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Inside Johnny Depp's Busy Return to the Spotlight



Watch: See Johnny Depp Make His Return to Cannes Film Festival

As far as Johnny Depp‘s long and storied career is concerned, the last few years haven’t exactly been, shall we say…good.

The three-time Oscar nominee’s personal reputation took a pummeling in courts on two continents and theatergoers haven’t seen his face in wide release since 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, his second appearance in a franchise that later traded him in for Mads Mikkelsen.

So, the 2023 Cannes Film Festival’s decision to open with the world premiere of Depp’s latest movie, the historical drama Jeanne du Barry, inevitably served as a litmus test to see where public opinion was when it came to the actor being spotlighted at a major red carpet event.

“He is very proud of the film, the reception and the support he’s received from his fans,” a source close to Depp tells E! News. “Cannes was great, he took the time with everybody, engaging with fans on the street. Johnny takes it all very seriously and was very professional.”

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Indeed, a horde of spectators showed up to cheer his arrival—a familiar scene for the actor, whose passionate fan base could only be matched if the Beyhive and Swifties joined forces and were dosed with gamma rays.

But it wasn’t business as usual. And Depp, who’s turning 60 on June 9, was aware that his devotion to his craft hasn’t exactly been top of mind lately.

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

“It’s not my tide we’re discussing,” he said with a little laugh at a May 17 press conference when asked whether he still felt boycotted by Hollywood or if he sensed the tide was turning in his favor again.

The night before, a seven-minute standing ovation—for his return to the big screen as much as his performance as King Louis XV—had left him misty-eyed.

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“You’d have to not have a pulse to feel, at that point,” he continued, “to feel like, ‘No, none of this is happening, this is actually kind of a weird joke. You’ve been asleep for 35 years, so just let the weirdness commence.’ Of course, when you’re asked to resign from a film 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.”

But now, he added, “I don’t feel boycotted by Hollywood because I don’t think about it…I don’t have much further need for Hollywood myself.”

Residentially speaking, he’s been enjoying a mellow life in the English countryside. “I can go into shops without being surrounded by people wanting selfies,” he said in the April issue of Somerset Life. He clarified, “I don’t mind if people want an autograph or a brief chat, but not when I am having some private time with my family. British people are cool and will greet you as if you are a neighbor without going over the top.”

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Depp had previously pointed to “Hollywood’s boycott” of him as the reason his film Minamata wasn’t initially released in the U.S., lamenting to the U.K.’s Sunday Times Magazine in 2021 that the whole production had suffered because of “one man, one actor in an unpleasant and messy situation, over the last number of years?”

The movie, based on a true story about a photojournalist who uncovered a humanitarian crisis in 1970s Japan, was eventually released domestically in February 2022 and placed third in the 2022 Oscars Fan Favorite contest—ahead of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which grossed nearly $2 billion worldwide.


But the aura around Depp has arguably never been the same since Amber Heard‘s abuse allegations against him went public during their 2016 divorce proceedings. He denied the accusations and his life theoretically went on, though their messy breakup clouded the premiere that year of Alice Through the Looking Glass and what was supposed to be his awesome-news-for-all cameo in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Warner Bros.

A judge signed off on their divorce in January 2017. Two years later, Depp filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard over a 2018 op-Ed she wrote for the Washington Post that didn’t name him but in which she referred to herself as having been a “public figure representing domestic abuse” (not the first piece of writing she’d done in that vein, either). She countersued for $100 million.

In November 2020, Depp lost a separate libel suit in the U.K. after a British judge decided The Sun tabloid hadn’t defamed the actor by calling him a “wife beater.” His exit from the Fantastic Beasts franchise was announced days later and then his request to appeal that verdict was denied in March 2021.

And yet, peak-circus was still to come.

Viral Moments From Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Defamation Trial

The first half of 2022 was dominated by the defamation trial that aimed to bring the war of words rejuvenated by the 2018 Post piece to a close and ended up becoming must-see-TV as the devolution of their relationship was illustrated in painstaking detail.

After seven weeks of at-times surreal testimony in a Virginia courtroom, the jury decided that each side had been wronged—though Depp was deemed the victor, as he was awarded $15 million (quickly reduced to $10 million, per state law regarding punitive damages) to Heard’s $2 million. They both appealed and ultimately settled in December, Heard (who called it a “very difficult decision”) agreeing to pay her ex $1 million—which Depp said he’d donate to various charities—and he no longer had to pay her anything.

While most people were left wondering why either of them chose to submit to that dissection of their private lives, favorable judgment or not, both maintained that they wanted the truth to come out.

Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Depp—who reiterated to reporters at Cannes that the majority of what they’d read about him over the past six years was “fantastically, horrifically written fiction”—pressed on, finding that many arms remained wide open, even if a few doors had slammed in his face.

After the June 1, 2022, verdict, the enduring face of Dior’s Sauvage toured with guitar legend Jeff Beck and then shot Jeanne du Barry—which, incidentally, was picked up by Vertical for North American distribution, according to Variety, and has made more than $4.1 million at the French box office during two weeks in theaters after its Cannes premiere.

Lily-Rose Depp, whose HBO series The Idol was the first-ever TV show to premiere at Cannes, said she was “super happy” for her dad, the 24-year-old telling Entertainment Tonight it was “so awesome that we get to do projects that we’re super proud of.”

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Meanwhile, Depp called the notion that he was in the midst of a “comeback” a “bizarre mystery.”

Francois Durand/Getty Images for Christian Dior

“I keep wondering about the word ‘comeback,’ because I didn’t go anywhere,” he said at Cannes. “I live about 45 minutes away from here, in fact. Maybe people stopped calling—out of whatever their fear was at the time—but I didn’t go nowhere. I’ve been sitting around. ‘Comeback’ is almost like I’m going to come out and do a tap dance—dance my best and hope you approve.”

After the festival, Depp flew to London to perform at an all-star tribute to Beck, who died in January, at Royal Albert Hall. He had to cancel some U.S. shows while he nursed an ankle fracture that worsened during all the tromping around at Cannes, but has resumed touring with his rock super-group Hollywood Vampires, and their next stop is Istanbul for a June 10 performance benefiting the Disasters Emergency Committee.

After their summer tour, according to the Depp source, he’ll be directing his first movie in more than 25 years, a feature starring Al Pacino that’s expected to get rolling in the fall.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

“This year has been packed with a great mix of all the things he loves to do including directing, acting and performing,” the source said. “Johnny is feeling energized by all these projects.”

Though he sensed reporters’ ulterior motives while they were ostensibly gathered to talk about a film—”It’s like asking a question, ‘How are you doing?’ But what’s underneath, in the subtext, is ‘God I hate you’”—Depp noted at Cannes what a “miracle” it was to get any movie made in this day and age. “You win right there.”

All that other noise, he added, “I mean, it’s boring, isn’t it? You guys sick of it by now? It’s weird.”

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Source: Eonline

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