Brie Larson had few words about the decision to open this year’s Cannes Film Festival with “Jeanne du Barry,” a historical drama starring Johnny Depp. It’s the embattled actor’s first leading role in three years, following highly publicized legal battles with his ex-wife Amber Heard.
She mostly evaded the question when asked whether she’d attend the world premiere, which she isn’t required to do as a juror since it’s not playing in competition. “You’re asking me that?” she responded during a jury press conference on Tuesday. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the correlation or why me specifically.”
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When pressed, Larson added, “You’ll see, I guess, if I will see it. And I don’t know how I’ll feel about it if I do.”
Depp’s initial fallout from Hollywood, including his firing from the “Harry Potter” spinoff series “Fantastic Beasts,” began as he lost a 2020 U.K. libel case involving Heard’s abuse allegations. But he hasn’t been completely ousted from the entertainment industry, receiving career achievement and tribute awards from various international film festivals and retaining a lucrative brand ambassador deal with luxury fashion house Dior. More recently, a U.S. jury found that Heard defamed Depp and awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages.
Larson has been an outspoken advocate of #MeToo and victims of sexual assault and sat on the now-dissolved advisory board of Time’s Up, an advocacy group founded at the height of the #MeToo movement. When she presented Casey Affleck, who was sued by two women for allegations of harassment, with the best actor Oscar in 2017, she didn’t clap as the rest of the crowd gave the “Manchester by the Sea” star a standing ovation.
“To live life as a woman is to live life on the defense,” she said in 2017 in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall. “As always, I stand with the brave survivors of sexual assault and harassment. It’s not your fault. I believe you.”
Earlier at the festival, chief Thierry Fremaux stood by the inclusion of “Jeanne du Barry,” referring to the decision to screen the film as a matter of free expression.
“I don’t know about the image of Johnny Depp in the U.S.,” he said during a separate press conference on Monday. “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 act within a legal framework.”
Many of the inquiries during Tuesday’s presser were lobbed at Larson, an Oscar winner for “Room” and star of Disney and Marvel’s billion-dollar comic book blockbuster “Captain Marvel.” Should superhero spectacles and smaller-scale art films exist at the same festival?
“I only know my perspective. I’ve never curated a film festival before,” she said. “I take the same level of preparation and care for everything, whatever the budget. A film is a film. This is my first time here. I’m sure [the movies] will have a wide range in scope, and that’s what makes this festival so special.”
Other topics broached at the press conference include Hollywood’s ongoing writers strike and the jury’s selection process for this year’s Palme d’or winner, the top prize at Cannes.
Dano, who is married to actor Zoe Kazan, says he’s in solidarity with the writers, who are fighting for better wages and work conditions in the streaming era. “My wife is currently picketing with my 6-month-old strapped to her chest, and I will be there with them at the picket line when I get home.”
Two-time Palme d’or winner Ruben Östlund, who is serving as jury president, added that he’s “definitely pro” strike. He also revealed the two guidelines he’s enforcing as the purveyor of this year’s festival.
“One rule, we’re not going to [publicly] talk about the films,” Östlund said. “This will be the first year in the history that the publicists will have no rumors to tell to each other. We’re going to keep our mouth’s completely shut.” The second, he added, “we have decided we’re going to watch maximum three films in a row and have a deliberation.”
The journalist who probed about the Palme d’or selection process responded, “It’s every day. You know that, right?”
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