Amber Heard’s legal team wraps up defense in Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit

Amber Heard’s attorneys have concluded their defense against a defamation lawsuit brought by ex-husband Johnny Depp after six weeks of testimony on domestic violence graphic claims and counterclaims.

Depp’s lawyers responded on Tuesday to dismiss Hurd’s counterclaim against the Pirates of the Caribbean star, but the judge hearing the case in Virginia, near the U.S. capital, declined to do so.

Justice Penney Azcarate said sufficient evidence had been presented for the case to proceed and that both the lawsuit and counterclaim would eventually be brought before a seven-member jury.

Depp, 58, sued Hurd over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018, describing herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”

Heard, 36, who starred in “Aquaman,” didn’t mention Depp in the column, but he sued her for $50 million for suggesting he was a domestic abuser.

Hurd, who was born in Texas, countersued for $100 million and claimed she suffered “rampant physical violence and abuse” at his hands.

During the four days Depp was on the witness stand, he denied attacking Heard or any other woman and claimed she was a regular violent person.

Johnny Depp shows his middle finger to show where he was injured.
In 2015, Johnny Depp showed his middle finger to testify when he was injured while in Australia with his ex-wife Amber Heard.(Reuters: Evelyn Hoxstein)

Feeling a lack of “chemistry”

They called their first rebuttal witnesses after the judge dismissed Depp’s lawyers’ motion to dismiss.

Walter Hamada, president of Warner Bros. DC Comics film production, testified about Hurd’s contract with the studio for the Aquaman series.

Heard’s legal team claims Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman’s defamatory remarks against her damage her character and damages for Aquaman 2.

Mr. Waldman’s statements formed the basis of a defamation counterclaim filed by Hurd, who earned $1 million for Aquaman and $2 million for Aquaman 2.

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

He said Warner Bros. had no practice of renegotiating the contract, although he acknowledged that the studio did for Neptune’s Jason Momoa.

The Combination of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp married in February 2015 and completed their divorce about two years later.(Associated Press: Sean Hew)

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

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

Millions in lost revenue

On Monday, Hurd’s team called Hollywood pundit Kathryn Arnold to say that Hurd’s career was “on the verge of a meteoric rise” after Aquaman, but was hampered by “a lot of negative publicity.”

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

Depp’s lawyers, who brought in experts earlier in the trial, testified that the actor lost millions of dollars to abuse allegations, including a $22.5 million payday for the sixth installment of “Pirates.”

Depp has filed a defamation suit in the US after losing another defamation case in London in November 2020, suing The Sun for calling him a “wife beater”.

Three-time Oscar nominees Depp and Heard married in February 2015. Two years later, their divorce was finalized.

Judge Azcarat has scheduled arguments in the case to end on Friday before it will be brought before a jury.

AFP