Johnny Depp was only meant to be asked questions relating to his career during a press conference preceding his Donostia Awards reception at the San Sebastian Film Festival. But in response to one journalist’s bold attempt to parse the actor’s thoughts on so-called “cancel culture” and how social media can affect public figures, Depp did not hold back.
Depp declared it was a “complex situation” because it “can be seen as an event in history that lasted for however long it lasted, this cancel culture or this instant rush to judgement based on essentially what amounts to polluted air that is…,” he let out a gust of breath, “exhaled.”
On whether or not he feels safe in such an interconnected world, Depp replied that: “Yeah, I do,” followed by several false starts before contradicting himself. “The various movements that came out with, I’m sure the best of intentions…”
Trailing off again while, presumably, looking for the right words, he shifted a bit, expressing that in his opinion, “It’s so far out of hand now that I can promise you that no one is safe. Not one of you. Not one of you… as long as someone is willing to say one sentence. It takes just one sentence and there is no more ground. The carpet has been pulled.”
Depp and his ex-wife, actor Amber Heard, are embroiled in the fallout of a very public split. Depp is currently suing Heard, his ex-wife, after she wrote a 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse. She didn’t name Depp in the op-ed, but she accused him of domestic violence after their 2016 divorce.
Earlier, in November 2020, Depp lost a U.K. libel case against the publisher of The Sun, a U.K. tabloid that alleged he was a “wife beater” in a 2018 article. The judge ruled that the words were “substantially true.”
In San Sebastian, the actor didn’t only lament for himself. “It’s not just me this has happened to,” he said, alluding to but not directly stating what it was that happened to him. “It’s happened to a lot of people. This type of thing has happened to women, men and children who have suffered from various types of unpleasantries and they sadly, at a certain point, begin to think that it’s normal.
“I believe that if you are armed with the truth, then that’s all you need,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter if a judgement…has taken some artistic license,” he chuckled, perhaps referencing his unsuccessful bid to overturn a judge’s ruling in his U.K. libel case.
Finishing his answer, he pleaded with the assembled press and those watching online, “When there is an injustice, whether it’s against you or someone you love, or someone you believe in, stand up, don’t sit down. Don’t sit down on ’em, they need you.”
One more question about Depp’s off-screen issues was raised by a reporter who was immediately reminded that Depp was only at the press conference to discuss his career and the Donostia prize he is receiving in Spain. The question had referenced an ongoing protest by a group of Spanish women filmmakers that was launched the day Depp’s festival honor was announced.
Offered another chance to ask a question about Depp’s career, the journalist declined, and the conference moved on.