Warner Bros. Pictures reportedly is now thinking about deleting Amber Heard’s scenes from next year’s Aquaman sequel, as a result of last Wednesday’s verdict in the dueling Johnny Depp and Amber Heard libel lawsuits.
News reports cite reliable industry insider KC Walsh as saying studio executives recently met to discuss keeping negative publicity away from the film, which currently is scheduled to open in theaters in March 2023. Heard, who reprises her role of the Marvel superhero’s wife Mera in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, filmed most of her scenes in London last Fall. If she is written out, it remains to be seen whether her character would be killed off or reshot with another actress.
Depp’s career as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts films appears to be history, with no apparent films for him on the horizon. Depp, a three-time Best Actor Oscar nominee, hasn’t been in a major movie since 2018. In February, Heard completed filming in Italy of the 1890s supernatural thriller In The Fire.
It was last Wednesday that, in a unanimous vote, a jury in northern Virginia ruled that Heard and Depp both defamed one another in their respective libel lawsuits, in a trial that since April had been a media spectacle due to the sensational details of alleged bad behavior from both individuals. The jury’s decision to award $10 million in compensatory damages to Depp, compared to a $2 million compensatory award to Heard, signaled that they found Heard’s defamation considerably more damaging than Depp’s. The jury also awarded Depp $5 million in punitive damages, although by Virginia law, punitive damages are limited to $350,000.
Depp’s suit was filed over a December 2018 Washington Post op-ed Heard wrote, describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although Heard didn’t mention Depp by name in the article, Depp, who met Heard in 2009 and were married from 2015-16, claims it cost him lucrative acting roles. In 2020, Depp lost a libel suit against the Sun newspaper in the United Kingdom over a 2018 article that called him a wife beater. The judge in that case ruled that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence against Heard occurred.
Heard says she plans to appeal the U.S. verdict, with Depp saying he will appeal the U.K. verdict.