Johnny Depp received Serbia’s Gold Medal of Merit during a ceremony honoring Serbian Statehood Day in Belgrade, Serbia on Tuesday (Feb. 15). The actor, who had a dramatic fall from grace after he lost a libel case against The Sun regarding allegations of abusing his ex-wife Amber Heard, was awarded the honor by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić for “outstanding merits in public and cultural activities, especially in the field of film art and the promotion of the Republic of Serbia in the world,” per the website Balkan Insight.
“I truly, sincerely thank you, President Vučić, and this medal of merit, if I am given the honor to walk away with this, I thank you for being kind enough to bestow it upon me,” Johnny said during the ceremony. “I will stay true to it and I will do everything in my power to make this the embodiment of my commitment here.” He explained that he’s “on the verge of a new life” before adding, “I like a re-beginning and I would love for that beginning to start here in Serbia, if you’ll have me.”
The Oscar-nominated actor, who has worked on Serbian-related projects in the past, including the 2020 film Minimata, went on to say he’s “extremely proud” for being recognized. “I don’t have lots to say, I’m not a good talker,” Johnny expressed. “But from the bottom of my heart, from the very core of me, I humbly and [with] great humility accept this huge honor and I will never let it down.”
The award comes after the Pirates of the Caribbean alum lost his infamous November 2020 libel case, where he sued Britain’s The Sun newspaper over a 2018 article that referred to Johnny as a “wife beater.” Despite Johnny vehemently denying he abused Amber, a judge decided the outlet’s claims were “substantially true.” Amid the fallout, Johnny lost his lucrative deal with Disney to act in Fantastic Beasts 3. Johnny has since spoken out about being a victim of “cancel culture.” Meanwhile, the actor is still proceeding with a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Amber.