OSCAR nominee Johnny Depp was such a heavy boozer during his twenties - he feared he would never make it to 30.

The hunky actor, who recently turned 40, admits his binge drinking was at its worst when he shot WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE? - and he remains thankful he survived to become a devoted dad.

Depp tells the new issue of Playboy, "There were drugs, too - pills - and there was a danger that I would go over the edge. I could have. I thank God I didn't.

"I was never a cokehead or anything like that. 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 to numb things.

"I was trying not to feel things, and that's ridiculous. It's one of the dumbest things you can do, because all you're doing is postponing the inevitable... It's how I dealt with life, reality, stress, change, sadness, memories. The list goes on. I was really trying to feel nothing."

Depp quit boozing when he realised how miserable his conduct was making his family and friends.

He adds, "Family and friends sat me down and said, 'Listen, we love you. You're important to us, and you're f**king up. You're killing yourself, and you're killing us in the process.' At a certain point they intervened."

11/04/2004 20:59