updated 01/18/2012 AT 1:40 PM ET
•originally published 01/19/2012 AT 11:00 AM ET
These days, they may be living separate lives in Los Angeles. But there was a time – not too long ago – when Johnny Depp and girlfriend Vanessa Paradis lit up red carpets and glamorous Hollywood events together.
In fact, in June 2009 at his Public Enemies premiere in London, Depp recalls fondly when he first laid eyes on the French actress, answering an interviewer’s question about whether or not he believes in love at first sight.
“Yeah,” Depp said at the time. “We’ve been together for about 11 years and we have two children. [At the time], I saw her back about 30 yards away. I saw her back and her neck. [She] turned around suddenly and looked at me – and I was stupefied.”
The actor, who has famously morphed into an eclectic array of characters over his career, also praised his family for their patience with him while he made his films.
“My family have seen more of my movies than I have,” Depp said at a press conference for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2010. “They’ve been angels through the process.”
Depp, 48, and Paradis, 39, are parents to Lily-Rose, 12, and Jack, 9. The couple have not appeared on a red carpet together for more than a year, and sources tell PEOPLE the couple of nearly 14 years has split.
Says one insider: “It’s so sad.”
For much more on this story, including details on Depp’s solo nights out, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday