CANNES, France – At first you must have wondered if they were running out of time.
Twenty minutes after the start of the Cannes Film Festival press conference for “Jeanne du Barry” on Wednesday, neither the film’s actress-director, Maïwenn, nor its lead actor, Johnny Depp, had shown up.
Were they hoping to avoid questions? For Maïwenn, who was accused of spitting on a journalist in February, and Depp, who recently won a defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard after she made allegations of physical and sexual abuse, questions about their personal scandals could overwhelm any discussion of the film they were meant to promote. Both were present the night before when “Jeanne du Barry” opened the festival, but the Cannes premieres are famous and end with the usual standing ovation. Meeting the press would be a whole different matter.
Depp, who hasn’t starred in a major Hollywood movie in five years, had already missed the morning photo call for “Jeanne du Barry,” a French-language drama in which he plays Louis XV opposite the titular courtesan of Maïwenn. . It is up to Maïwenn to assume this appointment alone, and 25 minutes after the start of the press conference for “Jeanne du Barry”, Maïwenn enters the media room with her main man who is still nowhere to be found.
At first, she opened up about her absence, revealing that she originally offered the role of Depp to several French actors who passed. Eventually she reached out to Depp, believing his nationality to be less important than her other concerns: “I wanted to have strong feelings for the actor, especially since I would hug him and kiss him more late.”
Questions to Maïwenn were mostly kept to a minimum, and none concerned her altercation with French journalist Edwy Plenel, who said Maïwenn had spat on her in a Parisian restaurant – which she more or less confirmed – because that he had investigated multiple allegations of sexual assault. abuse against the director Luc Besson, who had a son with Maïwenn when she was only 16 years old. (Besson denied the charges, of nine women, and French authorities said that after an investigation, the director would not face any charges. If nothing else, Cannes recalls that almost all major figures in the industry French cinema have an important “polemical” section on Wikipedia.)
But it was only a warm-up for Depp, who entered 42 minutes late under the whispers of journalists, then headed to the stage to kiss Maïwenn on the top of the head.
Depp, who spoke mostly in whispered metaphors, first discussed the role’s French language requirements, but was quickly asked if he felt Hollywood boycotted him after he was fired from the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise. in 2020 as his legal battles with Heard began to heat up.
“Of course, if you’re asked to quit a movie you’re doing because of something that’s just a bunch of vowels and consonants floating around in the air, yes, you feel boycotted,” he said. said Depp. “Do I feel boycotted now? No not at all. But I don’t feel boycotted by Hollywood because I don’t think about it. I don’t need Hollywood anymore.
Depp, 59, continued: “It’s a very weird and fun time when everyone wishes they could be themselves, but they can’t. They have to line up with the person in front of them. If you want to live this life, I wish you the best. I’ll be somewhere on the other side.
Depp’s presence at the festival was not without controversy, and although he was acclaimed at the premiere of “Jeanne du Barry”, an open letter in Liberation, signed by more than 100 actors, criticized the festival for allowing him to attend. This missive followed a scathing open letter published by ‘Portrait of a Woman on Fire’ star Adèle Haenel, who announced that she would be retiring from the French film industry due to “her widespread complacency towards sexual aggressors “.
Recalling that there are people who think he shouldn’t have come to Cannes, Depp launched into a metaphor of being banned from McDonald’s, then pictured his detractors as “39 angry people watching me eat a Loop Big Mac. Who are they? Why do they care? Some species or mashed potato tower, covered in the light of a computer screen, anonymous, apparently with a lot of free time. I don’t think it’s me who should be worried. »
Efforts to bring the conversation back to “Jeanne du Barry” have been mostly lukewarm: Depp continued to rail against the media and his critics, insisting, “Over the past five or six years as far as I’m concerned, the majority of what you read is fantastically, horribly written fiction. But when asked if he thought the film could lead to a career comeback, Depp was jaded.
“I keep wondering about the word ‘return,'” he said. “I haven’t been anywhere. In fact, I live about 45 minutes away. Maybe people stopped calling regardless of how scared they were at the time. But I didn’t go anywhere. I remained seated.