The intended meaning behind Johnny Depp's Quasimodo quote explained

Bruno Cooke April 20, 2022
The intended meaning behind Johnny Depp's Quasimodo quote explained
Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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Johnny Depp testified in Fairfax, Virginia, yesterday to share his side of the story in his court battle with former wife Amber Heard.

The actor is suing Heard for defamation over an essay she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018. One quote from Johnny Depp’s testimony has stuck out for some – so here’s the meaning behind the actor’s “Quasimodo” and “Cinderella” references.

What did Johnny Depp say about Cinderella and Quasimodo during his testimony yesterday?

“It’s been six years of trying times,” Depp said during his testimony yesterday (Tuesday, 19 April 2022). 

“One day you’re Cinderella and then in zero point six seconds you’re Quasimodo. I didn’t deserve that and neither did my children.”

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Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Most people know Cinderella from the 1950 Disney cartoon – or one of numerous adaptations. Originally, however, it was a folk tale about a young woman whose forsaken circumstances swiftly change and she ascends the throne via marriage. The earliest iteration of the Cinderella narrative is likely the story of Rhodopis.

But who is Quasimodo? He is the main protagonist in Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback Of Notre-Dame. As with Cinderella, however, many will know him from Disney’s 1996 animated film of the same name.

What is the meaning of Johnny Depp’s Quasimodo and Cinderella quote?

In English-language folklore, Cinderella has become an archetypal name. In other words, it can refer to more than just a character in a story.

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The name Cinderella has come to mean someone who achieves recognition after a period of obscurity. By the end of the story, Cinderella has risen from humble beginnings to being happy, loved and recognised. 

In contrast, Quasimodo is a hunchback who is feared by his townspeople. They see him as a monster. Like Cinderella, Quasimodo has become a symbolic figure. 

What Johnny Depp is likely to have meant by saying he had gone from being Cinderella to Quasimodo was that he went from feeling loved and appreciated – like the Disney princess – to being feared and reviled, like Victor Hugo’s hunchback.

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How to stay up to date with the trial

Johnny Depp’s high-profile, $50 million lawsuit against former wife Amber Heard is ongoing. 

It is taking place at Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia. CourtTV is providing livestream coverage from the courtroom. Watch it via YouTube here.

The trial is running from Monday to Thursday, with Fridays off – as reported by Deadline. It is set to run for five weeks, with a pause from 9 to 12 May.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.