Johnny Depp underlined his growing relationship with Saudi Arabia on Friday by taking part in a Q&A at the country’s Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah following a screening of his feature Jeanne du Barry. The actor had been due to attend the screening itself, but as director Maïwenn explained, he’s “always late.”
Not that the crowd minded his self-described “procrastination,” however, with cheers following the discussion, and at least one yell of “We Love You Johnny!” from an audience member as he was ushered away by a security team, to which Depp smiled and waved courteously. Outside the cinema at the Red Sea Mall, where the screening took place, Depp had to be quickly escorted to his car as news of his presence sparked a flood of people racing to catch a glimpse of the actor and attempt to get a selfie.
Jeanne du Barry, which opened Cannes and in which Depp stars as French King Louis XV (with Maïwenn directing herself as his favorite mistress), was part-financed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Foundation, which runs the Red Sea Film Festival. The Foundation recently announced that it was financing Depp’s next project Modi, the upcoming biopic of Italian sculptor Modigliani, which he’s set to direct as well as star alongside Al Pacino.
“To be given the opportunity to play Louis XV came out of nowhere, and that was the initial beauty of it,” said Depp about Jeanne du Barry, which in Cannes was being billed as his comeback movie, his first major project after his gruelling trial with ex wife Amber Heard. “To be able to dive into the skin and bones of a French king is pretty strange, especially for a guy from Kentucky.”