Actor Johnny Depp is on clean-up duty after joking Thursday about assassinating President Donald Trump. He’s now saying he “intended no malice” with the violent quip.
“I apologize for the bad joke I attempted last night in poor taste about President Trump,” he said in a statement obtained by People magazine. “It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone.”
While he was introducing a screening of his 2004 movie “Libertine” on Thursday at the Glastonbury Festival in the United Kingdom, Depp began joking about the Republican president, whom the actor said “needs help.”
“I think he needs help and there are a lot of wonderful dark, dark places he could go,” the actor said.
As the audience responded — some cheering, some booing — to Depp’s joke, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star continued: “It is just a question. I’m not insinuating anything. By the way, this is going to be in the press. It will be horrible. I like that you are all a part of it."
“When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” he asked, referring to actor John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. “Now, I want to clarify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it has been a while and maybe it is time.”
The White House condemned the 54-year-old actor’s off-color joke in a statement Friday afternoon.
“President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and it’s sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead,” the statement, first published by Variety, read. “I hope that some of Mr. Depp’s colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if his comments were directed to a Democrat-elected official.”
And in a statement to the Washington Post, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said joking about killing the president is “no laughing matter.”
“These things are real,” she said, calling Depp a “nut job” and contending that his comments were “not a slip of the tongue.” Words like Depp’s could “easily inflame lunatics who wish to bring harm,” Conway added.
Depp’s widely criticized joke comes one week after a 66-year-old gunman who frequently shared on social media his hatred for Trump opened fire on Republican lawmakers during a GOP congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The June 14 shooting left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) in critical condition.
Scalise, who has been in the hospital since the attack, was moved out of intensive care Friday. Officials with the MedStar Washington Hospital, where the GOP lawmaker is being treated, said Wednesday that Scalise is in “fair” condition.