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What Could Johnny Depp’s Legal Victory Mean for His and Amber Heard’s Careers?

Christell Fatima M. Tudtud
Jun 03, 2022
10:50 A.M.
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The jury has ruled in favor of Johnny Depp in the high-profile defamation case he filed against his ex-wife Amber Heard. The highly-publicized trial in a Virginia courtroom lasted for six weeks and sparked intense discussion on social media.

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Heard was present for the verdict while the "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor opted to watch from the UK. The defamation case stemmed from a Washington Post editorial penned by the actress in 2018, in which she described herself as "a public figure representing domestic abuse."

While Heard did not name Depp in the piece, the 58-year-old actor sued her, claiming she defamed her and demanded $50 million. With the verdict out, one wonders how both actors would fare in their careers going forward.

Johnny Depp testifies during his defamation trial in the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 19, 2022. | Source: Getty Images

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WHAT WILL JOHNNY DEPP’S LEGAL VICTORY MEAN FOR HIS AND AMBER HEARD’S CAREERS?

Jack Whigham, Depp's agent, described Heard's The Washington Post article as "catastrophic" for Depp's career. Depp, he said, lost the chance to appear in the sixth installment of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.

Depp also quit the third "Fantastic Beasts" film after losing a libel lawsuit he filed against The Sun, which branded him a "wife-beater." Accountant Michael Spindler, who testified during the U.S. trial, claimed that Heard's allegations cost Depp an estimated $40 million in lost earnings.

Likewise, Heard claimed that Depp's allegations badly affected her career. She said she fought to retain her starring role in the sequel to the 2018 superhero film "Aquaman." She added that only one other film cast her in the last two years.

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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the "Black Mass" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at The Elgin on September 14, 2015, in Toronto, Canada. | Source: Getty Images

But industry figures have earlier suggested that both actors' reduced acting work may have also resulted from other factors. Tracey Jacobs, Depp's former agent, testified that the actor's tardiness put his role in the sixth installment of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" at risk.

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For his part, Depp stated during cross-examination that he would decline if the management offered him to reprise his role in the film, despite starring in the hit franchise's six previous installments.

Johnny Depp listens to his legal team during the $50 million Depp vs Heard defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 14, 2022. | Source: Getty Images

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While the trial has ended, both actors' future prospects may not immediately improve, writes Andrew Pulver of The Guardian. Hollywood studios producing big-budget movies are not likely to hire Depp in the foreseeable future, with abuse accusations against him still lingering in people's minds.

Instead of big-budget movie productions, the actor may play roles in independent films, which would pay significantly less. Even before his reputation suffered, Depp appeared in smaller-scale films.

On the other hand, Heard, who played more supporting roles than leads in her career, may become more of an activist than an actor. Campaigns fighting against domestic abuse may keep her busy in the coming years, more than filming.

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WILL AMBER HEARD BE REMOVED FROM "AQUAMAN 2" DUE TO A PETITION?

A day after the verdict, an online petition to drop Heard from the "Aquaman" sequel has gained 4.5 million signatures. In the first film, Heard played Aquaman's love interest, Mera.

Director James Wan confirmed that the DC sequel's shooting had wrapped in January. The second "Aquaman" film is reportedly scheduled for release in March 2023.

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Heard earlier testified that she fought hard to keep her role in the film, with movie executives wanting to drop her after Depp's camp dismissed her abuse claims as lies.

Reacting to the petition's popularity, Heard's co-star Dolph Lundgren earlier shared that he had a great experience working with the embattled actress. She described her as kind and down-to-earth.

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WILL JOHNNY DEPP RETURN AS JACK SPARROW?

Depp shot to fame for playing Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney's five "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. He also scored an Oscar nomination for the franchise's 2003 movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."

As for Depp's fate in the franchise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer said that two new scripts for the new "Pirates” sequels are in the works, but the scripts did not contain Depp's involvement.

When asked if Depp would reprise his iconic role in the future, Bruickhiemer said Depp could not go back "at this time." The producer added that the "future has yet to be determined.

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