FALLS CHURCH (VA) -- Johnny Depp’s agent testified Monday that Johnny Depp's 2018 op ed in The Washington Post describing himself as a victim of domestic violence was "catastrophic" for his career. It also coincided with the loss of a $23M deal for a sequel to "Pirates of the Caribbean".
Amber Heard's lawyers vigorously resisted the assertion of the agent on cross-examination. This suggested that the article was irrelevant amid the stream of negative publicity for Depp caused by his bad behavior.
Depp is suing Heard in Fairfax County Circuit Court for libel. He claims that her article defamed Depp when she called herself "a public figure representing domestic violence." However, Depp's lawyers claim that he was defamed nonetheless because the article clearly refers to abuse allegations Heard made in 2016.
Agent Jack Whigham testified Monday that Depp could still work despite the initial allegations against him in 2016. He was paid $8M for "City Of Lies", $10M for "Murder on the Orient Express", and $13.5M for "Fantastic Beasts : The Crimes of Grindelwald", all of which were shot in 2017, but under contracts that existed before the allegations.
He said that The Washington Post article was particularly damaging for Depp's career.
Whigham described the op-ed as "a first-person account, extremely influential."
He said that Depp was unable to find any work after that. Whigham stated that Depp had to accept a pay cut of $3 million to make the independent film "Minimata." He also lost a $22.5-million verbal agreement he had with Disney to produce a sixth film in the "Pirates."
Heard's lawyers questioned Heard about whether the "Pirates” deal had been canceled by Heard before the article was published. Whigham admitted that he had never signed a written agreement for Depp to appear as a guest star in the sixth "Pirates” film. However, he stated that Jerry Bruckheimer, "Pirates", producer, spoke favorably about Depp returning to the franchise throughout 2018, but Disney executives were not willing to make any commitments.
Whigham stated that Depp's role as a "Pirates” film director was overshadowed by Heard's op ed. Heard had written it weeks earlier. Whigham also said that Depp was not going to be involved in the production and that Margot Robbie would take the lead.
Heard's lawyers cited a number of factors, including reports of heavy drug use, a lawsuit filed by a crew member on July 2018 alleging he was punched by Depp and a separate lawsuit Depp filed against an English newspaper in 2018. These were all things that Depp's reputation suffered more than the Post article.
Depp must prove that he is falsely accused and that the op-ed piece, not Heard's abuse allegations in 2016, when she filed for divorce, was what caused the damage.
Depp's lawyers presented testimony from an expert in intellectual property who spoke out about Depp's bad reputation. His own data from Google search showed that there were negative spikes after the 2016 abuse allegations but no or negligible changes after the Post article.
Now, the trial is in its fourth week. The volatile relationship between Depp, Heard was the focus of much of the testimony in the first three weeks. Depp claims he has never touched Heard. During the opening statements of her trial, her lawyers stated that Depp had repeatedly abused their client on numerous occasions.
Heard is expected testify in the next week.