Johnny Depp has sparked controversy for joking about assassinating Donald Trump during an appearance at a large festival in Britain, the latest example of artists using violent imagery when dealing with the president.
“When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” Depp asked the crowd at Glastonbury Festival, in reference to the death of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in 1865.
The 54-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean star then added: “I want to qualify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it has been awhile and maybe it is time.”
“President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and it’s sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead,” the White House said in a statement, as quoted by ABC News. “I hope that some of Mr. Depp’s colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if his comments were directed to a Democrat elected official.”
The Secret Service in a statement said Friday it “is aware of the comments in question. For security reasons, we cannot discuss specifically nor in general terms the means and methods of how we perform our protective responsibilities.”
Depp was at the festival Thursday to introduce a screening of his 2004 film, The Libertine. He played Trump last year in a Funny or Die video parody of the businessman’s 1987 book, The Art of the Deal.
He seemed to know his comments were going to get him into trouble, prefacing his remarks with, “By the way, this is going to be in the press. It will be horrible.” Depp’s remarks came eight days after a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers as they practiced for a charity baseball game.
Depp’s remarks come weeks after The Public Theater in New York was criticized for its production of Julius Caesar that portrayed a Trump-like dictator in a business suit with a long tie who gets knifed to death onstage. The theater said it never advocates violence as a solution to political problems.
The show followed condemnation for comedian Kathy Griffin, who lost her job co-hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve special and had all her upcoming comedy shows canceled after posing for a photograph in which she gripped a likeness of the president’s severed, bloody head. Pop star Madonna also was criticized for saying at a rally that she had thought “an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”
Musicians have also gone after the president, with a Snoop Dogg video of him shooting a Trump-look-alike clown and Moby putting out a video in which Trump resembles a Nazi-like Iron Man who takes over the world with a missile-firing machine shaped like a swastika and dollar symbol.
Trump’s election has not quieted many in the arts community who assailed the candidate, with Robert De Niro saying he’d “like to punch” Trump “in the face,” Carly Simon repurposing her song “You’re So Vain” into an anti-Trump anthem and singer-rapper Will.i.am’s damning video “GRAB’m by the ….”
Other presidents have found themselves the target of celebrity ire, including George W. Bush, who was attacked by the Dixie Chicks and by Kanye West, who famously said Bush “doesn’t care about black people.”