Rihanna faces backlash for casting Johnny Depp in new Savage X Fenty show

Oscar Holland, CNNUpdated: Fri, 04 Nov 2022 09:56:20 GMTSource: CNNActor Johnny Depp is set to appear in Rihanna's new Savage X Fenty fashion show, sparking online outrage and calls to boycott th

Oscar Holland, CNN

Updated: Fri, 04 Nov 2022 09:56:20 GMT

Source: CNN

Actor Johnny Depp is set to appear in Rihanna's new Savage X Fenty fashion show, sparking online outrage and calls to boycott the singer's lingerie brand.

The 59-year-old actor, who claimed he was backlisted by Hollywood amid his high-profile legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard, has already filmed his cameo in the runway extravaganza, which debuts on Amazon's Prime Video next week. Although Depp is not named in press materials or the show's trailer, his appearance has been confirmed directly by CNN. Neither representatives for Rihanna nor Amazon immediately responded to requests for comment about the decision to cast Depp.

Described by Amazon as a "seductive fashion fever dream," the fourth edition of the label's star-studded show features performances by Anitta and Burna Boy, as well as appearances from Cara Delevingne, Simu Liu and TikTok star Bella Poarch. Once news of Depp's involvement emerged, fans began calling for Rihanna to remove his scenes.

"Editing team better be out here deleting this man out of this," read one response to a post promoting the show on Savage X Fenty's Instagram account.

On Twitter, users expressed their disapproval using the hashtag #DitchDepp, with some threatening to boycott the label. Music producer Drew Dixon described the decision to cast the actor as "really disappointing," while British singer and actor Olly Alexander — who has previously collaborated with Savage X Fenty on a social media campaign — announced on social media that he "won't be wearing" the brand any longer.

With the show not due to stream until Wednesday, some commenters questioned whether Depp would even make the final cut. "For those outraged, I would wait and see if this actually happens," tweeted author Art Tavana. "This isn't how Rihanna rolls. Her branding is bulletproof."

Following his divorce in 2017, Depp sued Heard for $50 million over a Washington Post op-ed in which she described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse."

Heard then countersued him for $100 million, leading to an explosive televised trial in which both were found liable for defamation, though the jury awarded significantly larger damages to Depp.

Heard maintains that Depp abused her during their marriage, a claim the "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor has consistently denied. Depp has also said that he was the victim of domestic violence — a claim that some of his supporters compared to Rihanna's own experience of abuse while in a relationship with singer Chris Brown. "Survivors supporting survivors," wrote one Twitter user in support of the singer's casting choice.

During the six-week trial, Depp claimed that Heard's accusations had led to him being dropped from future "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. The actor also lost his role in the "Fantastic Beasts" movie franchise following his unsuccessful UK libel case against a British newspaper over domestic violence allegations.

Depp has nonetheless made several high-profile appearances in the months since June's verdict. In August, he made a surprise cameo at MTV's Video Music Awards, where a video of his face was superimposed onto a life-sized Moonman floating above the stage. "I just want you guys to know that I'm available for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, weddings, wakes — any old thing you need," he joked to the audience.

In his first major return to screens, Depp is set to appear as King Louis XV in the forthcoming French movie "La Favorite." He has also reprised his voice role as Johnny Puff in the animated TV series "Puffins Impossible," and is set to direct a film about Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, according to both Deadline and the Hollywood Reporter.

Savage X Fenty, which also makes men's underwear, has been praised in the past for its inclusive sizing and diverse casting.

Top image: Johnny Depp pictured at his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard, at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, April 27, 2022.