What was the first thing Johnny Depp thought about after the Sept. 11 tragedy? His year-old daughter, Lily-Rose Melody. "You turn away from the TV set and look at your child and imagine what the families of the victims must be feeling, the loss they're dealing with," the actor tells TV Guide Online. "I think about the future of my baby and all our children. What's growing up going to be like for them? What kind of life will they have facing a war with such an uncertain end? The entire world has changed and it will never be the same again."

Depp admits his own universe was drastically altered in May 1999, when Lily-Rose was born. "When I look at my daughter, it's like having a fog lifted from in front of my eyes that was there for 35 years," he says of his only child with French actress Vanessa Paradis. "For the first time, you understand why you have a reason to live. She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen — a pure angel. We do all the classic stuff together from swings and sand boxes to painting."

One father-daughter activity Depp and Lily-Rose won't be participating in anytime soon: Attending a screening of his latest project, the dark thriller From Hell (opening Friday). The film finds the star of Sleepy Hollow and Blow playing a Scotland Yard investigator hot on the trail of Jack the Ripper in 18th-century London. "I guess he was the first serial killer who was elevated to celebrity status," he says. "I've been fascinated with him since I seven or eight and saw a documentary."

Despite the grisly subject matter, Depp says sibling directors Albert and Allen Hughes (Menace II Society) kept things light on the set. "They were playing 'Big Pimpin' by Jay-Z and a lot of other rap stuff," he recalls with a chuckle. "We were shooting in Prague and the Czech crew thought we were a little crazy when [co-star] Heather Graham and I started dancing around the set."