Johnny Depp made his first public appearance since his highly publicized defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. The actor had an emotional comeback, as fans left him in tears.

The international film festival’s opening night on Tuesday began with the premiere of Depp’s upcoming movie, the French biographical drama Jeanne Du Barry, in which he stars as King Louis XV. Following the screening, the film received a seven-minute-long standing ovation, which left the Oscar nominee fighting back tears as he waved to the applauding audience at the Grand Théâtre Lumière.


French actress Maïwenn, who both directed and starred alongside Depp, also had an emotionally tearful response.

“I want to share this moment with my lover, with my producer, with Le Pacte,” she said. “It was a production that was difficult to finance … and I want to share this moment with all my team across the theater.”

Despite the hundreds of adoring fans who showed up to the annual film festival with supportive signs and autograph requests to show their support for the 59-year-old actor, Depp’s appearance at Cannes also sparked major backlash for the renowned film festival, with many criticizing their decision to screen his new movie.  

Eve Barlow, a close friend of Heard who has been living with her and her daughter in Spain, took to social media to condemn the Cannes Film Festival.

“Cannes seem proud of their history supporting rapists and abusers. Plus ça change. #CannesYouNot,” Barlow wrote.

Barlow shared a number of photos of Depp, including one with the title “Why Does Cannes Platform Predators?” where the actor’s picture appears alongside notorious Hollywood figures accused of sexually abusing women and minors, including Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.

Defending their decision to screen Jeanne Du Barry as well as Depp’s attendance at the festival, Cannes director Thierry Frémaux claimed that Depp’s legal battles were not of interest to him and that his attendance was a result of Maïwenn’s casting.

“I don’t know about the image of Johnny Depp in the U.S. To tell you the truth, in my life, I only have one rule, it’s the freedom of thinking and the freedom of speech and acting within a legal framework,” said Fremaux during a press conference. “If Johnny Depp had been banned from acting in a film or the film was banned, we wouldn’t be here talking about it.”

“This [controversy] came up once the film was announced at Cannes because everybody knew Johnny had made a film in France… I don’t know why she chose him, but it’s a question you should ask Maïwenn,” Fremaux said. “As for the rest, I’m the last person to be able to discuss all this. If there’s one person in this world who didn’t find the least interest in this very publicized trial, it’s me. I don’t know what it’s about. I also care about Johnny Depp as an actor.”

Following the opening night, Depp attended a press conference for Jeanne Du Barry on Wednesday, which was delayed by 27 minutes due to his late arrival. Depp, who quickly took the spotlight upon arrival, admitted to have been overwhelmed by the “energy of the reaction” to the film. When asked about his comeback to acting, Depp questioned what a comeback even means, saying “I’ve had my 17th comeback, apparently.”  

“I keep wondering about the word ‘comeback.’ I didn’t go anywhere. As a matter of fact, I live about 45 minutes away. Maybe people stopped calling out of whatever their fear was at the time. But I didn’t go nowhere.”

As a consequence of Heard’s abuse accusations, Depp was asked to step down from his role in the Harry Potter spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts. When asked if the reactions to the allegations against him made him feel like he was being boycotted by Hollywood, Depp acknowledged that while it may have felt that way at the time, he does not feel boycotted by Hollywood now because “I don’t think about Hollywood. I don’t have much further need for Hollywood, myself.”

“It’s a strange, funny time where everybody would love to be able to be themselves, but they can’t. They must fall in line with the person in front of them. If you want to live that kind of life, I wish you the best, I’ll be on the other side somewhere,” Depp concluded.

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