The legal battle between Johnny Depp (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) and Amber Heard (“Aquaman”) concluded in June 2022. Now, the global audience can delve into the highpoints of this dispute turned Netflix miniseries.
Commencing on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, the streaming giant will premiere the three-part series titled “Depp v. Heard,” helmed by Emmy and BAFTA nominee Emma Cooper (“The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes”).
This trial, extensively covered by the US Law & Crime network, generated unprecedented social media engagement and turned into a major media spectacle.
Netflix’s documentary is touted as the first to juxtapose pivotal statements made by both parties during the trial. It delves into the essence of truth, specifically the reality behind allegations of attacks during their brief 15-month marriage and discerning fabricated accusations. The docuseries also examines whether the trial, in the end, inadvertently served as a publicity campaign for the two stars.
This case deeply divided the public, and “Depp v. Heard” aims to analyze how the intense media frenzy potentially influenced the trial’s outcome. Hashtags like #AmberHeardIsALiar or #JusticeForJohnny appeared to shape the course of the civil trial.
Ultimately, Heard was found guilty of defaming Depp, resulting in a $10 million (€9.2 million) compensation payment for lost earnings. Conversely, Depp was directed to pay her $2 million for defamatory statements made by his former lawyer, Adam Waldman.
While both parties’ legal teams initially appealed the verdict, Heard abandoned her appeal in December 2022.
Can a trial played out under the scrutiny of the global public, one that exposes scenes of a tumultuous relationship — replete with unsettling details such as messages written in blood and feces on bed linens — ever produce a clear victor? Is it possible for anyone to emerge unscathed from such a trial?
Post-trial Support for Heard
In contrast to the previous year, the hashtag #IStandWithAmberHeard has trended in 2023. It unites voices decrying the perceived injustice of the trial, condemning the social media hate campaign against Heard, and advocating for her version of events.
Posts employing this hashtag also highlight the power disparity, noting that Depp holds greater wealth, age, and fame.
Certain journalists have aligned themselves with Heard as well. They assert that the trial has fueled an anti-feminist backlash or placed blame on Heard for the supposed decline of the #MeToo movement.
Heard herself has expressed profound disappointment in the trial’s outcome. Last June, she conveyed her heartbreak on Twitter (then called that) and lamented that the “mountain of evidence” she presented failed to sway the jury. She characterized the verdict as a setback for other women in similar circumstances.
Heard’s Acting Hiatus
As reported by US magazine People, the 37-year-old Heard has not yet pursued new acting opportunities in 2023. However, she made her first post-trial public appearance at Italy’s Taormina Film Festival the previous month.
Presenting her pre-trial film, “In the Fire,” she appeared at ease. Grateful for the warm reception in Italy, as shared on her Instagram account, she expressed gratitude to her fans.
Another film featuring Heard is slated for release in December. She portrays Mera in the superhero movie “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” directed by James Wan and produced by DC Studios. This project was filmed before the trial.
A change.org petition has called for her role to be removed from the movie altogether. To date, over 4.5 million signatures have been collected, yet the request remains unfulfilled. However, it remains uncertain when Heard will resurface in future productions.
Depp’s Shift to Music
A low point in Depp’s career arrived in 2018 when his ex-wife Heard authored a guest article in The Washington Post recounting her experience of surviving domestic violence. Although Depp’s name wasn’t mentioned, the article is believed to have tarnished his reputation and career.
Depp subsequently lost roles as Captain Jack in an intended sixth “Pirates of the Caribbean” installment and Gellert Grindelwald in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise shortly after the article’s publication. In 2019, he initiated a defamation lawsuit against Heard, seeking damages. She responded with a countersuit, citing her right to free speech. The legal proceedings unfolded in Virginia, commencing in April 2022.
In the aftermath of the trial, Depp returned to music, an arena he had initially aspired to pursue. He embarked on tours with the band Hollywood Vampires and guitarist Jeff Beck, resulting in a collaborative album.
This album, featuring two songs composed by Depp, including “Sad Motherf*ckin’ Parade,” has been interpreted as a pointed reference to his ex-wife.
Depp’s subsequent actions have taken aim at Hollywood. At the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, he premiered “Jeanne du Barry,” his first film after the trial. During the event, Depp declared that he no longer requires Hollywood’s validation.
In the French historical drama, the 60-year-old Depp portrays King Louis XV opposite Maiwenn, who also directed the film, in the titular role of the courtesan.