Taking centre stage in a prestigious Spanish film festival to earn a top career award, actor Johnny Depp introduced himself as a victim of the “cancel culture” that, he said, has spread across the cinema industry.
Depp was attending to questions on Wednesday by reporters at the San Sebastian International Film Festival about the loss of Hollywood’s favour for new parts ever since his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, went public with reports of domestic violence against him. A British judge last year found the statements to be “substantially correct.”
“It’s a very complex situation, this cancel-culture, or this instant rush to judgment based on essentially what amounts to polluted air,” the 58-year-old actor reacted. “It’s got so far out of hand that I can assure you, no one is safe. Not one of you, so long as someone is willing to say one thing.”
Female filmmakers and other factions had criticised the organizer’s judgment to distinguish Depp with the Donostia Award, the festival’s highest honour, telling it degraded the image of the event, and conveyed the wrong message to victims of gender violence.
The previous year, Depp lost a defamation case against a British newspaper that condemned him of domestic violence, with the judge on the case judging the allegations were “substantially correct.” In March, a British court rejected Depp consent to appeal the ruling that he attacked his former wife, Amber Heard, saying his try to overturn the decision had “no real prospect of success.”
Depp is also charging Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post op-ed attempt that she wrote about domestic violence. The trial, in that case, was recently postponed until April 2022.
Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media, which has close links to the festival, told that awards should not be bestowed based only on professional or artistic achievements. “What is the message that remains when men denounced for sexist violence are applauded, photographed on red carpets, surrounded by unconditional fans?” the association, known as CIMA, inscribed in a Twitter thread in which it asserted the “complexity” of the issue.
The actor, who portrayed the outstanding Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, and leading roles in Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow, talked to reporters hours before the awards gala. The debate arose despite the proposal of the festival for media questions to be restricted to Depp’s career. A press conference mediator shut off a question from a reporter about the CIMA’s criticism.
“It takes one sentence, then there’s no more ground, the carpet has been pulled,” Depp said without quoting Heard or the libel cases. “It’s not just me that it’s happened to. It’s happened to a lot of people: women, men, children have suffered from various types of unpleasantries that sadly at a certain point they begin to think it’s normal, that it’s them. It’s not,” he said.
The actor also spoke about how the coronavirus pandemic has given rise to more people watching films on screens at homes rather than going to cinemas, which closed during lockdowns. “The majority of the world went, ’You know, this ain’t bad. We can sit and watch this thing at home. We can cook some popcorn, as opposed to the idea of a guy who makes $700 a week, and wants to take his wife and kids out to dinner and a movie on the weekend, which is a $200 deal. I think the Hollywood movie machine has a few design flaws they are just realising. I’m glad I saw it coming, personally,” he added.
When asked about his beliefs of the industry’s health, especially in the US, Depp said that “Hollywood is certainly not what it was.” “The grudge matches, the pandemonium and chaos of cinematic release to streaming… It is a case of, ‘No matter what, I’m going to get mine,’” the actor said. “That’s where these people are coming from. They realise they are just as disposable as I am. Some even more.”
The San Sebastian International Film Festival, hosted in northern Spain, takes place from 17th to 25th September this year. Depp was planned to earn the award late on Wednesday in what is the actor’s third arrival at the event.
French actress Marion Cotillard also obtained a Donostia Award last Friday, on the opening day of the festival.