A source told PEOPLE last month that Johnny Depp is "excited" about his comeback movie opening the Cannes Film Festival
The actor, 59, walked the red carpet at the event in Cannes, France, on Tuesday as his French-language film Jeanne Du Barry, in which he plays King Louis XV opposite director Maïwenn, opens the film festival.
Depp stopped to sign autographs and pose for selfies with fans before making it to the red carpet. He and the Jeanne Du Barry cast and crew posed together hand in hand. Maïwenn, Depp and the rest of the cast walked the carpet to The Clash's song "Should I Stay or Should I Go." Depp received applause inside the theater as he arrived to take his seat. One audience member was heard shouting, "Go Johnny!"
His comeback film arrives overseas one year after his controversial defamation trial with ex-wife Amber Heard over a 2018 op-ed she wrote about coming forward with domestic abuse allegations.
Cannes Film Festival's chief Thierry Fremaux addressed having Depp's movie open the festival, telling reporters Monday: "I don't know about the image of Johnny Depp in the U.S. 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 acting within a legal framework."
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"If Johnny Depp had been banned from acting in a film or the film was banned, we wouldn't be here talking about it. So we saw Maïwenn's film and it could have been in competition. She would have been the eighth female director," said Fremaux. "This [controversy] came up once the film was announced at Cannes because everybody knew Johnny had made a film in France … I don't know why she chose him but it's a question you should ask Maïwenn."
"As for the rest, I'm the last person to be able to discuss all this," he added. "If there's one person in this world who didn't find the least interest in this very publicized trial, it's me. I don't know what it's about. I also care about Johnny Depp as an actor."
In November 2020, Depp lost his U.K. libel suit, in which he sued British tabloid The Sun for calling him a "wife-beater." Heard, 37, testified to back up the claims, and a London judge upheld the outlet's claims as being "substantially true." In March 2021, his attempt to overturn that decision was overruled.
Separately, a jury in Virginia sided mostly with Depp in a trial last year. He won all three counts of defamation he brought against Heard, and Heard won one of three claims in her countersuit. Both appealed the verdict but reached a settlement in December.
Heard, who will pay $1 million as part of the settlement, said in a lengthy statement at the time: "I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward."
Depp's lawyers added in their own statement at the time, "We are pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light."
About Jeanne Du Barry, a source told PEOPLE in April that "filming was challenging, but Johnny is excited about the comeback."
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