his days as one of life's outsiders.

"If I felt lost before I don't feel lost now, especially since becoming a father and the birth of my baby girl. That maybe is the one thing that finally put me on the map. It just puts a flag in the earth for you, finally," he said.

"As one does when one becomes a dad, you become all the cliches that you feared for 36 years. You become that guy who says, 'I just had a baby' and pulls a picture out of his wallet."

Hold on. Wait a minute. Not so fast, please.

Is this sensitive "new man" the angry celebrity who just six months ago was arrested in London after a fracas with a photographer? Or the bounder who bonded with Marlon Brando thanks to a whoopee cushion? Or who infamously trashed a New York apartment in 1994? Apparently so.

Depp is as much an enigma as the cast of offbeat characters he has brought to life with much critical acclaim but rare box office success. With his languorous drawl and mysterious eyes, the high school dropout easily could have made a career as a teen idol. But after falling into acting in 1984, after an earlier fling playing guitar with a rock band, he eschewed romantic leads for a series of loners and misfits.

"I don't particularly feel like I fit in. But who does? And if you do, I'm scared of you," the star of "Edward Scissorhands" said.

Depp's latest venture, the psychological thriller "The Astronaut's Wife," which opened last weekend, has him again playing a man who is not what he seems. He is an American hero, an astronaut who appears to have it all but may in fact be living a lie with the power to destroy humanity.

"With all of us I think there is more to it than meets the eye. I like the idea that on the surface this guy was a charming, healthy all-American guy but at the very seed of his being he is sort of a vicious animal," Depp said.

"The Astronaut's Wife" is the first of two movies starring Depp following the 1998 box office flop "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," based on the Hunter S. Thompson novel. The Kentucky-born actor will also be seen in "Sleepy Hollow" in November and in Roman Polanski's thriller "The Ninth Gate," to be released next year.

Depp is as much a celebrity offscreen as on thanks to an unpredictable temper and a string of famous former girlfriends including British supermodel Kate Moss, actress Winona Ryder and "Dirty Dancing" star Jennifer Grey.

For more than a year, he has been dogged by a tabloid press cynical about his affair with Para-dis and agog at a night on the town in London in February when he reportedly paid 11,000 pounds sterling ($17,600) for a single bottle of French wine.

In his more philosophical moments, Depp shrugs off the unwelcome attentions of the press as merely part of the job.

"That part of life is odd no matter where you go. It is just an occupational hazard. It is never going to be very comfortable. It is not a nice feeling to be a novelty or some kind of trinket in people's eyes," he said.

Doting dad he may be, but he is still some way off being reformed. Marriage to Paradis is not something he is prepared to discuss, and except when he is near his daughter, cigarettes are one bad habit he is not yet ready to renounce.

"I still smoke like a chimney. I definitely don't smoke around my daughter. . . . I suppose it's possible that at some point I'll say, 'I'm 40, maybe I'll give these things up.' It's possible."

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