Amber Heard’s Legal Team Summarizes Defense in Johnny Depp’s Libel Case

Amber Heard’s attorneys have summed up their defense against the libel suit filed by her former husband Johnny Depp, after six weeks of testimony based on graphic claims and counter-claims of domestic violence.

Depp’s attorneys responded Tuesday by asking that Heard’s counterclaim against the Pirates of the Caribbean star be dismissed, but the judge hearing the case in Virginia, near the US capital, declined.

Judge Penney Azcarate said enough evidence had been presented to continue the case and that both the trial and the counter-charge would eventually go to the seven-member jury.

Depp, 58, filed a lawsuit against Heard over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018, in which she described herself as a “public figure who represents domestic violence.”

Heard, 36, who starred in Aquaman, did not name Depp in the opinion, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and is seeking $50 million in damages.

Texas-born Heard contradicted himself, asking for $100 million, claiming she had endured “rampant physical violence and abuse” at his hands.

Depp, during his four days on the witness stand, denied ever hitting Heard or any other woman, claiming she was the one who was often violent.

Johnny Depp testifies, with 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 rejected the dismissal request of 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 has been damaged by allegedly defamatory comments made about her by Depp’s former attorney Adam Waldman.

Mr. Waldman’s statements form the basis of the defamation counterclaim 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 Warner Brothers’ custom to renegotiate contracts, although he acknowledged that the studio was doing this for Aquaman star Jason Momoa.

A composition by Johnny Depp and Amber Heard
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp married in February 2015 and finalized their divorce about two years later.AP: Shawn Thew

Hamada said there had been “talks” about recasting Heard’s role in Aquaman 2, but that was due to an alleged lack of “chemistry” between her and co-star Momoa.

“The reality is that in movies it’s not uncommon for two leads to have no chemistry,” he said. “You know it when you see it.”

Lost millions in revenue

On Monday, Kathryn Arnold, a Hollywood pundit called by Heard’s team, said Heard’s career was “on the precipice of a meteoric rise” after Aquaman, but it was thwarted by “a lot of negative publicity.”

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

Depp’s attorneys put experts on the stand earlier in the trial who testified that the actor lost millions over the abuse allegations, including a $22.5 million payday for a sixth episode 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 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 they will go to the jury.

AFP

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