After six weeks of tabloid headlines, the seven-person jury in the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation case reached a verdict on Wednesday. They ruled in favor of Depp, stating they believed that Heard should be held liable for her statements about his alleged abuse. The jury took almost 13 hours to come to the decision and awarded Depp $15 million total ($10 million compensatory, $5 million punitive). Heard received $2 million in her countersuit.
Originally, the case began as Depp, best known for roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, suing his ex-wife, Heard (best-known currently for her role in the DC Cinematic universe as Aquaman’s Mera, the co-ruler of Atlantis) for $50 million over an op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post. In the post, Heard claimed to be “a public figure representing domestic abuse,” which Depp believed defamed him as an abuser. Heard then counter-sued for $100 million, claiming Depp’s denial of her abuse charges defamed her back.
Over the course of six weeks, the actors, their lawyers, and a roster of Hollywood talent have been battling back and forth about the charges and allegations. And, we’re covering it here now because the case brought to light allegations and rumors that Depp believes he lost franchise roles in Fantastic Beasts and impacted the future of the Pirates of the Caribbean films due to the situation, while Heard claims it impacted her role in the upcoming sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Fans of Depp have engaged in long-running campaigns to target Heard’s role in the upcoming sequel—leading to Aquaman co-star Jason Momoa to defend keeping Heard’s presence in the sequel, according to statements given under testimony during the trial.
There’s also a huge throughline of toxic fandom with the case. Fans of both Depp and Heard have been hugely vocal online in support of the actors, turning the trial proceedings into a playground for a bizarre subgenre of culture reaction videos, memes, and swaths of abuse from fans, particularly directed towards Heard. It comes at a time when these kinds of vociferous fandom reactions are once again having a distressing reactionary moment, with the Depp/Heard trial concluding just as racist fans attacking Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram have been met with defiant reaction from her co-workers and Lucasfilm in defense.
One has to wonder though, now that the court has ruled in favor of Depp, will the chaos end? Will both sides be okay with the court’s decision or will things be escalated again? Can, or should, either actor get back to their previous fame or is it now more infamy? Either way, it’s rare that the public gets to see such a sad, terrible situation play out in the public eye and now it’s come to a conclusion.
Update, June 1 at 4 p.m.: Heard posted the following statement on Twitter. Depp then followed; his statement is below.
As reported by Variety, here is Depp’s statement:
“Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed.
All in the blink of an eye.
False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.
And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.
My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought.
From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.
I am, and have been, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the colossal support and kindness from around the world. I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those supporting them never give up. I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media.
I wish to acknowledge the noble work of the Judge, the jurors, the court staff and the Sheriffs who have sacrificed their own time to get to this point, and to my diligent and unwavering legal team who did an extraordinary job in helping me to share the truth.
The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun.
Veritas numquam perit.
Truth never perishes.”
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