Hollywood icon Johnny Depp is determined not to let his tumultuous legal battles with ex-wife Amber Heard define his legacy. Speaking at the esteemed Cannes Film Festival, where he marked his triumphant return, Depp urged people not to pass judgment based on the high-profile controversies that have plagued his personal life.
In the past year, Depp faced a highly publicized defamation lawsuit after a US jury ruled in his favor, declaring Heard had defamed him in an article where she identified herself as a victim of abuse. Meanwhile, a UK court upheld the accuracy of an earlier article branding Depp a “wife beater.” The actor’s appearance at Cannes, starring as Louis XV in the French film Jeanne du Barry, is widely regarded as his major comeback following the fallout from the legal battles.
During an interview with Tom Brook of BBC’s Talking Movies, Depp expressed, “Comeback is a weird thing because… I didn’t go anywhere. People may have made sure that I was not looked at favorably – powerful press, powerful media, for whatever reasons.”
The conflicting accounts of Depp and Heard’s turbulent five-year relationship were exposed in courtrooms on both sides of the Atlantic, with allegations of misbehavior and violence from each party. Depp vehemently denied the claims of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse made by his ex-wife. Following the defamation case loss in 2022 over Heard’s article for the Washington Post, she expressed her disillusionment with the US justice system.
Challenging his critics, Depp urged individuals to reflect on their own family members before casting judgment on him. He suggested that people take a day off from work, investigate those closest to them, including fathers, uncles, and brothers, before making uninformed judgments on others who have faced trials they know nothing about.
As Depp’s courtroom battles reached their peak, his future in the film industry seemed uncertain. However, as he arrived at the Cannes premiere of his latest film, he was met with an enthusiastic crowd of fans seeking autographs and selfies. Jeanne du Barry, directed by Maïwenn, tells the compelling story of a poverty-stricken woman who becomes the final mistress of the French king. While the film received a standing ovation, critics have offered lukewarm assessments, suggesting that Depp appeared somewhat uncomfortable in his role.
Despite the inclusion of Depp’s film at Cannes, supporters of Heard criticized the decision, spawning the hashtag #CannesYouNot on social media. Festival director Thierry Fremaux staunchly defended the film’s inclusion, while many welcomed Depp’s long-awaited return to the spotlight.
Addressing his controversial status, Depp acknowledged being considered controversial throughout his career. He added, “But things go in whatever direction they go, more than anything all the weirdness has been cleared up, so it’s done. I’m certainly not gonna allow this thing to define anything that I’ve done before, anything that I’m doing now or what I’m going to do – it doesn’t exist for me.”
In the US state of Virginia, a jury ruled in Depp’s favor, awarding him $15 million (£12 million) in compensation and punitive damages in the defamation case against Heard. Although the Aquaman actress settled the suit for $1 million (£820,000), she maintained that it was not an act of concession, expressing her reluctance to endure another trial even if her US appeal were successful.
Johnny Depp’s resilience and determination to move forward shine through as he resolutely dismisses the notion of allowing his personal battles to overshadow his acclaimed career in the world of entertainment.