During a Tuesday (16 May) press conference with the festival’s jury, juror Larson was asked how she “felt about Depp’s film opening the festival” and if she planned on seeing it.
Taken aback, the Marvel actor responded: “You’re asking me that? I’m sorry, I don’t understand the correlation or why me specifically.”
Clarifying his intended connection, the journalist brought up Larson’s vocal advocacy for the Times Up movement, a non-profit organisation formed to support victims of sexual harassment and amplify female voices in the film and TV industry.
“Understood,” Larson acknowledged. “Well, you’ll see, I guess, if I see it, and I don’t know how I’ll feel about it if I do.”
Several fans commended Larson’s “excellent” response, with some suggesting that the journalist’s question was “unprofessional” and intended to “set her up to twist her words”.
“It was a gotcha question. Brie Larson is not responsible for Johnny Depp’s sins,” one tweeted.
Brie Larson was surprised to be asked about Johnny Depp's opening film: "You’re asking me that? I’m sorry, I don’t understand the correlation or why me specifically." https://t.co/5Ec2S23051 #Cannes pic.twitter.com/QPfO1Yb4qS
— Variety (@Variety) May 16, 2023
Depp’s film, Jeanne du Barry, is directed by French filmmaker Maïwenn and tells the story of King Louis XV‘s mistress Jeanne Vaubernier.
It marks Depp’s first lead role since his highly publicised defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard last year.
Depp sued Heard for defamation, claiming that she had falsely implied he was abusive towards her in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star ultimately won the Virginia trial after a jury found that Heard had defamed him and awarded him $10m (£8.2m) in compensatory damages.
Nevertheless, the festival’s decision to open with Depp’s newest film has been met with backlash. The festival director Thierry Frémaux has defended the “controversial choice” several times.
“I don’t know about the image of Johnny Depp in the US. To tell you the truth, in my life, I only have one rule, it’s the freedom of thinking, and the freedom of speech and acting within a legal framework,” Frémaux said most recently.
Cannes Film Festival runs from 16 May to 27 May.