Johnny Depp in Cannes: ‘What You’ve Been Reading About Me Is Fantastically, Horrifically Written Fiction’

Cannes 2023: “I don’t have much further need for Hollywood, myself,” the actor also said at a press conference

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp

At the Cannes Film Festival on behalf of the film “Jeanne du Barry” on Wednesday, Johnny Depp hit back at critics on who suggested the festival shouldn’t have welcomed him on the heels of accusations that he abused his ex-wife, Amber Heard. “Everything that the majority of you have been reading for the last five or six years with regard to me and my life is fantastically, horrifically written fiction,” Depp said at a press conference for “Jeanne du Barry,” in which he stars as 18th-century French King Louis XV.

The actor arrived at 12:42 for the press conference, which was scheduled to begin at noon but was delayed until 12:26. For the first 15 minutes, director Maiwenn and other cast members spoke about the period drama, in which Maiwenn also stars as the title character, a working-class courtesan who became the favorite of the King.  

Johnny Depp Jeanne du Barry
Johnny Depp in “Jeanne du Barry” (Cannes Film Festival)

But when Depp showed up, the final half hour of the session focused squarely on him, his standing in Hollywood and his return in “Jeanne du Barry,” the first high-profile film he’s made since the bitter court case with Heard that found the jury finding fault with both sides but largely siding with Depp.

Asked if he felt boycotted by Hollywood, Depp conceded that he had. “Did I feel boycotted by Hollywood?” he asked. “Well, you have to not have a pulse at that point to feel like, ‘No, none of this is happening, this is just kind of a weird joke, you’ve been asleep for 35 years.’ Of course, when you’re asked to resign from a film that you’re doing because of something that is merely a bunch of vowels and consonants floating in the air, yeah, you feel a bit boycotted.”

He paused. “Do I feel boycotted now? No, not at all. But I don’t feel boycotted by Hollywood because I don’t think about it. I don’t think about Hollywood. I don’t have much further need for Hollywood myself … It’s a very strange, funny time when everybody would love to be themselves, but they can’t because they must fall in line with the person in front of them. If you want to live that kind of life, be my guest. I’ll be on the other side somewhere.”

Depp also addressed the circus-like nature of the Cannes Film Festival, which he said he first came to in the early 1990s “by accident” with Bosnian director Emir Kusturica. “It was an absolute circus like nothing I’d ever seen,” he said. “It remains the same. I think that’s very good. Different faces, same actions, same everything.”

As for the way that “circus” steers the conversation to things that have nothing to do with the films at the festival – in his case, turning attention to his personal life – he shrugged. “You believe what you believe,” he said. “The truth is the truth. As far as it being a positive or a negative to the film, all these abstract whispers – maybe people talk about the film in this way or they talk about your work in a certain way, but the fact is, we’re all here because we made  a film.

“Everything that the majority of you have been reading for the last five or six years with regard to me and my life, the majority of what you read is fantastically, horrifically written fiction. It’slike asking the question, ‘How are you doing?’ but what’s underneath, the subtext, is ‘God, I hate you.’ Do you know what I mean? That’s the media thing. The focus should be that you made a film you care about. That should be the real focus. And all the stuff that you can stuff your shoes with or line your parrot cage with, it’s boring, isn’t it? Aren’t you guys sick of it by now?”

The Cannes press was not, of course, sick of it, because the next question dealt with what Depp would say to those who think he should not be at the festival.

“We’re talking theoretically about what would I do if there were people who didn’t want me to come to the Cannes Film Festival?” he said, and then asked his own rhetorical question. “What if one day they did not allow me, no matter what, I cannot go to McDonalds for life, because somewhere, if you got them all in one room, there’d be 39 angry people watching me eat a Big Mac? Who are they? Why do they care?” In a rambling way, he compared his online critics to  “some kind of … species, some tower of mashed potatoes covering the lines of computer screens, anonymous, with apparently lots of spare time. I don’t think I’m the one who should be worried. People should really think about what it’s all about, really.”

Finally, he was asked if he saw a comparison between himself and his character, who was hounded by the court of Versailles for his choice of Jeanne du Barry to be at his side. “I would think that pretty much anybody could make a similar kind of personal comparison,” he said. “You can apply your own experiences to anything and everything that you do.”