Johnny Depp Channels Controversial King Louis XV in ‘Jeanne du Barry’ First-Look

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French filmmaker Maïwenn is teasing the first look at Johnny Depp as the controversial King Louis XV in “Jeanne du Barry,” a historical romance drama about a royal’s concubine.

It’s Depp’s first film role since his highly publicized defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard. The jury found that Heard had defamed Depp in her 2018 Washington Post opinion piece, which alluded to being a victim of domestic violence. However, the jury also found that Depp defamed Heard, through his attorney, while fighting back against her charges.

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“Jeanne du Barry” started shooting at the end of July (after the trial wrapped in June) in Paris and the Île-de-France region, using landmarks like the Palace of Versailles as backdrops. Maïwenn, who also wrote the screenplay with Teddy Lussi-Modeste, is playing the title role.

The story follows Jeanne, a young working-class woman who uses her intelligence and allure to climb the social hierarchy. She lands on the radar of King Louis XV who, unaware of her status as courtesan, falls madly in love. Against all propriety and etiquette, Jeanne moves to Versailles, where her arrival scandalizes the court.

The cast will also include Benjamin Lavernhe, Pierre Richard, Melvil Poupaud, Noémie Lvovsky, Pascal Greggory and India Hair.

In real life, Louis XV was nicknamed “the beloved” and reigned for 59 years, one of the longest stints in French history. However, he died as an unpopular royal after being accused of corruption and debauchery.

“Jeanne du Barry” is Depp’s first major acting role since the 2020 independent film “Minamata,” in which he played war photographer W. Eugene Smith. Later in 2020, Depp was forced by Warner Bros. to exit the “Harry Potter” spinoff series “Fantastic Beasts” after he lost his libel case against the British tabloid The Sun, which had characterized Depp was a “wife beater.” Madds Mikkelson replaced Depp as dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in 2022’s “Fantastic Beast: The Secrets of Dumbledore.”

The Paris-based Why Not Productions, IN2 and France Télévisions will produce “Jeanne du Barry.” Wild Bunch International (“Titane”) is handling world sales. Le Pacte is distributing the film in France. Netflix has licensed the film to stream in France after it plays in theaters.

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