Johnny Depp Forms Strange But Genuine 'Bromance' With Saudi Prince

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud is reportedly hoping to hire Depp to promote the country's "cultural renaissance.

Johnny Depp has reportedly struck up a surprising friendship with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Vanity Fair published an extensive article on this "epic bromance" on Wednesday, noting that both men are mired in controversies – albeit very different kinds of controversies. The friendship apparently began when Saudi Arabia's culture minister made a massive investment in Depp's film Jeanne du Barry.

Insiders say that Depp was filming the historical drama Jeanne du Barry in the summer of 2022 when the culture minister, Prince Badr bin Farhan Al Saud, asked to meet with him. Depp refused initially, but because of the prince's financial stake in the movie, producers urged Depp to take the meeting. After a few days he acquiesced, and within a few months, Prince Badr introduced Depp to his cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. Before long, the 60-year-old actor and the 38-year-old head of state would form a genuine friendship that would surprise their friends on both sides.

"They made a genuine connection," one friend of Depp said. "It's a shock to many of the people who know [Depp], but it's what happened."

The Crown Prince – often referred to simply as "MBS" by the press – is known for his extravagant lifestyle, his singular urge to bolster the cultural and economic power of his country, and his disinterest in collaborating with other world leaders. He is regarded as an authoritarian ruler, notably blamed by the CIA for the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 – though MBS denies this accusation. He has also cultivated relationships with Russia and China while getting into diplomatic spats with Canada and Qatar, and ordering a bloody military intervention in Yemen in 2015.

Depp has been spending a lot of time with MBS, with over seven weeks total spent in Saudi Arabia as his guest. That includes prolonged stays at palaces, trips on yachts and helicopters and visits to camps within the country. Depp's reputation is not doing well either – though he won the televised trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard, it may have had a net-negative impact on his public profile in the long run. In spite of what the jury decided, many fans are still prone to believe some of the allegations of domestic abuse leveled against Depp over the years.

Now, insiders say that Depp is considering a job offer from MBS. They say the prince has offered Depp a seven-figure annual contract to promote Saudi Arabia's "cultural renaissance." MBS has been working hard to change laws like the ban on female drivers, hoping that Saudi Arabia can rely on tourism to bolster the economy as reliance on oil dwindles.

If that offer really exists, Depp doesn't sound like he plans to turn it down. In a statement given to Vanity Fair, he said: "Though I admit I was somewhat naive at first to what was transpiring in the region, I've since experienced firsthand the cultural revolution that is happening there-from emerging young storytellers radiating fresh ideas and works of art to a blossoming film infrastructure and a newfound curiosity for innovation. I've had the opportunity to meet people from various parts of the region who have been most welcoming in sharing with me their culture, their traditions, and their stories."

Depp isn't the only actor spending more time in Saudi Arabia recently as the country tries to entice Hollywood productions with favorable rebates. However, the reports of his personal friendship with MBS are very unique. There's no telling if he'll accept the rumored contract to promote the country's changing culture, nor whether such a deal would even be announced publicly.