Journalist speaks out after being spat on by Johnny Depp’s Cannes film director Maïwenn

French director admitted to assaulting journalist earlier this month

Tom Murray
Wednesday 17 May 2023 05:00 BST
Brie Larson responds to question about Johnny Depp at Cannes Film Festival

The journalist whom French director/actor Maïwenn admitted to assaulting earlier this year has commented publicly on the incident for the first time.

Maïwenn’s latest film Jeanne du Barry, starring Johnny Depp, controversially opens Cannes Film Festival today (16 May).

It marks Depp’s first lead role since his highly publicised defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard last year.

Mediapart magazine editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel filed a police complaint on 7 March, which accused Maïwenn of spitting on him while he was dining at a restaurant.

Speaking to Variety, Plenel said he believes the filmmaker’s alleged actions were due to his publication’s reporting on the rape and sexual assault allegations against Luc Besson. Maïwenn married the Léon: The Professional director when she was 16 years old. The two divorced in 1997.

“That was about five years [ago],” Plenel said of their investigation, which included allegations against Besson from nine women. “That would mean that for all this time, Maïwenn wanted to take her revenge. But if that’s the case, why didn’t she send an email? [We] never even got a phone call from her.”

Johnny Depp and Maïwenn attend the ‘Jeanne du Barry’ screening and opening ceremony red carpet at the 76th annual Cannes film festival (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

He continued: “I don’t know Maïwenn, I never met her. I would have been unable to recognise her.

“This aggression caused more stupor than anything else. She didn’t aggress me individually, but the symbol that I represent, as the founder and director of a journal, which in France, has been at the forefront of all the #MeToo revelations.

“She’s outspokenly anti-#MeToo and she made a gesture to please her world, and that’s why she bragged about it on TV. We could see a sort of pride that echoed that world.”

The Independent has reached out to Maïwenn’s attorney for comment.

Maïwenn admitted to the assault during an appearance on the French chat show Quotidien earlier this month.

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“I didn’t receive a complaint. I learned about it in the press,” the director said of Plenel’s police complaint.

Johnny Depp in ‘Jeanne du Barry’ (Le Pacte)

“And did you assault him?” presenter Yann Barthès asked.

“Yes,” she replied, laughing as she refrained from explaining why.

“Nice try, but it’s not the moment for me to talk about it. I’ll talk about it when it’s the right moment. I am very anxious about the launch of my film,” she said.

Maïwenn also stars in Jeanne du Barry, which tells the story of King Louis XV’s mistress Jeanne Vaubernier.

This week, Cannes juror Brie Larson was taken aback when asked by a journalist about her thoughts on the film opening the festival.

Depp has not been cast in a major US film since his 2018 lawsuit against The Sun, which he lost after a UK court ruled that the tabloid’s description of him as a “wife beater” was “substantially true”.

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