Johnny Depp has made his big onscreen comeback—in style, and with controversy.
After years of legal turmoil with ex-wife Amber Heard stalled his acting career, the Pirates of the Caribbean actor returned to the spotlight to star in Rihanna's Savage x Fenty Vol 4 fashion show. Looking like a rock star version of his pirate character Jack Sparrow, Depp showcased black eyeliner, flowing hair, a mustache, soul patch and trimmed beard and a dark patterned shirt opened to partially reveal his jewelry-adorned chest, under a brown coat.
Depp made his intro while leaning against a tree and staring seductively at the camera. As OutKast's "So Fresh, So Clean" played in the background, he walked slowly through a smoky forest before hugging another tree.
The star-studded event premiered on Amazon Prime Video Nov. 9, five months after Depp won a victory against Heard in a highly publicized defamation trial that delved into accusations of abuse of one another.
Since news of his appearance emerged, Depp's critics have questioned Rihanna—the executive producer and creative director of the fashion show, who is a domestic violence victim—and Fenty on social media over his participation at the event, with one Twitter user calling the decision "disappointing."
Depp had sued Heard for $50 million over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, in which she stated that two years prior, she "became a public figure representing domestic abuse." While she did not name her ex, she did publicly accuse the actor of domestic violence in a 2016 restraining order she obtained after her divorce filing. Depp, who denied her allegations, alleged in his filing that Heard herself "violently abused" him. During the trial, Heard testified that she "didn't assault Johnny, ever."
Rihanna's Savage x Fenty fashion show marked Depp's second onscreen gig since the end of the trial, in which Heard was found liable for defaming him with her op-ed and was ordered to pay him more than $10 million in damages. (The jury also ordered him to pay the actress, who filed a countersuit, $2 million because his lawyer had accused her of perpetrating a "hoax.") Depp's first on-camera appearance since the trial ended was a pre-recorded cameo at the opening of the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards in August.
Amid his legal woes with Heard, Depp acted sporadically, most recently appearing on-camera in the 2020 independent film Minamata. In 2020, after losing a libel case against a U.K. newspaper that had labeled him a "wife beater"—an allegation he denied, the actor resigned from Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third film in the successful Harry Potter prequel series, at studio Warner Bros.' request.
Despite his court battles with his ex-wife, Depp continued his music career. His band Hollywood Vampires, made up of himself, Alice Cooper and Aerosmith's Joe Perry, recently announced a U.K. arena tour.
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