Maïwenn and Johnny Depp charm audience at Red Sea Jeanne du Barry Q&A – Deadline

French director Maïwenn and Johnny Depp hit Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival on Friday for a special screening of the Saudi-backed period romance Jeanne du Barry followed by a Q&A.

Maïwenn co-wrote, directed and stars as the titular courtesan opposite Depp in the role of King Louis XV, who falls in love with du Barry and establishes her at the Court of Versailles as his last official mistress.

Red Sea Head of International Programming Kaleem Aftab, who moderated the Q&A, found himself in hot water when he said he had found parts of the film “very funny”.

“You find it funny? It’s a love story. He’s dying. Did you see the film?.” asked Maïwenn, before putting the question out to the audience.

Depp joked to Aftab: “Keep digging. I do have a small shovel downstairs.”

The drama, which world premiered as the opening film of the Cannes Film Festival this year, was one of the first international films to secure Red Sea Film Foundation backing at the beginning of this year.

Maïwenn and Depp were on good form as they fielded questions on the inspiration and making of the film.

They shared their thoughts on the challenge of directing and filming at the same time, an experience Depp has also tried on his 1997 film The Brave.

Maïwenn suggested it had been unsettling for Depp when she moved between “being the boss” on set and then switching over to performing a romantic scene.

“One minute, I’m telling Johnny, do that and shut up and then I’m saying, ‘Kiss me’. For him, it was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m not kissing you.’”

Depp expressed admiration for the way Maïwenn had moved between the two activities.

“They’re such opposing things. It was great that Maïwenn had the ability to move herself from the dream that was on the monitor. That’s a gift if you can step away from the actor, if you’re directing the thing.

“The actor in a weird way should almost do his best to clear his head of everything, so you’re not aware of what’s happening around you, you’re in the scene. But a director has to be aware of everything that’s going on, everything that’s happening.”

Talking about Depp’s process for getting into character, Maïwenn revealed he had listened to different music for different scenes in the film to get into the mood.

“For the king’s death. He was listening to Bach,” she said.

Maïwenn admitted that she knew it would be challenging to direct and act but that she knew she would have suffered more to see another actress take on the role.

“I knew Jeanne by heart. I felt there were similarities between us and I decided that between the two sufferings. It was better to do both and regret it, than not do both and regret it.”

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