Johnny Depp went on the record today saying that he is a victim of cancel culture and that “no one is safe” from the movement, calling on people to “stand up” for people facing “injustice”.
“It can be seen as an event in history that lasted for however long it lasted, this cancel culture, this instant rush to judgement based on what essentially amounts to polluted air,” he commented ahead of receiving the honorary Donostia Award at this year’s San Sebastian Film Festival.
“It’s so far out of hand now that I can promise you that no one is safe. Not one of you. No one out that door. No one is safe,” he continued. “It takes one sentence and there’s no more ground, the carpet has been pulled. It’s not just me that this has happened to, it’s happened to a lot of people. This type of thing has happened to women, men. Sadly at a certain point they begin to think that it’s normal. Or that it’s them. When it’s not.”
In what appeared to be a reference to his high-profile libel case with UK newspaper The Sun over its branding of him as a “wife-beater”, which he lost last year, Depp said, “It doesn’t matter if a judgement, per se, has taken some artistic license. When there’s an injustice, whether it’s against you or someone you love, or someone you believe in – stand up, don’t sit down. ‘Cause they need you.”
Fallout from the UK verdict included Warner Bros dropping Depp from its Fantastic Beasts franchise. The star has a blockbuster $50M defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard scheduled to go to trial in the U.S. next year; Heard is pursuing a $100M counterclaim. More on that here.
Depp was fairly low-energy during today’s press conference but seemed willing to engage with attending journalists, clapping everyone in the room when he arrived, and didn’t appear to have an issue with addressing sensitive topics, which tend to dog the actor at this stage in his career.
The festival, however, was having none of it. The next question from press addressed the criticism of the fest for handing Depp a Donostia, particularly from Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media, which released a statement saying the award “transmits a terrible message to the public”.
Before Depp could open his mouth in response, the host of the conference rejected the question out of hand and told press in the room to stick to questions about the actor’s career.
Depp later admitted that he was “worried” that his presence at the festival this year “would offend people” and that he “didn’t want to offend anyone”. He praised the event, its director Jose Luis Rebordinos, and the mayor of San Sebastian for their “undying support” and for “not buying what has been, for far too long, some notion of me that doesn’t exist”.
“I haven’t done anything, I just make movies,” Depp added.
The actor was allowed to respond to a question about his view on the film biz in 2021. “Hollywood is certainly not what it was,” he responded. “The studio system, the grudge matches, the pandemonium and chaos of cinematic releases to streaming… it is a case of, ‘no matter what, I’m going to get mine’. That’s where these people are coming from.”
“They realize they’re just a disposable as I am. Some more so,” he continued. “Large, large corporations take control of these things. As someone who takes part in the creation of cinema, how much more formula do we need from the likes of studios? How much more condescension do we need as audiences? I think that Hollywood has grotesquely underestimated the audience.”
It was evident during the presser that the room was filled with Depp fans. Indeed, the actor’s reputation seems to have taken less of a hit in many European countries, in comparison with the U.S. and UK (where of course he still has plenty of fans).
At one point, he was asked about the future of his famed role Captain Jack Sparrow, with Depp responding that the character would never leave him, and that no one could ever take the character away from him. Depp then delivered an impromptu Jack Sparrow rendition on the stage, much to the delight of the attending crowd.