Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

Lawyers for Amber Heard have summed up their defense against the defamation suit filed by her former husband Johnny Depp, after six weeks of testimony riding on graphic claims and counterclaims of domestic violence.

Depp’s lawyers responded on Tuesday by asking that Heard’s countersuit against the Pirates of the Caribbean star be dismissed, but the judge hearing the case in Virginia, near the US capital, declined to do so.

Judge Penney Azcarate said enough evidence had been presented for the case to continue and for both suit and countersuit to eventually go to the seven-person jury.

The 58-year-old Depp filed suit against Heard over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018 in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse”.

Heard, 36, who had a starring role in Aquaman, did not name Depp in the op-ed, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and is seeking $ 50 million in damages.

The Texas-born Heard countersued, asking for $ 100 million and claiming that she suffered “rampant physical violence and abuse” at his hands.

Depp, during his four days on the witness stand, denied ever striking Heard or any other woman and claimed that she was the one who was frequently violent.

Johnny Depp displays the middle finger of his hand to show where he was injured.
Johnny Depp testifies, displaying the middle finger of his hand, injured while he and his ex-wife Amber Heard were in Australia in 2015.(Reuters: Evelyn Hockstein)

Perceived lack of ‘chemistry’

After the judge denied the dismissal motion by Depp’s lawyers, they called their first rebuttal witness.

Walter Hamada, president of DC Comics-based film production at Warner Brothers, testified about Heard’s contract with the studio for the Aquaman series.

Heard’s legal team has claimed her role and compensation for Aquaman 2 was harmed by allegedly defamatory remarks made about her by Depp’s former lawyer, Adam Waldman.

Mr Waldman’s statements form the basis of the counter-claim for defamation filed by Heard, who earned $ 1 million for Aquaman and $ 2 million for Aquaman 2.

Mr Hamada said Heard’s compensation for Aquaman 2 was not affected by anything said by Mr Waldman or Depp.

He said it was not the practice of Warner Brothers to renegotiate contracts, although he acknowledged that the studio did so for Aquaman star Jason Momoa.

A composite of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp were married in February 2015 and finalized their divorce about two years later.(AP: Shawn Thew)

Mr Hamada said there had been “conversations” about recasting Heard’s role in Aquaman 2 but that was because of a perceived lack of “chemistry” between her and co-star Momoa.

“The reality is it’s not uncommon on movies for two leads to not have chemistry,” he said. “You know it when you see it.”

Millions in earnings lost

On Monday, a Hollywood expert called by Heard’s team, Kathryn Arnold, said Heard’s career was “on the precipice of a meteoric rise” following Aquaman but it has been stymied by a “lot of negative publicity.”

Ms Arnold estimated that Heard has suffered between $ 45 million and $ 50 million in lost film and TV roles and endorsements.

Depp’s lawyers put experts on the stand earlier in the trial who testified that the actor lost millions because of the abuse accusations, including a $ 22.5 million payday for a sixth installment of Pirates.

Depp filed the defamation complaint in the United States after losing a separate libel case in London in November 2020 that he brought against The Sun for calling him a “wife-beater”.

Depp, a three-time Oscar nominee, and Heard were married in February 2015. Their divorce was finalized two years later.

Ms Azcarate, the judge, has scheduled closing arguments in the case for Friday, after which it will go to the jury.

AFP

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