Thierry Frémaux must be having sleepless nights. Woody Allen and Roman Polanski will both have films ready for next year’s Cannes Film Festival, while Maïwenn Le Besco, director of Johnny Depp’s forthcoming movie La Favorite (about Louis XV and his mistress), is often a shoo-in for a Croisette appearance. Frémaux, director of the festival, would usually book them all – so will he hold his nerve and place Cannes in the centre of the culture wars?
The list goes on. Kevin Spacey was recently found not guilty of sexual assault by a New York court, and his performance as Gore Vidal, the last movie he made before allegations were made against him, is sitting on the shelf at Netflix. If he is found not guilty of five further charges in London next year – and he has denied them all – might that film appear? Could even James Franco, who settled a sexual-misconduct lawsuit for $2.2 million (£2 million) last year, and Armie Hammer, whose ex-girlfriends accused him of rape and cannibalistic fantasies but who faced no charges after a police investigation, find their way back to the screen?
The issue of whether to – and how to – rehabilitate cancelled stars is still Hollywood’s hottest potato. “I’ll avoid this one on anything except ‘deep background’,” one senior producer said over the phone. Hollywood is about both relationships and money, she went on to explain – but money usually comes first. “Short of an actual felony conviction, the question is, ‘Will they sell tickets?’”
PR veteran Mark Borkowski agrees that the bottom line eventually talks. “If there’s jail time or outspoken victims, it will be very hard. R Kelly and [Harvey] Weinstein aren’t coming back. [Yet] Depp and Allen haven’t been found guilty of, or sentenced for, anything. Social media is torn over Depp, especially TikTok, but 18 to 30-year-olds aren’t the Depp or Allen audience. I suspect older audiences will give them a chance – if the work’s good.”