Johnny Depp and Amber Heard spent the better part of their defamation trial throwing mud. And while Depp may have been awarded a sweeping legal victory on June 1, that victory could not erase years of a deteriorating public image amid his bitter divorce from Heard. The question is whether the verdict has brushed the dust off any studios rolling the dice in casting him.
After a six-week trial that revealed violent text messages and audio recordings caused riots, a Virginia jury sided with Depp in claiming that he was libeled when Heard wrote his application. washington articles in which she calls herself a victim of domestic abuse. Although Heard won one of her counterclaims regarding the charges – through Depp’s former attorney Adam Waldman – that her claim of abuse was a hoax, she was awarded only $2 million compared to Depp’s $15 million (later reduced to $10.35 million under her statutory limit) state for punitive damages).
The proceedings have attracted a large amount of international attention from traditional news outlets and social media. Many Hollywood insiders testified in the defamation trial, exposing some of the secrets of decision-making in the industry. Attorneys for both legal teams explored how the battle and events leading up to the defamation duel affected their careers.
Depp announced that he was transferred to another sequel to But the pirate of the Caribbean, which his agent testified would pay the actor $22.5 million and that he was blacklisted by Hollywood when the op-ed rose to prominence at the height of the #MeToo movement. . Heard, backed by her agent Jessica Kovacevic, announced that Warner Bros. reduced her role in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and put her aside in promoting Foothold because of bad press regarding her ex-husband having publicly accused her of lying about her abusive statements.
Now that the trial is over, several Hollywood insiders noted that neither Depp nor Heard were immediately able to get into the role. Their arrival comes with more public relations responsibilities that limit the promotion of potential projects. All the insiders who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter added that the trial and its media coverage will have a greater impact on Heard’s future career than Depp’s.
“Men make atonement easier than women,” said one representative, noting that Kevin Spacey, who is about to face sexual assault charges in the UK, was able to shoot a film that was then present at the 2022 Cannes Film Market. “People would say it’s because Hollywood is sexist. Our culture is sexist. Our business is a symbol of that culture. ”
A survey of 600 people in the US conducted from April 28 to June 2 by hedging startup Spotted Media indicated that Depp emerged from the test in a favorable light. much more than Heard. Of the respondents who knew about the lawsuit, 86% said Depp shouldn’t be removed from future works, while 64% said it should.
Spotted Communications Director Janet Comenos says there’s a healthy interest in reassessing cravings to pick Depp and Heard. “We have never seen an example before of a celebrity like Johnny Depp improving his standing to this extent,” Comenos noted, adding, “and we have never seen one. How could Amber Heard go through such a disastrous downfall scandal?”
Also affecting Heard was that when she entered the trial, she was not the same star as Depp, who led the billion-dollar series. “I think people would be wrong to accuse the trial of making her miss the role,” noted one producer. (During the trial, DC Films president Walter Hamada claims that Heard’s role in Aquaman the sequel, which hits theaters in March 2023, is not reduced by testing but by lack of chemistry with the stars. Jason Momoa.)
As for the types of projects that could use Depp, several sources note that while a studio likely won’t touch him, he will find opportunities in the sponsored cinema space. independent – the type of project that sees big-name stars removed or disgraced. (think Mel Gibson) show to set up in a few days earn a basic fee in the low millions. An agency partner said: “There are a lot of opportunities for him in the indie space. He can make up to $15 million a year from those select movies. ”
The rep also noted, “Say what you would say about Johnny, he’s proven to have a huge fan base.” During the trial, Depp fans are said to have used TikTok and YouTube with pro-Depp videos. Before that, Depp-fronted Minamatapremiered in select theaters in the US and grossed only $1.7 million at the box office, became the number 3 choice for the fan-favorite Oscars, receiving more votes on Twitter than blockbusters . Spider-Man: There’s no way home.
This fan base remains attractive to financial producers that trade in several types of independent products. But the box office tells a different story of Depp’s appeal to audiences at large. From 2012 to 2015 before Heard published his magazine, the four films Depp mentioned – Dark, The Lone Ranger, Transcendent and Mordecai – grossed just $199 million domestically on a $525 million budget. Three had a budget in nine figures that didn’t break even at the box office. He followed in 2016 with Alice through the looking glassearned only $300 million worldwide and cost Disney hundreds of millions of dollars, after its predecessor topped $1 billion at the box office.
Questions also lingered about Depp’s professionalism and manners on set. His former agent, UTA’s Tracey Jacobs, testified in court that “everyone was talking” about his substance abuse as he continued to arrive late to prepare and had to start wearing headphones to hear his lines. “His star has faded as it’s become increasingly difficult to get a job because of the reputation he’s earned from being late and other things,” Jacobs said, adding that it makes “people reluctant to use him.”
Depp is currently fighting a lawsuit by a crew member over this feature City of Lies Allegedly that the actor punched him twice while drunk. Depp is alleged to have used drugs on set and smelled of alcohol during the incident. The film was kicked out of theaters a month before its release, shortly after Depp settled a lawsuit against his former business managers, avoiding another high-profile trial.
Depp’s defamation lawsuit against Heard has revealed many inappropriate behaviors from the actor, including a long history of substance abuse and threats of violence. “Because of the way the testing went, you saw a lot of the dark side in Johnny Depp,” said Juda Engelmayera crisis management professional whose clients include Harvey Weinstein. “You’ve seen drinking problems. You have seen anger problems. He probably won’t get the male lead again in a family drama.”
Depp and Heard will likely have to wait until an appeal in their case is launched to find out their ranking in Hollywood. Heard said she plans to appeal the ruling, pointing to media hysteria about the trial as evidence that the jury was improperly influenced to vote against her.
Mia Galuppo and Borys Kit contributed to this report.
A version of this story appeared in the June 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.