In Depth

What next for Amber Heard after libel judgment?

Heard’s career has ‘stalled’ amid Johnny Depp libel cases, said talent agent

Jury deliberations in Amber Heard’s high-profile court battle with Johnny Depp are due to resume today after a pause for the US Memorial Day holiday.

Depp, 58, is suing his ex-wife for $50m (£40m) for an article she wrote in which she claimed to be an abuse victim. Heard, 36, is counter-suing Depp for $100m.

As jurors decide who is in the wrong, attention is now turning to the future of the warring parties and what might come next for Heard.

The ‘court of public opinion’

Hollywood insiders told CNN that, whatever the verdict in the legal battle between Heard and Depp, the fate of their respective careers will be “decided in the court of public opinion”.

Heard is due to appear in the sequel to Aquaman, which is scheduled for release in 2023. Although there is a petition to have Heard dropped from the movie, which has already been filmed and is in post-production, CNN said it is unlikely this will happen.

However, entertainment agent Darryl Marshak thinks film studios might be less than keen to work with Heard or Depp in the near future. 

“I think Hollywood is a strange place,” he told CNN. “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.”

Heard ‘fought really hard’ to stay in film sequel

Heard’s talent agent told the court in Fairfax, Virginia that her acting career has already been damaged by allegations made by Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman, who said she had faked injuries and caused damage to Depp’s LA penthouse.

After the $1bn success of the 2018 film Aquaman, Heard’s career should have had a similar trajectory to that of her co-star Jason Mamoa, argued Jessica Kovacevic, Heard’s agent.

According to the Evening Standard, “the agent said actors usually enjoy a rise in fame after a hit film like Aquaman” but that Heard’s career had since “stalled” and she had subsequently “missed out on an Amazon project with actor Gael Garcia Bernal”. 

Kovacevic told the court: “No one can say out loud ‘We’re taking this away from her because of this bad press’ because it’s nothing she did.” She added: “It’s all hearsay, and it’s all whatever. But there’s no other reason.”

Heard testified earlier this week that her role in Aquaman 2 had been significantly curtailed amid the court battle with Depp, and said she had been given a new version of the script “that had taken away scenes that had action in it”.

The actor told the court that she had “fought really hard to stay in the movie. They didn’t want to include me in the film.” 

According to IMDb, Heard also has two other films lined up – Run Away with Me (pre-production) and In the Fire (post-production) – but neither has a release date.

‘No one wins’

There has been widespread vilification of Heard online in recent weeks. Writing for The Times, Polly Vernon said that “the internet mood, and by extension, the public mood, is overwhelmingly anti-Heard”.

For Heard, the toll of the closely watched trial has been significant. Asked in court what effect being disbelieved had had on her, Heard replied: “It’s torture. It’s torturous. No one should have to do that. I want to move on with my life,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

She added: “I have a baby. I want to move on… I want Johnny to move on, too. I want him to leave me alone.”

Ultimately, a leading Hollywood publicist told CNN, neither Heard nor Depp will walk away the winner. “Both are highly dysfunctional. Money is toxic and greed destroys. No one wins here,” they said.

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