No matter what the outcome of their $50 million lawsuit and Heard’s $100 million countersuit, the fate of their respective careers will be decided by the public’s opinion, according to Hollywood insiders.
No matter if what is happening is fair or not, the support Depp has been getting on social media during the trial- especially on TikTok- may help him in the future.
An industry that is forgiving
There are many things that need to happen once the legal battle is over for both actors.
Heard testified that Depp was verbally and physically abusive during their relationship. She also accused Depp of sexually assaulting her.
Depp denied Heard’s allegation of sexual battery and called himself a victim of domestic abuse by Heard, which she denies.
Depp and Heard met while they were filming the movie The Rum Diary in 2009. They got married in 2015, but then they divorced in 2016.
Photographs, audio recordings and video recordings were used to show how two people in a relationship were abusive to each other. The evidence was shown in court on April 14. Some people criticized the use of the term “mutual abuse.”
Entertainment agent Darryl Marshak thinks that film studios might be hesitant to work with the actors who have been in a public controversy.
“Robert Downey Jr. won an Academy Award and then aired his personal business out in the world and people kind of recoiled,” said Marshak, who has previously represented stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Hilary Swank. “I think Hollywood is a strange place. When you air your dirty laundry in front of the machine, the executives, all the people that make the parts move, they sort of recoil from a hot flame.”
Depp is suing Heard because she wrote an op-ed piece in 2018 that said she was a public figure who represented domestic abuse. Depp has starred in two films since then, and neither of them mentioned him by name.
Heard will appear in the sequel to “Aquaman” which is set to come out in 2023. This comes after she filed a countersuit against an attorney who called her abuse allegations a “hoax.”
Marshak said he believes Depp’s talent will help him return to movie screens.
“Hollywood is also forgiving and as it moves forward and this thing stops airing and Johnny is able to move fluidly back into the business. I think he’ll reemerge again,” he said. “Hollywood is a fickle place.”
The live-streamed trial of Depp and Heard by the legal teams may also shape industry perspective on the two stars.
“Globally, people have seemingly become polarized by the trial, we have watched this unfold in the press prior to its culmination in the courtroom, ” Amanda K. Ruisi, founder and president of AKR Public Relations & AKR Ventures, told CNN.
Ruisi believes that Depp’s representatives have been more effective.
“Mr. Depp’s legal and strategic communications team have done an incredible job in delivering a consistent message in the courtroom and throughout the media, which I believe has helped corral the support from his fan base.”
Not that Depp’s supporters needed it, but they got a boost from social media. People who support him wrote things on social media that made it look like he was the one who was treated unfairly. This has caused people to ask why so many people seem to hate the woman who told her story.
Sociologist Nicole Bedera offered a few theories — both on Twitter and in an article for Harper’s Bazaar — about why both female survivors of domestic abuse and many women period have seemed to support Depp.
“It can be scary — and for victims, re-traumatizing — for women to empathize with an abuse survivor. If violence really *is* everywhere and if it *feels* like it can happen to anyone, then a lot of women will start to worry that they will be next,” she wrote. “So is it surprising that a lot of women are coming to Depp’s defense? No. Not at all.”
Heard has had some supporters, but notably fewer than Depp. This is especially true in the entertainment business and in the courthouse.
David Krumholtz, Heard’s former co-star, defended her publicly. Actress Ellen Barkin testified for her defense team, and comedian Kathy Griffin sent love in a tweet.
After the court adjourns, will producers send them scripts as reliably as people have been tweeting about it?
Are Franchise Futures in Peril?
The main part of both Heard and Depp’s lawsuits is that their careers have been affected. They say that their futures in film franchises are uncertain.
Depp’s team has been trying to prove that he was dropped from a potential Pirates of the Caribbean movie because of Heard’s op-ed.
Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the Pirates of the Caribbean films, said that it is still undecided whether or not Depp will be involved in a possible next installment.
The producer said that the creative team is working on two scripts for a potential new Pirates movie. One would have Margot Robbie as the lead, and one without her.
The last movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean series was released in 2017.
In a taped deposition played for the court, Depp’s former agent testified that he believed accusations of domestic violence made by Heard against Depp cost the actor a paycheck that would have been worth tens of millions of dollars.
When the attorney asked Carino about other issues Depp may have had while working on previous “Pirates” films, he dismissed them.
“I’m aware of him being tardy but he’s been tardy on everything his entire life,” Carino said. “I think it’s troublesome to everybody, but everyone has learned how to produce a film to deal with it.”
Some other people saw his behavior as more harmful than it really was.
Tracey Jacobs, Depp’s former talent agent, testified in a recorded deposition that she was honest with Depp about the fact that his lateness and bad behavior was harming his career.
“His star had dimmed due to it getting harder to get him jobs given the reputation that he’d acquired due to his lateness and other things,” Jacobs testified. “People were talking and the question was out there about his behavior.”
A Hollywood director, who has not worked with Depp but has met him, told CNN that he does not think Depp will ever direct another major franchise.
“I believe that Johnny Depp will be able to be cast in various independent films because he still has significant name value and there’s an audience for him, however the studios will be more cautious because of insurance reasons and because of the potential to stop protection and they would be more concerned about public backlash as opposed to smaller independent companies,” he said.
Heard’s image has been hurt by the attention around her trial, according to the director.
There is a petition to have Heard dropped from the upcoming Aquaman sequel. The movie has already been filmed and is in post-production.
That probably won’t happen. But Walter Hamada, the head of DC Films, testified that the creative team had concerns about Heard resuming her role in the franchise over a lack of chemistry with co-star Jason Momoa.
He also said that the studio never planned to portray Heard as a co-lead in the second film and that her role was not reduced in the forthcoming film, titled Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
No matter what the jury decides, Juda Engelmayer, founder of Herald PR, who has represented celebrities like disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, told CNN that Depp’s time in court — which included quirky, meme-able moments involving doodling and jelly beans — has made him more popular.
“His testimony, whether true or an act, has caused a resurgence of fans who missed him,” he said. “For his reputation and career, studios see he still has a fan base,” he said.
It is harder to say what will happen for Heard, whose career was less established than Depp’s when their relationship and troubling accusations began.
Back in 2009, Heard said she was ready for the ups and downs of an acting career. This was before the drama with Depp came to light.
“Do you think you would have pursued it if you knew it was gonna be this much of a circus?” Heard was asked in a 2013 interview.
“Absolutely,” Heard responded. “I love very much the struggle that you’re constantly…you’re constantly put in a state of fight or flight. It’s a constant struggle. So I don’t know if I could have it any other way.”
Covering superheroes, anything dark, horror, and more! Lead writer for Fan Fest