Swathed in a poncho, he sits in front of a desert camp fire, staring moodily into the distance, the flames illuminating his heavily tattooed arms.
He is the epitome of manliness… he is ‘Sauvage…wild at heart’. That is the message behind the glossy advertisements for a famous Dior aftershave now appearing in print, on billboards and a TV commercial neatly timed for Christmas — but rather less propitiously, it must be said, given the events that have recently engulfed its star turn.
For the moustachioed man with the floppy locks is Johnny Depp and one has to wonder what the iconic French fashion house are thinking by still running the advertisement barely a month after a High Court judge accepted most of Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard’s claims that he had subjected her to violent assault.
Even Hollywood, hardly a bastion of moral propriety, views Depp as ‘radioactive’ after he lost his momentous libel case over claims he was a ‘wife beater’. Within days of the High Court ruling he was dropped by Warner Bros from his role in Fantastic Beasts.
Swathed in a poncho, Johnny Depp sits in front of a desert camp fire, staring moodily into the distance, the flames illuminating his heavily tattooed arms in Dior’s advert for their fragrance ‘Sauvage’
And yet he continues to be the face of the UK’s best-selling fragrance. It is a cologne, gushes Dior, that is ’both powerful and noble’.
To others, right now, it reeks of hypocrisy and cynicism. Dior and its owner, the French luxury goods giant LVMH, have yet to comment on why Depp, the face of Sauvage since 2015 — with reported earnings of up to $5million for the ad — continues to star in a campaign that critics have attacked as hugely tasteless.
Domestic abuse lawyer Rachel Horman-Brown last night branded Dior ‘irresponsible’ and insulting to women for continuing to use Depp.
She told MailOnline there must be ‘consequences’ for people found by a civil court to have committed domestic abuse. ‘It’s extremely disappointing and irresponsible of Dior — especially when we are looking at a situation that isn’t just an allegation any more.
‘The decision was made that Depp was abusive towards his partner and could be called a wife beater yet Dior continues to use his advert. It is almost condoning abuse and violence against women.’
One has to wonder what the iconic French fashion house are thinking by still running the advertisement barely a month after a High Court judge accepted claims by Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard that he had subjected her to violent assault
The irony of the High Court case that so enthralled and appalled the public earlier this year is that such is Depp’s huge and adoring fan base, sales of Sauvage went up during the trial, his supporters buying it to express their support. Pictured: Amber Heard and Johnny Depp together in 2016
Domestic abuse campaigner Rachel Williams, who was nearly killed by her ex-husband, described the advert as a ‘kick in the guts’ to women. ‘Johnny Depp is seen as a role model and in light of what has happened it would be respectful to victims of domestic abuse and violence to remove him from the ad,’ she said.
However, as marketing experts have been quick to point out, Dior is simply following the money. The irony of the High Court case that so enthralled and appalled the public earlier this year is that, such is Depp’s huge and adoring fan base, sales of Sauvage apparently went up during the trial, his supporters buying it to express their support.
And after the judge’s shock ruling on November 2, internet searches for Sauvage increased by almost a quarter as Depp fans on social media urged each other to buy it.
Dior may have not needed much financial incentive to stand by Depp. It is, after all, a French company and France has always been markedly less sympathetic towards the anti-sexual harassment MeToo movement.
Perfume makers also rely heavily on sales in Asia and Eastern Europe where Depp hasn’t drawn the notoriety for his actions that he has attracted in the UK and U.S.
It is also fair to assume that Dior is aware that even after Mr Justice Nicol’s damning judgment — he ruled that Depp was indeed abusive to Heard, as she had alleged, on a dozen occasions — there are many who still believe in his innocence.
Hollywood, however, still reeling from the aftermath of the fall out of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has taken a very different stance.
Even Hollywood, hardly a bastion of moral propriety, views Depp as ‘radioactive’ after he lost his momentous libel case over claims he was a ‘wife beater’. Within days of the High Court ruling he was dropped by Warner Bros from his role in Fantastic Beasts
The High Court trial heard evidence of Depp’s monumental drug and alcohol abuse, drastic mood swings and violent behaviour.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean star insisted that he was the real injured party but that was a difficult position to defend in a trial which heard that he had told his actor friend Paul Bettany that he wanted to burn and drown Heard and then ‘**** her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead’.
Whatever the evidence for Heard’s own temperament and substance abuse issues, they weren’t on trial as the judge made clear in his 132-page ruling. He refused Depp permission to appeal, although this week the actor’s legal team tried to overturn the ruling by applying directly to the Court of Appeal.
Depp is the epitome of manliness… he is ‘Sauvage…wild at heart’. That is the message behind the glossy advertisements for a famous Dior aftershave now appearing in print, on billboards and a TV commercial neatly timed for Christmas
Depp, 57, will also get the chance to revisit the issue of whether he is or isn’t a wife beater when he sues Heard for $50 million in a Virginia court next year for defaming him in a U.S. newspaper. It won’t be easy, however, as — unlike in the UK — the U.S. legal system places the burden of proof on him.
The showbusiness can of worms he has opened was laid bare yesterday when the Hollywood Reporter claimed that Depp will have to produce ‘all responsive communications’ with ex-girlfriends.
Depp’s lawyers will make further waves by calling Heard’s alleged lovers, actor James Franco and billionaire entrepreneur and creator of the Tesla electric car, Elon Musk, to give evidence on what Depp says was his wife’s infidelity.
Victory in Virginia may provide Depp with some personal satisfaction and a few bucks but it’s unlikely to save a film career that was derailed the moment Mr Justice Nicol ruled against him.
Within days, Warner Bros had removed him from his role as dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the next instalment of JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts franchise.
Given Rowling had stuck her neck out to defend Depp’s casting despite Heard’s allegations, it was embarrassing for her and humiliating U-turn.
The studio decided to recast the role halfway through the five-film series but had to pay Depp’s full salary of $16 million even though he had filmed only one scene.
(As with other top stars, he had a ‘pay-or-play contract’ which insists he be fully compensated while there was no ‘morality clause’ allowing the studio to sack him.)
That was just the start of his Tinseltown woes as even his staunchest allies ran for cover. According to the Hollywood Reporter — which boasts impeccable industry sources for its stories — he is ‘an out-of-control… casualty of Hollywood’s sycophant culture’.
A studio boss told the publication: ‘You simply can’t work with him now. He’s radioactive.’
Bearing out that bleak appraisal, Depp has also been dropped from the starring role in a big budget TV series about the escape artist Harry Houdini made by Hollywood mogul Jerry Bruckheimer.
The latter, who produced the Pirates blockbusters was regarded as Depp’s biggest supporter in the industry. He had wanted to bring Depp’s character, Captain Jack Sparrow, back in a cameo role in the next Pirates film but the studio, Walt Disney, kiboshed that idea even before the High Court trial.
Even in the films from which he hasn’t been ejected, Depp is a shadow of his former glory.
The widely acclaimed star of Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape earned around $650 million between 2003 and 2016, the year in which Heard sought a divorce, accusing him of having been ‘verbally and physically abusive’ throughout their relationship.
He remains the tenth-highest grossing star in terms of the takings of his films. However, for his latest film Minamata (about mercury poisoning in Japan), he was paid ‘just’ $3 million — rather less than the $40 million he made from each of his Pirates outings.
His standing in Hollywood hasn’t been helped by the fact that he managed to attach himself to a string of expensive flops in recent years, including his close friend Tim Burton’s 2016 Alice Through The Looking Glass and the box office howlers Transcendence and The Lone Ranger.
The hellraiser already had a reputation for lateness and misbehaviour. Early next year, Depp will be embroiled in yet another court case, this time brought by a crew member on the crime drama City Of Lies who claims a drunk Depp punched him twice on set.
Eric Schiffer, a crisis management publicist for top celebrities, says Depp ‘has suffered immense reputational carnage from a reckless set of choices that left him in septic muck’.
Can he ever get out of the mire?
Kate Moss, another of Depp’s celebrity exes, was dropped by Chanel and Burberry after she was embroiled in a cocaine scandal. However, the controversy simply cemented her ‘cool’ appeal and her stellar career continued apace.
May Dior and its owners be making the same cynical calculation?
According to a producer who recently worked with Depp, he’s ‘just never been told no for the past 35 years. That’s typical in Hollywood. But I’ve never seen it to this extent’.
Many people will be lamenting the failure of Dior to say ‘no’ to him either.