‘I don’t have much use for Hollywood’: Johnny Depp slams industry that ‘boycotted’ him

Actor Johnny Depp wearing dark sunglasses and holding a tattooed hand with several rings up to his face
Actor Johnny Depp attends a press conference for the film “Jeanne Du Barry” during the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.
(Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP via Getty Images)
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The day after “Jeanne du Barry” opened the Cannes Film Festival, co-star Johnny Depp swept in late to the film’s press conference with choice words for those who objected to his presence at the festival, the press, Hollywood and, for good measure, anyone who thinks he is experiencing a comeback.

The teary-eyed Depp of the previous night, the one basking in fan love and ovation applause, was replaced with Johnny Part Two: Ready to Rumble.

“Everything the majority of you have been reading for the past five or six years regarding my life is fantastically, horrifically written fiction,” he said, adding that he was here to talk about film. But even so, “it’s like asking the question ‘How are you doing?’ but the subtext is ‘God, I hate you.’


The subtext of that reference to subtext, of course, is the scrutiny Depp has been under during the period in question: for his highly publicized legal wrangling with ex-wife Amber Heard and what it exposed about the couple’s tempestuous relationship and Depp’s substance use; for other legal woes, including a battle with his former business managers; for losing the role of Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” and more. Like Cannes boss Thierry Frémaux, Depp preferred to focus on the film itself.

“To get a film like this made, with a cast like this,” he told reporters, “that should be the focus, all this stuff you can stuff your shoes with, line your parrot cage with, it’s boring, isn’t it. Hundred-thousand-year-old bird sings unrecorded Beatles song,” he said, adding, “You’ll get it later.”

In choosing ‘Jeanne du Barry,’ which stars Depp as King Louis XV, as its opening film, the Cannes Film Festival courted controversy by claiming to ignore it.

May 16, 2023

The event began a half-hour late, with Maïwenn, the film’s director, co-writer and star, assuring the packed room that Depp would be joining them in a few minutes. She and other members of the cast answered a few questions about how she felt about the film’s reception (amazing) and why an American had been cast to play a French king (Maïwenn had originally approached several French actors who all said no). But when the doors opened wide to reveal Depp and his inevitable sunglasses, it was clear who everyone had been waiting for.

And also why, perhaps, he had chosen to be late (the official excuse was traffic): A majority of the subsequent questions were addressed to him; some dealt with the experience of playing a king and doing it in French (“I thought it was brave of [Maïwenn] to choose some hillbilly from Kentucky”), but many did not.

“Did I feel boycotted by Hollywood?” he said, echoing one question he was asked. “You’d have to not have a pulse to not feel that, of course, when you’re asked to resign from a film you’re doing for something that is merely just a bunch of vowels and consonants in the air,” he told reporters. “Do I feel boycotted now? No, I don’t feel boycotted by Hollywood, because I don’t think about Hollywood. I don’t have much use for Hollywood, do you? It’s a strange, funny time when people feel like they can’t be themselves; they must fall in line with the person in front of them. If you want to live that life, I wish you the best, I’ll see you on the other side.”

Maïwenn gamely tried to turn the conversation around, mentioning Depp’s penchant for choosing a piece of music for every scene — ”when he was dying, it was Bach” — but questions like “What would you say to those who thought you shouldn’t be in Cannes?” were built to elicit exactly the type of response they got.


Amid a writers’ strike and labor unrest, the 2023 edition features controversial stars (Johnny Depp), beloved auteurs (Martin Scorsese) and blockbuster movies (‘Indiana Jones’).

May 15, 2023

“What if someone said I can’t go to McDonald’s for life because somewhere 35 people are watching me eat a Big Mac on a loop? Some species, some tower of mashed potatoes, cowering behind a computer screen anonymous … I don’t think I’m the one who should be worried.”

As for the notion of a Cannes-prompted comeback, well. “I’ve had about 17 comebacks, and I don’t understand it because I didn’t go anywhere. I live about 45 minutes from here. Maybe people stopped calling out of whatever their fear was at the time — but I didn’t go nowhere.... ‘Comeback’ is almost like I’m going to come out and do a tap dance — dance my best and hope you approve. That’s the notion. It’s a bizarre mystery.”

To prepare for “Jeanne du Barry,” or any film, he said, he mostly needs “to figure out a way that the viewer can forget who you are and all the baggage you carry in the first three minutes of the film.”

Perhaps with the next one it will be a bit easier. For the moment, however, it’s all baggage, all the time.