johnny depp

Screegrab via NME/YouTube

Johnny Depp speculates that an actor should assassinate the president again

He joked about an actor assassinating a president.


Michelle Jaworski

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Published Jun 23, 2017   Updated May 23, 2021, 2:05 am CDT

Johnny Depp is facing mounting backlash online after he joked about Donald Trump and presidential assassination at the Glastonbury Festival Thursday night.

He appeared at Glastonbury and spoke to the audience before the screening of his 2004 film, The Libertine. He suggested bringing Trump to the festival, which drew boos from the crowd. Depp, a vocal Trump critic prior to the 2016 election, replied that he believes that Trump “needs help.”

The video, which was posted to NME’s YouTube channel, featured numerous clips of Depp speaking spliced together. The next clip shows Depp prefacing what he’s about to say because he’s already aware of how it’ll go.

“This is going to be in the press and it’ll be horrible, but I like that you’re all a part of it,” he said, predicting that what he was about to say would not go over well. “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”

Depp’s question draws a reference to John Wilkes Booth, the actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 as he and his wife watched a play at Ford’s Theatre. The audience appeared with a mix of cheers and boos, which led Depp to add a disclaimer to his comments.

“I want to clarify, I’m not an actor,” Depp said. “I lie for a living.”

Depp’s comments immediately drew ire from the right. Critics called for his talent agency to drop him and to boycott his movies for suggesting an actor assassinate Trump. Others asked why someone would joke about assassinating Trump after last week’s shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and asked why the media was silent despite the video going viral and getting news coverage soon after it spread. They also brought up the allegations that Depp abused his ex-wife, which had recently resurfaced in the midst of a lawsuit between Depp and his former management group.

Some compared Depp’s comments to Kathy Griffin’s photoshoot that depicted her holding Trump’s head, which resulted in CNN firing her.

Update 3:19pm CT, June 23: The White House released a statement condemning Depp’s assassination comments and called for others to speak out against them.

“President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and its [sic] sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead,” the statement read. “I hope that some of Mr. Depp’s colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if his comments were directed to a democrat [sic] elected official.”

The Secret Service told the Washington Post that it is “aware of the comment in question.”

Less than a day after making the comments, Depp has apologized and called it a “bad joke” in “poor taste.”

“I apologize for the bad joke I attempted last night in poor taste about President Trump,” Depp said in a statement to People. “It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone.”

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*First Published: Jun 23, 2017, 8:14 am CDT