Amber Heard’s attorneys dropped her case Tuesday, opening the door for Johnny Depp’s legal team to call a refuting witness, casting doubt on Heard’s sympathy and star power.
Before entertainment attorney and Hollywood “dealmaker” Richard Marks took the stand, Depp’s attorneys lobbied to dismiss Heard’s $100 million counterclaim for defamation. Judge Penney Azcarate denied the motion, ruling that the jury should rule before the trial proceeded.
Marks, who testified earlier in the defamation trial, said Depp’s attorneys asked him to analyze Monday’s testimony by “entertainment industry consultant” and producer Kathryn Arnold.
Arnold testified that prior to Heard’s legal battles with Depp and his attorneys, the actress had very high earning potential and her career path was “comparable” to those of Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Zendaya, Ana de Armas and Chris Pine.
Marks, who said he had nearly 50 years of experience and negotiated numerous deals, found the comparisons ridiculous.
“She’s very dexterous and supple, but she’s not a deal-making expert,” he said of Arnold. “Your damage estimate is based on nothing and is wildly speculative.”
He added that Heard has never had top billing in a film or TV show.
“They are not comparable. Jason Momoa was ‘Aquaman’, Chris Pine was ‘Captain Kirk’, Gal Gadot was ‘Wonder Woman’, Zendaya has worked for Disney Channel since she was 13 years old. She acts under one name in all the Spider-Man films. Ana de Armas, you know, when she was in a movie, they called her a breakthrough [star]’ said Mark.
The attorney told the Fairfax, Virginia courtroom that Heard had to test or audition for the role of “Mera” on “Aquaman,” which affected her earning capacity.
“An established actor wouldn’t normally test himself, he’d be offered the part. Ms. Heard was one of a group of actors who had to be screened to see if the studio wanted to hire them, and when they did hire them, they got locked up on maybe four films at a very lucrative ramp-up,” explained Marks.
He said studios don’t have to comment on actor contract options and was surprised by the “openness” of DC Films president Walter Hamada, who testified Tuesday morning that Heard had “chemical issues” with Jason Momoa on Aquaman.
“In Hollywood, silence is the standard. You don’t play a card until it’s time,” Marks said.
As for Hamada, he revealed that the Aquaman 2 director-producer is considering recasting the “Mera” character.
Hamada said in a pre-recorded video that there were creative concerns about bringing Heard back after initial film production.
“I think editorially they were able to make that relationship work in the first film, but there were concerns that it took a lot of effort to get there and we’d be better off recasting and finding someone who had a more natural chemistry.” with Jason has Momoa and keep it up,” Hamada said.
He added that Heard was never released from her Aquaman contract and ultimately no other actors were auditioned for the role of Mera.
Hamada said Jason Momoa renegotiated his contract but that’s not an option for Heard.
“One of the things we were trying to control was not renegotiating every deal with the understanding that people will come and make these deals and they understand that there will be options and there is a deal,” he said Hamada off . “That was a big part of our philosophy, that we would hold people to their options for the future.”
He added that Heard was never fired or reinstated for Aquaman 2, stating, “We just exercised her option” and that she didn’t get a raise.
Heard previously testified that she was fighting for a role in the sequel, but that the role of “Mera” was “slimmed down” when she received the script.
However, Hamada noted, “The character’s involvement in the story was pretty much what it was from the start,” adding that Aquaman 2 was “always marketed as a buddy comedy between Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson became”.
Hamada said Heard’s compensation for Aquaman 2 was not influenced by testimonies from Depp or his former attorney Adam Waldman, nor was Heard’s legal battle with Depp a factor in her involvement in Aquaman 2.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million, alleging she slandered him in a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post that cost him a lucrative role in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Though Heard didn’t name him in the article, the “Aquaman” actress described herself as a “public figure who represents domestic violence.” Heard has countersued for $100 million.
Closing arguments in the trial are expected this week.