Mr. Depp, who was introducing a screening of the 2004 film “The Libertine” — in which he played the womanizing poet John Wilmot, second earl of Rochester — acknowledged that his words would cause a storm.
“By the way, this is going to be in the press and it’ll be horrible,” he said. “It’s just a question; I’m not insinuating anything.”
Mr. Depp’s comments immediately drew rebukes, including from the White House.
On Friday afternoon, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, invoked Mr. Depp and Kathy Griffin, the comedian who last month appeared with a fake decapitated head of the president, in responding to a question about a Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Caesar” that has drawn criticism from Republicans for depicting a Trump-like Caesar being assassinated.
Mr. Spicer said he did not know if the president was aware of the play, but “whether it’s that or Johnny Depp’s comments,” there is a “troubling lack of outrage we’ve seen in some of these incidents.”
“The president’s made it clear that we should denounce violence in all of its forms, and if we’re going to hold to that standard than we should agree that that standard should be universally applied,” Mr. Spicer said.
On Friday, Mr. Depp apologized for his remarks in a statement to People magazine. “I apologize for the bad joke I attempted last night in poor taste about President Trump,” he said. “It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone.”
Critics had described the comments as particularly distasteful and dangerous given their timing. A gunman, believed to be upset about Mr. Trump’s election, opened fire last week at members of the Republican congressional baseball team in a Washington suburb.
“Secret Service, we have video evidence of Johnny Depp threatening to assassinate President Trump. Please do something!” an account…