CANNES, May 16 (Reuters) – Johnny Depp returned in full stardom on Tuesday, signing autographs and snapping photos with fans ahead of the premiere of the Cannes Film Festival opening film ‘Jeanne du Barry,’ which marks the first major role of the actor since his highly publicized libel trial.
Fans in the French Riviera town were seen hoisting signs reading “Congratulations, Johnny” and “We’re sorry” with a heart.
The festival delivered on its glamorous reputation with a parade of stars including Mads Mikkelsen, a blue-haired Helen Mirren and John C. Reilly walking down the red carpet.
Michael Douglas, accompanied by his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and their daughter, kept signing autographs as they entered the Grand Théâtre Lumière, where the 78-year-old actor received an honorary Palme d’Or. .
“There are hundreds of film festivals around the world, but there’s only one Cannes,” Douglas told the crowd. “And suddenly (he’s) 76 – I’m even older than the festival,” he joked.
French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve, 79, who graces the poster for this year’s festival, was also invited on stage to speak to guests.
Depp plays King Louis XV in ‘Jeanne du Barry’, directed and starring French actress and director Maïwenn Le Besco, known as Maïwenn, as the French courtesan Madame du Barry who rose through the social ranks at Versailles to become the king’s favourite.
Critics pointed to the film’s lush look, which received funding from Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation as part of an estimated total budget of $22.4 million – but said it lacked pulse.
“Even the – some would say stunt – casting of Johnny Depp as King offers some early chills, then mostly yawns,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter.
The French-language film, which does not yet have a release date in North America, marks the start of a comeback for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor, who has made few appearances in cinema or in television since the end of his trial in June 2022.
Depp won a near-total victory by a US jury in his libel fight with former wife and actress Amber Heard, with jurors awarding him more than $10 million in damages.
Less than two years earlier, Depp lost a libel suit in Britain against the Sun tabloid, which called him a “wife beater”. Shortly thereafter, Depp was dropped from the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise, a “Harry Potter” spin-off.
Festival director Thierry Fremaux said on Monday that he was unaware of Depp’s image in the United States and that he was not banned from performing, there was no reason to not include the movie.
An open letter signed by more than 100 actors published Tuesday in the French newspaper Liberation criticized Cannes for “rolling out the red carpet to the men and women who attack”. He said it sent a message that there were no consequences for such actions, although he didn’t give specific names.
Reporting by Miranda Murray; edited by Jonathan Oatis
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