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

'No one is safe, not one of you,' Johnny Depp told journalists at the San Sebastián film festival

Johnny Depp has warned that "no one is safe" from cancel culture, while speaking at a Spanish film festival where he accepted a contentious lifetime achievement award.

The 58-year-old actor was answering questions about his loss of Hollywood’s favour for new roles ever since his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, went public with allegations of domestic violence against him.

A judge at the High Court last year found the allegations to be “substantially true”.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp outside court Credit: PA

“It’s a very complex situation because it can be seen as an event in history that lasted for however long it lasted for," the three-time Oscar nominee told reporters at the Sebastián film festival in northern Spain.

"This cancel culture, or this instant rush to judgment based on essentially what amounts to polluted air."

“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, not anyone out that door- no one is safe as long as someone is willing to say one sentence.”

"It takes one sentence and then there's no more ground."

In 2020, Depp sued the publisher of The Sun, over disputed allegations he was violent to his ex-wife Amber Heard during their two-year marriage.

(Aaron Chown/PA) Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

But in a damning High Court ruling, Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the star’s libel claim, concluding that a column published in April 2018 calling the Pirates of the Caribbean star a “wife beater” was “substantially true”.

Female filmmakers were among the groups which had criticised the festival organisers’ decision to honour Depp with the Donostia Award, the festival’s highest honour- at its 69th edition.

They say it has tarnished the event’s image and delivered the wrong message to victims of gender violence.

Cristina Andreu, the President of Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media, said last month: “This speaks very badly of the festival and its leadership, and transmits a terrible message to the public: ‘It doesn’t matter if you are an abuser as long as you are a good actor’."

Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media, which has close links to the festival, said that awards should not be granted 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, wrote.

ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner sat through the July 2020 hearing and gave her thoughts once all the evidence had been presented

Depp's cancel culture comments emerged despite the festival’s request for media questions to be restricted to his career.

The actor, who played Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean and leading roles in Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow, spoke to reporters hours before the award’s gala.

A press conference moderator blocked a question from a reporter about the CIMA’s criticism, but the actor answered anyway.

“It takes one sentence, then there’s no more ground, the carpet has been pulled,” Depp said, without mentioning Ms Heard or the libel case.

The festival had asked for media questions to be restricted to Depp’s career Credit: Alvaro Barrientos/AP

“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.

In March, the Court of Appeal refused Depp permission to appeal against the High Court ruling that he assaulted Heard, saying his attempt to overturn the decision had “no real prospect of success”.

Listen to our Unscripted podcast

Depp is also suing Heard for millions of dollars in the US, over a Washington Post essay that she wrote about domestic violence.

The trial in that case was recently delayed until April 2022.