Warner Bros. executive testifies on Amber Heard’s role in ‘Aquaman 2,’ Heard rests case in defamation suit

Warner Bros. executive testifies on Amber Heard’s role in ‘Aquaman 2,’ Heard rests case in defamation suit

Published May 25, 2022
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A Warner Bros. executive testified Tuesday that Amber Heard’s role in “Aquaman 2,” as well as her ability to renegotiate her contract, were not impacted by any statements made by her ex-husband Johnny Depp or his representatives.

The video deposition of Walter Hamada, president of DC Films Production, was played in court Tuesday. Hamada said Heard’s role in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” slated for a 2023 release, was never reduced from how it was originally written in the script.

“From the early stages of development of the script, the movie was built around the character of Arthur and the character of Orm,” Hamada said. “Arthur being Jason Momoa and Orm being Patrick Wilson, so they were always the two co-leads of the movie.” 

Hamada added there were never plans to make Heard’s character Mera a co-lead in the upcoming fantasy adventure film and that it was “always pitched as a buddy comedy between Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson.” 

However, Hamada said there was a delay in recasting Heard in the “Aquaman” sequel, due to a concern of lack of chemistry between Heard and her co-star Jason Momoa.

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Hamada said that through the “magic” of post-production – editing, music, sound design – a great performance between Heard and Momoa was able to be pieced together but that “the chemistry wasn’t there.” 

“Editorially, they were able to make that relationship work in the first movie, but there was a concern that it took a lot of effort to get there and would we be better off … finding someone who had a bit more natural chemistry with Jason Momoa and move forward from that point,” Hamada said.

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No other actresses were auditioned for the part of Mera, Hamada said. He also said Heard’s dispute with Depp did not play a role in the recasting delay. “It was all concerns about whether she was the right fit of casting for the movie,” he said.

Regarding Heard’s salary for the film, Hamada said there were no plans to increase the actress’s pay, as it’s “a big part of (Warner Bros.’) philosophy” to hold actors to their original contracts.

Heard rested her case in the civil suit between her and Depp on Tuesday without calling Depp to the stand. Heard’s lawyers had initially suggested they would call Depp as a witness but ultimately opted against it.

Depp is suing Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His lawyers say he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.

Also Tuesday, Judge Penney Azcarate rejected a motion from Depp’s attorneys to toss out a $100 million counterclaim she filed against Depp. The counterclaim alleges Depp’s then-lawyer, Adam Waldman, defamed Heard when he called her abuse allegations a hoax.

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Azcarate said the bar for tossing out a claim before it goes to the jury is exceedingly high and said there is enough evidence to allow it to go forward. She had already ruled Depp could be held responsible for statements made by his lawyer, a principle Depp’s team disputes.

Depp has denied he ever struck Heard and says she was the abuser in the relationship. Heard has testified about more than a dozen separate instances of physical abuse she says she suffered at Depp’s hands.

Both Depp and Heard have each testified extensively already about details of their toxic relationship.

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Contributing: Edward Segarra, USA TODAY; Matthew Barakat, The Associated Press