Johnny Depp hasn’t been seen in a major Hollywood film since Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in 2018. In 2023, the controversial actor will be given his most prominent role since the creatively and commercially failed Harry Potter prequel. Depp stars in the historical epic Jeanne du Barry, which opened the 2023 Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday. His comeback to the big screen on such a prestigious venue has already sparked criticism – here’s all you need to know about the dispute around Depp’s appearance at Cannes, glamsquad reports
Depp hasn’t exactly been idle between The Crimes of Grindelwald and Jeanne du Barry. He and his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, squared off in a Virginia courtroom for six weeks last year in one of the most keenly followed celebrity trials ever. Depp had sued Heard for defamation for a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she claimed she was the victim of sexual and physical violence. During the tense trial, both singers took the stand, and their opposing testimonies were scrutinized by lawyers in the courtroom, media experts, and social media admirers.
The trial concluded on June 1, 2022, with the jury finding in Depp’s favor – a shocking decision that prompted some to wonder if the achievements achieved during the #MeToo movement had been squandered. Depp was granted a total of $15 million in damages, while Heard earned $2 million for her counterclaim. After considering several post-trial options, the two camps struck an agreement in December. Following the settlement, Heard turned to Instagram to announce that she had “lost faith in the American legal system,” but that she would still use her voice to “effect change.”
The protracted, bitter legal battle had an impact on both actors’ careers: Depp was relieved of his Fantastic Beasts franchise duties, replaced by Mads Mikkelsen for the third film in the series, 2022’s The Secrets of Dumbledore, and has since only appeared in international films such as Waiting for the Barbarians and Minamata. Meanwhile, Heard will still feature in the DC Studios sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, albeit the extent of her role remains unknown. During and after the trial, Heard loudly criticized the actress’s treatment on social media.
“Even if you think I’m deserving of all this hate and vitriol, even if you think I’m lying, you couldn’t tell me — look me in the eyes and tell me — that you think there’s been a fair representation on social media,” Heard told Today in June. “You cannot tell me that you believe this is fair.”
The Crisis Point
Depp’s role in Jeanne du Barry was initially confirmed in January 2022, and the film began filming in July, following the trial. The film, directed by and starring Mawenn Le Besco, follows the scandalous lives and times of King Louis XV’s mistress as she rises to power in his court just before the French Revolution destabilizes the monarchy. Jeanne du Barry was chosen as the opening night showing for the 2023 Cannes Film Festival in April, and festival director Thierry Fremaux has vehemently defended the choice.
“I’m not sure about Johnny Depp’s image in the United States,” Fremaux recently stated at a pre-Cannes press conference. “To tell you the truth, in my life, I only have one rule: the freedom of thought, speech, and action within a legal framework.”
Brie Larson, a Cannes jury member, was more lukewarm about Depp’s attendance at the festival. During a jury news conference, the Room Oscar winner declined to say if she’d attend the Jeanne du Barry premiere — though attendance isn’t required for jury members because the film isn’t contending for the festival’s prized top prize, the Palme d’Or.
In fact, Larson seemed to imply that she might not see the picture at all. “You’ll see, I guess, if I see it,” she added. “And I’m not sure how I’ll feel if I do.” (Larson has repeatedly spoken out in support of the #MeToo movement, and famously declined to applaud Casey Affleck after his Best Actor win at the 2017 Academy Awards due to news of sexual harassment claims against the actor.)
Larson was eventually pictured at the Cannes premiere of Jeanne du Barry, though it’s unknown whether she saw the film. Depp’s admirers were also out in force when he arrived to walk the red carpet, and the actor posed for photographs with the audience.
The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” played over speakers as the cast posed for photos.
Depp reportedly received a seven-minute standing ovation as he entered the theater to take his seat.
— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) May 16, 2023