Hollywood star Johnny Depp reportedly has a new and seemingly unlikely good friend who boasts royal stature but has a dubious international reputation.
Depp is said to have developed a “bromance” with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, who is reviled by Western liberals over his purported role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamaal Khashoggi, the Daily Mail reported.
The Hollywood actor, meanwhile, is still dealing with the fallout of the reputational hit he suffered during his recent bitter legal fights against ex-wife actress Amber Heard.
The “bromance” between Depp and MBS
Vanity Fair reported that the friendship between Depp and MBS began shortly after the actor was visited on the set of a movie he was filming in France, Jeanne du Barry — in which Depp portrays French King Louis XV — by Saudi Arabia’s culture minister, Prince Badr bin Farhan Al Saud.
Badr, who’d overseen Saudi financing of the film’s production, sought to introduce Depp to his cousin, the crown prince, and though the actor was initially hesitant, he eventually agreed to a meeting months later that sparked a “genuine” friendship between the two.
The outlet reported that Depp and MBS bonded over their shared position of quickly transforming from “golden boy to outcast” in the public eye — Depp due to the allegations of domestic abuse from Heard, MBS due to the murder of Khashoggi and his kingdom’s terrible record on human rights abuses.
But they also reportedly shared a love of the arts and film and music, and Depp was said to have been intrigued by MBS’s substantial reform plans for Saudi Arabia, and the actor reportedly spent nearly two months total last year hanging out with the crown prince in palaces and touring the kingdom on yachts and helicopters and private planes.
Depp is also reportedly considering a seven-figure offer to serve unofficially as a cultural ambassador for the kingdom, in which he will promote the country’s reform measures and try to woo other big stars to come to Saudi Arabia for major events and to film movies.
The killing of Khashoggi
At one point in their developing “bromance,” Vanity Fair reported, while spending a late night hanging out on MBS’s yacht, Depp directly asked the crown prince about what really happened with Khashoggi.
Saudi citizen Khashoggi, an occasional columnist for The Liberal Washington Post and outspoken critic of the Saudi regime, was reportedly drugged, murdered, and dismembered by Saudi operatives at the Saudi embassy in Turkey in 2018 — a murder that sparked fury among Western media and governments that was allegedly traced directly back to MBS, according to CNN.
Per Vanity Fair’s sources, MBS denied to Depp that he had ordered the killing of Khashoggi but ultimately accepted responsibility for the death, the same response he has consistently delivered publicly over the past several years.
He instead explained that he had ordered the arrest of the “rogue operative” with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood but that “overeager underlings” had gone too far in killing the journalist.
Biden administration declares MBS enjoys “sovereign immunity” from U.S.-based lawsuits
It is worth noting that for all of the accusations and invectives hurled at MBS — President Joe Biden swore on the campaign trail that he would make the crown prince and Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the world stage — the Biden administration has not taken any serious punitive actions against the kingdom and even seemed to defend MBS in court, according to a 2022 NBC News report.
Indeed, after Khashoggi’s fiance and a human rights group he founded filed a lawsuit in Washington D.C. against MBS, the Biden administration declared in a legal filing that the crown prince enjoyed “sovereign immunity” and couldn’t be sued — a legal move more likely based on diplomatic reasons, like preventing Americans overseas from facing similar foreign lawsuits, and to keep the Saudi oil flowing in the global markets.
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Author: Ben Marquis
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