British actress Dame Emma Thompson has said that Amber Heard’s blockbuster sex assault libel battle against Johnny Depp was ‘not representative’ of the wider MeToo movement.
The Oscar-winning star, 63, has suggested that the high-profile US court fight between the two Hollywood stars risked ‘derailing’ MeToo unless women continue to ‘keep on talking’.
Critics of the movement declared ‘the end of MeToo’ after a jury in Virginia found that Heard had defamed Depp by describing herself as a survivor of domestic abuse in a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post.
But others fear that the outcome of the £100million trial will ‘silence hundreds of thousands’ of women who have been attacked by sex predators – particularly in cases involving the rich and powerful.
Asked by BBC Woman’s Hour if the case signalled the end of MeToo, Dame Emma – who has been one of the most vocal advocates of the movement since it erupted in 2017 – said: ‘One of the things that’s very difficult to do is judge an issue like the MeToo issue brings to the fore when you’re dealing with very very famous people. It’s a whole other thing.
‘So actually one of the great issues to do with that case is fame and how people who are famous are treated differently and viewed differently.
Dame Emma Thompson, pictured on the set of ITV’s Lorraine show on June 8, 2022
Amber Heard testifying in her defamation trial against Johnny Depp at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia on May 26, 2022
This image released by Searchlight Pictures shows Daryl McCormack, left, and Emma Thompson from the film Good Luck To You, Leo Grande
‘I would say that the MeToo movement is not going to be derailed by that, but in order for it not to be derailed, we just have to keep on talking. We have to keep on talking and refuse to allow it to be derailed by a case where two very very very famous people, which has been blown out of all remote human proportion by the press… that’s something that can’t be avoided.
‘But a case where the two protagonists are that famous is not representative, and it’s just very important to remember that.
‘This movement, which is about human kindness and is so simple really and has been made so complicated, cannot and will not be derailed by one case, and that’s not going to happen actually, it simply won’t happen.’
Dame Emma has been one of the most famous proponents of MeToo since the phenomenon exploded across the West following claims of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s abuse of women.
In an interview with BBC Newsnight in 2017, she called Weinstein a ‘predator’ and suggested that more like him existed in Hollywood.
‘Perhaps this is a moment when we can say to men and women: Open your eyes and open your mouths and say something… I do see and hear a lot of voices, and I do want to add mine to theirs and say that Hollywood can and must change,’ Dame Emma said.
When asked by Emily Maitlis if there are others in the industry ‘to [Weinstein’s] degree’, Dame Emma said: ‘Do they all have to be as bad as him to make it count? Does it only count if you have done it to loads and loads of women, or does it count if you have done it to one woman, once. I think the latter.’
This image released by Searchlight Pictures shows Emma Thompson, left, and Daryl McCormack in a scene from Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Dame Emma’s new film Good Luck to You, Leo Grande explores female sexuality and pleasure
In an interview with the LA Times two years later, Dame Emma blasted complaints that MeToo has left men unsure of how to behave towards women.
‘Get a grip guys, it’s not rocket science. You just behave with respect and courtesy. Now shut up and get on with it. And please don’t make this your … problem. I’m so fed up with that,’ she said.
Speaking to BBC Woman’s Hour, Dame Emma also revealed that she was ‘constantly told’ that she ‘didn’t look right’ by the movie industry and called for ‘parity in all aspects of production’.
The British star, whose new film Good Luck to You, Leo Grande explores female sexuality and pleasure, said that sex has been ‘industrialised’ and warned that the suppression of pleasure was ‘at the root’ of much violence.
She also called young people’s expectations of sex ‘disturbing’ while promoting the movie.
Dame Emma added: ‘I deeply resent the fact that my attitude to my body and my comfort in my body was taken from me – I think literally taken away from me – when I was very young.
‘And I worked in a profession where I was constantly told that I didn’t look right, that I didn’t have the right kind of body, that all of the 99% of male executives would not be interested anyway, in me in that way.
‘Until we get much more parity in all aspects of production, that will continue to remain the same… Certainly in television presenting, the issues remain the same.’