What on earth is Johnny Depp (search) doing in a Disney movie?

It wasn't that long ago he was Hollywood's favorite bad boy, a regular fixture in the tabloids.

He got arrested for smashing up a New York hotel room in 1994.

Five years later, he swung at a London paparazzo with a board.

And he regularly romanced Hollywood's hottest women, including Jennifer Grey, Kate Moss, Sherilyn Fenn and Winona Ryder. After breaking up with Ryder, he had the "Winona Forever" tattoo on his arm changed to "Wino Forever."

But after a two-year absence from the screen, the star of From Hell and Sleepy Hollow is now making family-friendly fare - Pirates of the Caribbean (opening Friday), a PG-13 film based on a ride at Disney World.

What happened?

"I settled down," says Depp, who now lives (relatively) quietly in Paris and St. Tropez with his longtime partner, French pop star Vanessa Paradis, 30, and their two children, 4-year-old Lily-Rose and 1-year-old Jack.

"I just love those movies, so when the pirate idea came around, I thought it would be great," he says. "But you have to understand, over the last few years, I have been watching mostly animated films."

The man who created the Viper Room, L.A.'s hottest club of the '90s, now parties at home with his family.

"It was a calm evening," Depp recalls of his 40th birthday celebration last month. "Dinner with my girl and the kiddies and my sister and some friends - plus a couple bottles of wine."

In the old days, Depp might have downed two or three bottles himself. He has described himself as an "expensive wino" and once spent more than $16,000 on a 1978 Romanee-Conti Burgundy in a London restaurant.

But all that changed when Lily was born.

"Kiddies give me everything - great strength, perspective and calm," he says.

"Things that would have made me upset and angry about Hollywood in the past, I now can say, 'Piss on that!' Because I'm going to play Barbies with my daughter."

For a few years, Depp played with Lily more than he made movies.

Still, Depp admits, "I have to bring home the bacon," which means we'll be soon seeing a lot more of him.

Next May, he'll hit screens in J.M. Barrie's Neverland, about the Scottish creator of Peter Pan, and next June he'll appear in Secret Window, Secret Garden, based on a Stephen King novella.

Depp may have abandoned his playboy ways, but he's as quirky as ever.

Saying pirates were "the rock and roll stars of their times," he based his character in Pirates, Captain Jack Sparrow, on his elegantly wasted pal, the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards - as well as that amorous French skunk from Looney Tunes cartoons, Pepe Le Pew.

Last week, he showed up for Pirates press events wearing the gold teeth he wore in the film, with his wrists wrapped in brightly colored chiffon handkerchiefs and three gold and silver rings on his tattooed hands.

And on a recent trip from Peru to Florida, Depp was stopped by airport customs with a bag full of stuffed piranhas and vampire bats - the latest additions to his home taxidermy collection.

The guard also found a white powder all over Depp's luggage, but it turned out to be a vitamin, not cocaine.

These days, Depp is more dad than bad. But his wild past gives him an odd view of child development.

"When kids hit 1 year old," he told David Letterman last week, "it's like hanging out with a miniature drunk. You have to hold onto them. They bump into things. They laugh and cry. They urinate. They vomit."

Like father, like daughter - well, once upon a time.