Johnny Depp Says Dior 'Sauvage' Film Was Made "With Great Respect" for Native Americans Following Backlash

Johnny Depp
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Johnny Depp

The actor says they are working with those offended on a resolution and that the full film "has never been seen."

Johnny Depp defended his latest Dior campaign, Sauvage, which was pulled Aug. 30 after being considered offensive to Native Americans.

Depp said the teaser released was just a clip and did not reflect the depth of the full project, titled We Are the Land. “A teaser obviously is a very concentrated version of images and there were objections to the teaser of the small film. The film has never been seen,” he said.

“There was never — and how could there be or how would there be — any dishonorable [intent]. The film was made with a great respect for the indigenous people not just of North America but all over the world. It's a pity that people jumped the gun and made these objections. However, their objections are their objections,” he said, adding that they were working with those offended to come to a resolution.

The star was speaking at the Deauville Film Festival, where he was on hand to receive a career honor and present his latest film, Waiting for the Barbarians, along with co-star Mark Rylance following the film's world premiere in Venice.

The film is adapted from author J. M. Coetzee's novel about the cruelty of colonialism from Colombian director Ciro Guerra, who helmed Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent.

Depp had faced criticism over the campaign for the French fashion house after a clip debuted. The clip, part of a short film directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, showed Depp wandering through desert as Native Americans perform a war dance in traditional dress. The company received complaints that it was offensive and it was subsequently taken down.

Depp said that there has been no final decision to pull the ad and the creative teams plan to meet and work with those who were offended by the clip to come to a resolution. He noted the creative team had worked with the Comanche Nation and other indigenous advocacy organizations during the creation of the film.

“I can assure you that no one has any reason to go out to try to exploit. It was a film made out of great respect and with great respect and love for the Native American peoples to bring light to them. They haven't had the greatest amount of help out of the United States government,” he said. “The idea is as pure as it ever was, so we will come to an agreement so that everyone is happy.”

Depp addressed the topic of Barbarians, in which he plays a sadistic colonel wielding power against native peoples in an unnamed empire. He said the character stems from being taught to hate others in his youth. “There is no specific country — the problem is not far away from us and it's all around us. It is very much about injustice and people who are in a position to pervert justice, and free to act as they want without any real penalties because they have a badge.”

He received a career tribute from legendary actress Catherine Deneuve, who is heading up this year's Deauville jury. She called Depp a “fascinating chameleon, an elusive actor” who brings humanity to misfits. “Always a source of inspiration, thank you for being who you are.”

Depp said receiving the honor from Deneuve was “one of the most fascinating things that has ever happened," joking: “I'll probably be trying to figure out why I have [this honor] for the next 20 years — if I last that long.”