Cannes (France) (AFP) – Johnny Depp hit back on Wednesday against years of negative press, telling the Cannes Film Festival 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 said 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.
“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.”
Depp lost his part in the Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts” films after his ex-wife Amber Heard accused him of domestic abuse.
“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”.
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”.
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.
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.”