Actor Johnny Depp dismissed years of negative press over his tumultuous marriage to Amber Heard, telling the 2023 Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, 17 May, that most of the stories about him were “fantastically, horrifically written fiction”. Speaking to reporters a day after the premiere of his new film Jeanne du Barry on the festival’s opening night, he insisted he did not care about being boycotted by Hollywood.

“Do I feel boycotted now? No ‘coz I don’t think about Hollywood, I don’t have much need for Hollywood,” said the actor. Depp lost his role in the Harry Potter spin-off films, Fantastic Beasts, after his ex-wife Amber Heard accused him of domestic abuse.

“It’s a very strange, funny time where everyone must fall into line,” he added. “If you want to live that kind of life, I wish you the best. I’ll be on the other side.”

Premiere of Jeanne du Barry at 2023 Cannes Film Festival

Jeanne du Barry, in which Depp plays French King Louis XV, who fell in love with a prostitute, received a seven-minute standing ovation, as is customary for opening night films.

Depp received a warm welcome from fans on the red carpet, taking selfies and signing autographs, and teared up during the ovation at the end.

But there was also widespread vitriol online from supporters of Heard. Journalist Eve Barlow, a friend of the actress, accused Cannes of having a “history (of) supporting rapists and abusers”.

johnny depp jeanne du barry cannes film festival 2023
Johnny Depp became a global megastar playing off-beat characters from Willy Wonka to Captain Jack Sparrow, until his destructive off-screen lifestyle threatened to permanently derail his career. (Image: Loic Venance/ AFP)

Depp won a defamation trial against Heard last year but lost a previous libel case in London and remains a toxic figure for many. The 59-year-old actor dismissed the years of newspaper coverage as the “stuff you stuff in your shoes or line your parrot cage with”.

Mixed reception to the movie

2023 cannes film festival johnny depp jeanne du barry
French actress and director Maiwenn (L) poses with US actor Johnny Depp during a photocall for the film Jeanne Du Barry during the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. (Image: Valery Hache/ AFP)

Reviews of the film itself were mixed, with The Guardian saying Depp gave a “purring and peculiar” performance.

Depp speaks French throughout and said he was stunned when director Maiwenn, who also plays the lead role, asked him to join the film.

“I thought it was very brave of her to choose a hillbilly from Kentucky as Louis XV,” said Depp, who lives much of the year in France.

He avoided any long lines in the film, but worked with a French speaking coach to perfect his accent. “She made me stretch my mouth into weird places, but I still like her,” he said.

Maiwenn, who herself may face criminal proceedings after grabbing the hair of a Paris journalist and spitting in his face, said she had no doubts about choosing Depp for the role.

“It was someone I had to kiss, so I preferred to have an actor who is sexy,” she told reporters. “And he knew an enormous amount about French history. He knew a lot more than me about Louis XV.”

This story was published via AFP News

(Main and featured image: Valery Hache/ AFP)