Johnny Depp made a rare public appearance at the Cannes press conference for “Jeanne du Barry,” a costume drama that opened the 76th edition of the film festival. The movie marks the actor’s first leading role in three years, following his high-profile legal battles with ex-wife Amber Heard. As he reemerged into the limelight, Depp appears to have mixed feelings about his years-long absence from Hollywood films.
“Did I feel boycotted by Hollywood? You’d have to not have a pulse to feel like, ‘No. None of this is happening. It’s a weird joke,’” he told the press on Wednesday. “When you’re asked to resign from a film you’re doing because of something that is merely a function of vowels and consonants floating in the air, yes, you feel boycotted.”
Depp was presumably referring to a sequel to the “Harry Potter” spinoff series “Fantastic Beasts,” which he stepped away from in 2020. By exiting the Warner Bros. film amid PR headaches, the A-list star responsible for more than $10 billion in worldwide box office gave up an eight-figure salary.
He then continued, “I don’t feel boycotted by Hollywood, because I don’t think about Hollywood. It’s a strange, funny time where everybody would love to be able to be themselves, but they can’t. They must fall in line with the person in front of them. If you want to live that life, I wish you the best.”
Depp’s legal battles culminated in a defamation trial won by the actor in the U.S., in which Heard was ordered to pay him $10 million in damages. He previously lost a 2020 U.K. libel case involving Heard’s abuse allegations, causing his forced exit from 2022’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.” Not everyone parted ways with the actor in the wake of his myriad controversies. Dior, the French luxury fashion house, stood by the embattled star and signed him to a massive $20 million-plus deal, the largest pact ever in men’s fragrance.
Though Heard’s name was never directly mentioned at the press conference, his legal battle with her continued to crop up. When asked by a Variety reporter what he would say to those who think he should not attend Cannes due to his past legal issues, Depp offered a hypothetical.
“What if one day they did not allow me — under no circumstances, no matter what — [that] I cannot go to McDonald’s for life because somewhere if you got them all in one room it’d be 39 angry people watching me eat a Big Mac on a loop just for fun,” he said. “Who are they? Why do they care? Some kind of species, some tower of mashed potatoes, covering the light on their computer screen. Anonymous. With apparently less free time. I don’t think we should be worried. People should really think about what it’s all about. Really.“
Earlier in the press conference, Depp also spoke about his disdain of the media, who intensely covered his trials with Heard and fallout from Hollywood. “The majority of what you read is fantastically, horrifically written fiction. It’s like asking the question: ‘How are you doing?’ But the subtext is, ‘God, I hate you.’”
He also dismissed the idea that Cannes marks his “comeback” to film. “I’ve had my 17th comeback, apparently,” he said. “I keep wondering about the word ‘comeback.’ I didn’t go anywhere…Maybe people stopped calling out of whatever their fear was at the time. But I didn’t go nowhere.”
Depp was more than 40 minutes late to the press conference for “Jeanne du Barry” because he was stuck in traffic, forcing the event to start 27 minutes behind schedule and without him.