Johnny Depp on 'Minamata': "Films Like This Don't Get Made Every Day"

Johnny Depp - Getty H - 2020
Credit: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

The star was in Berlin for the world premiere of the drama about war photographer W. Eugene Smith, who helped bring to public attention a mercury poisoning in Japan carried out over a 34-year-period.

Johnny Depp hailed the power of film as he dropped into Berlin ahead of the world premiere of Minamata at the Berlin Film Festival on Friday.

The drama — directed by Andrew Levitas — sees Depp play celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith, who helped bring to public attention the shocking and deadly mercy poisoning by a powerful corporation in Japan that occurred over a 34-year period.

“Reading the story and learning the history of what happened in Minamata, the fact that it even happened at all, was very shocking,” he told a press conference. “The fact it continues is even more shocking. Just as a reader, as someone who is interested, I believed it was a story that needed to be told."

Depp added that he felt it was important to “harness the power of the media, or cinema” and use it to “open up people’s eyes to something that happened and happens to this day.”He also noted that “films like this don’t get made every day.”

Levitas praised his leading man for helping drive the film right from its conception. "He doesn’t like to talk about it or take credit for it, but this came from him," he said. "All the passion and all of what we were able to do in terms of pulling it together and its messaging came out of Johnny’s heart."

Co-star Akiko Iwase said she hoped Minamata would be a "stone to make waves and spread to the world," adding that the scandal should be something people "keep talking about, don’t forget about."

While the questions from the audience ducked directly mentioning Depp’s own personal life, one journalist did ask how he connected to a character who was a "broken alcoholic who found a new chapter in his life," to which Depp responded: "I think I’ve heard that story somewhere before."