Depp decries ‘cancel culture’ before receiving film prize

SAN SEBASTIAN – Nobody is safe from so-called “cancel culture”, Hollywood star Johnny Depp said on Wednesday at the San Sebastian Film Festival where he was due to receive the event’s top award for his nearly 40-year career on screen.

The 58-year-old US actor lost a libel battle with a British tabloid that labelled him a “wife beater” last year, when a London court ruled he had repeatedly assaulted his former partner, US actor Amber Heard.

Since then, Depp has complained of being boycotted by Hollywood as his latest film Minamata struggled to secure a US release. He was also replaced from the third film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise following the verdict.

On Wednesday, he decried “this cancel culture or this instant rush to judgement based on essentially what amounts to polluted air that’s exhaled”.

“I’ll go to somebody’s house man. I’ll perform in your kid’s birthday party at this point,” he told a news conference, shortly before a ceremony where he would be presented with the Donostia award, San Sebastian’s highest accolade.

“No one is safe as long as someone is willing to say one sentence. It takes one sentence.” 

Feminist groups and film industry associations criticised the festival’s decision to honour Depp when the award was announced in August.

The CIMA association of female cinematographers and audiovisual professionals said it was “an error from an ethical point of view”.

Responding to that criticism, festival director Jose Luis Rebordinos said the award was a reflection of Depp’s cinematic achievements and unrelated to his personal life.

“The role of a film festival is not to judge the conduct of members of the film industry,” he said at the time.

Depp is the second recipient of the accolade this year. On Friday, French actress Marion Cotillard received the statue from Spanish actress Penelope Cruz. - REUTERS