Johnny Depp’s victory in his legal action against amber heard, and her victory on one of the counts in her countersuit against him, may have ended the six-week spectacle in which the pair exchanged bitter and often alarming accusations of abuse and assault. Now, however, the focus will be on the consequences, including the possible repercussions on their careers.
Indeed, the future prospects of each actor were central to the trial itself: it is worth noting that the legal action was not a criminal case, or a battle over a child’s residence, but one for defamation, in which each side he tried to show that his reputation was so good. damaged by the other that harmed his career and his earning potential. Both Depp and Heard called witnesses to testify to the effect of the other’s accusations on exactly this issue, and the witness testimony put considerations about the state of each star’s career into the public arena.
Depp launched this defamation action after Heard published an article in the Washington Post in 2018 in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse,” without mentioning Depp’s name; Heard countersued, also for defamation, with both claiming lost contracts and income.
The trial has exposed the short-term consequences for the careers of both actors in what has offered a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Hollywood. Depp’s agent, Jack Whigham. He described the impact of Heard’s article as “catastrophic” for Depp’s career, testifying that the actor missed out on appearing in the sixth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series for which he would have earned $23 million. Another witness, accountant Michael Spindler, said Depp had lost about $40 million as a result of Heard’s accusations. Depp also resigned from the third Fantastic Beasts movie after he lost a libel suit against the Sun in 2020 after the newspaper called him a “wife beater.”
Heard also said that his career had been severely affected by Depp’s accusationssaying she had to “fight” to retain her role as Mera in the 2018 superhero movie sequel Aquaman, and has only been cast in one other film in the last two years.
In both cases, however, industry figures have suggested that other factors were at play in the curtailment of her acting work. Depp’s former agent Tracey Jacobs testified that his future involvement in Pirates of the Caribbean 6 was already at risk due to his “behavior” including being late on set: “Crews don’t love sitting around for hours and hours and hours waiting for the star to show up.” In addition, Depp admitted during cross-examination from Heard’s attorney that he wouldn’t work on a new Pirates movie even if he was offered one.
By contrast, top Hollywood executive Walter Hamada, president of Warner Bros.’s DC Films unit, testified that Heard’s role in Aquaman 2 was reduced due to a “lack of chemistry” between her and the film’s star, Jason Momoa.
In reality, the issuance of a verdict is not likely to drastically improve the future prospects of either. Major Hollywood studios will be wary of hiring an actor with so many harrowing abuse allegations against him, so it’s likely that Depp, by far the more successful and high-profile actor of the two, won’t find work in a movie. mainstream big-budget in for the foreseeable future, especially since its own workers are increasingly activist and might well refuse to work on a Depp project, like Hatchette did with Woody Allen’s autobiography.
However, the same restrictions will not apply to independent producers: the examples of Mel Gibson and Kevin Spacey show that it is possible for actors to continue to secure roles in smaller-scale films despite being mired in scandal. Throughout his career, Depp has always shown a predilection for smaller, more unusual films and will no doubt continue to make them, albeit at reduced fees. Inevitably, perhaps, the sheer number of Depp’s ardent following on social media would lead the producers to conclude that there is indeed a market for a Depp product.
Heard, on the other hand, is in a different position: Her acting career has largely comprised a series of supporting roles, with occasional leads in smaller movies like the 2006 slasher All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. Her most recent lead role, as Nicola Six in Martin Amis’ adaptation London Fields, collapsed into ignominy after the director and producers fell out and filed legal suits against each other, with Heard also sued for the producers. reach an agreement in 2018. Heard’s acting career was enhanced by her association with Depp (although she strongly refuted the claims that Depp “got” him the role in Aquaman), and ever since that connection was severed, his career momentum accordingly waned.
It is more likely that Heard’s outspoken defense of victims of domestic abuse is the key to her future activities: as, for example, with actress and activist Rose McGowan, she now has a considerably higher profile as an activist than as an actress. and might well wish to concentrate its efforts in that area.
Depp still has considerable support in Hollywood, though few are prepared to go on the record. A source told The Guardian: “I think he will go back to work. People love him and with the right project he can still open a movie.” However, Depp’s situation may well change if, as with Spacey, criminal charges are brought against him as a result of Heard’s assault allegations.