One of the central points of contention in the process was the question of what caused Johnny Depp to lose his lucrative film career.
Mr Depp’s lawyers argued in the defamation lawsuit that Ms Heard’s op-ed, calling herself a “public figure representing domestic violence,” had damaged his reputation and his career. The lawyer of Mrs. Heard argued that Mr Depp’s pattern of bad behavior and publicity had already damaged his career before the opinion.
Both sides presented witnesses at the trial to back up their claims.
Mr. Depp’s talent manager, Jack Whigham, testified that his client lost a $22.5 million deal to reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in a sixth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film after the op-ed was published. The agreement was verbal, not formally put into contract, Mr Whigham testified, but in early 2019 it became clear to him that Disney was “going in a different direction”.
“After the opinion, it was impossible to get him a studio film,” Whigham said.
Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, a lawyer for Ms Heard, pointed to an earlier statement by Mr Whigham in which he said it had been autumn 2018 – before the op-ed was published – when he understood it was unlikely that Mr. Depp would appear in the next “Pirates” movie.
Mr. Whigham testified at the trial that Disney hadn’t made a decision at the time about whether Mr. Depp would appear in the film and that it was a “bad trend”, but said he and producer Jerry Bruckheimer were still were looking to convince the company to let Mr. Keep Depp in the franchise. “We had hope,” said Mr Whigham, “and it became clear to me in early 2019 that it was over.”
Ms. Heard’s attorneys called as a witness an agent who said she had represented Mr. Depp for about 30 years, Tracey Jacobs, who testified that Mr. Depp’s career troubles began long before 2018, when the op-ed was published in The Washington Post. . In the last 10 years she’s worked with him, before Mr. Depp fired her in 2016, Ms. Jacobs said, Mr. Depp had exhibited a pattern of “unprofessional behavior,” including showing up late to movie sets.
“I was very honest with him and said, ‘You have to stop this. This is hurting you,'” Ms. Jacobs testified. “And it did.”
The behavior Ms. Jacobs cited included increased drug and alcohol use. At one point in his career, she testified, he regularly wore an earpiece on set so that his lines could be passed on to him.
And a Disney production manager, Tina Newman, testified that she was unaware of any decisions about Mr. Depp’s potential role in a sixth “Pirates” film that was directly related to Ms. Heard’s opinion. She testified, however, that there was evidence that Disney executives corresponded about a 2018 Rolling Stone article citing Mr. Depp’s “million dollar lawsuits, a haze of booze and hashish, a marriage gone all wrong,” and that one supervisor had responded by saying ‘sad’.