Johnny Depp says ‘no one safe’ from cancel culture as he accepts lifetime achievement award

The Hollywood star made his comments as he accepted the San Sebastián film festival’s highest honour

Nobody is safe from the “instant rush to judgment” handed out by today’s cancel culture, Hollywood star Johnny Depp said Wednesday at a Spanish film festival where he accepted a lifetime achievement award.

Depp, who last year lost a libel case against a British newspaper that labelled him a “wife-beater”, was responding to questions from journalists at the San Sebastián film festival in northern Spain.

In what appeared to a reference to the #MeToo movement that has targeted the sexual harassment and assault of women by powerful men, he suggested that things had got out of hand.

“The various movements that came out, I’m sure with the best of intentions – however it’s so far out of hand now that I can promise you that no one is safe,” he said.

He also lashed out at “this cancel culture or this instant rush to judgment based on essentially what amounts to polluted air that’s exhaled.”

In 2020, the three-time Oscar nominee sued the publisher of The Sun, a British tabloid, over claims he was violent to his ex-wife Amber Heard during their two-year marriage.

The judge, Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the star’s libel claim, finding that a column published in April 2018 calling Depp a “wife beater” was “substantially true”.

He said: “I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard.”

The judge that ruled Depp, 57, assaulted Heard, 34, on a dozen occasions and put her in “fear for her life” three times.

In the aftermath of the 16-day libel trial, Depp said he was asked to step down from his role in the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise. The actor lost a bid to overturn the libel ruling.

Women’s rights groups and some women in the film industry have criticised the festival’s decision to hand Depp its Donostia award, which it gave out “in recognition of his career”.

Depp, who continues to deny he was violent towards Heard, told journalists: “No one safe, but I believe that if you are armed with the truth then that’s what you need.”

Past recipients of the Donostia award – the festival’s highest honour which is named after the Basque word for the coastal town of San Sebastián – include actors Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen and Robert De Niro.

– With Agence France-Presse

Guardian staff and agencies

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