Hollywood actor Johnny Depp has said he tried to talk the director of his latest film out of casting him as King Louis XV.

The Hollywood star returned to the red carpet in London on Monday night for the UK premiere of his first feature film since the conclusion of his high-profile defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard.

Historical drama Jeanne Du Barry, in which Depp, 60, stars as King Louis XV, received a seven-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2023.

The film follows the life of Jeanne, played by French actress Maiwenn, a working-class woman who uses her intelligence and allure to climb the social hierarchy, eventually landing on the radar of France’s King Louis XV.

Jeanne Du Barry UK premiere – London
Terry Gilliam and Johnny Depp arrive for the UK premiere of Jeanne Du Barry (Ian West/PA)

The project, which was also co-written and directed by Maiwenn, is Depp’s first major onscreen appearance since the defamation case.

Speaking on stage at the premiere, the actor, from Owensboro, Kentucky, told the audience he was surprised when he was approached for the role.

He said: “Instantly what happens in your brain is that you go back to eastern Kentucky … you realise that you come from the ‘ombelico’, ‘nombril’, the belly button of nowhere and you’re playing the king of France,” according to Hollywood trade publication Deadline.

Jeanne Du Barry UK premiere – London
Johnny Depp signed autographs as he arrived at the premiere (Ian West/PA)

“It made no sense to me, I tried to talk her out of it. She wasn’t hearing it, and she had great courage to take me into her cast.”

In 2022 Depp successfully sued his former partner over a 2018 article she wrote for The Washington Post about her experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse, which his lawyers said falsely accused him of being an abuser.

Jeanne Du Barry UK premiere – London
Maiwenn and Johnny Depp (Ian West/PA)

It followed a damning ruling by the High Court in London in 2020 that found he assaulted Heard and left her in “fear for her life”.

On Monday night the Oscar-nominated actor reunited with British director Terry Gilliam, 83, who directed Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, which starred Depp as main character Raoul Duke.

Jeanne Du Barry UK premiere – London
Johnny Depp wore a grey coat over a black suit to the premiere (Ian West/PA)

In clips shared on social media, Depp jokingly presents Gilliam to the photographers and videographers gathered around as director Tim Burton, whom Depp has worked with on films including 1990’s Edward Scissorhands and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street in 2007.

Gilliam, who is known for being a part of the original Monty Python crew, also directed Depp in his 2009 film The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus.