This week, the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial skulked its way over the seafloor of the internet subconscious, sometimes spitting up some industry tidbit or weird moment that inevitably floats to the surface to be fitfully examined and read.

Kathryn Arnold spoke about how Heard and Depp’s divorce, and the subsequent, non-cultish backlash against Heard, affected her career.

Which, according to Arnold, was “important,”, particularly in relation to Heard’s prominent position in Warner Bros.’  Aquaman sub-franchise. 

The Arnold testimony was interesting in that it appeared to confirm some of the things that people had already inferred  over the last few years. Such as the fact that Heard was purposefully left off of promotional materials  for the film’s sequel,  was banned from DC’s FanDome event,  and was almost straight-up  fired  from the  film, despite being  a part  of a  previously billion-plus  superhero blockbuster.
Warner Bros. informed Heard that she was no longer welcome at FanDome, the company’s now-annual celebration  of its brands and numerous cinematic assets.

Furthermore, the company reportedly attempted to have her removed from Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom entirely, only to be prevented by a unified front from co-star Jason Momoa and director James Wan. According to Arnold, Wan and Momoa were both “committed to her” and “adamant she was in the film.” Nonetheless, Heard has claimed that her role in the film was reduced, ostensibly due to a lack of chemistry with Momoa.

Arnold noted that the public feud between Depp and Heard has also harmed Depp’s career, though she also noted that the  op-ed  ostensibly at the heart of the entire matter was a non-impactful blip on Hollywood’s radar until  Depp filed  his lawsuit over it, turning it into the weeping PR ulcer it is today.

No Chemistry Between Heard and Momoa

As reported by DC Films, the company may be replacing Amber Heard in “Aquaman 2” because she lacked the chemistry with Jason Momoa.

Heard was eventually cast in the sequel, but her attorneys claim she almost lost the job and was unable to bargain for additional money because of the uproar over her domestic violence claims against Johnny Depp. In a defamation case against Depp, Heard is demanding $100 million.

The first witness summoned by Depp’s side was Walter Hamada, the head of Warner Bros.’ DC branch, as they began their rebuttal of Heard’s lawsuit in court in Fairfax, Va. Hamada testified through video deposition that the abuse claims had no bearing on casting selections for “Aquaman 2.”

However, he stated that the studio delayed picking up its option for many weeks while deciding whether to recast Mera, Aquaman’s love interest in the first film.

“They didn’t have a lot of chemistry together,” Hamada said. “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.”

Hamada said that the chemistry was created in post-production, using “movie magic,” including the film’s score. He said it is not uncommon for two leads to lack chemistry.

“You know it when you see it, and the chemistry wasn’t there,” he said.

Amber Heard not allowed to renegotiate for more money?

Heard received a one-time payment of $1 million for the first “Aquaman,” and a two-time payment of $2 million for the sequel. That remuneration was consistent with her initial contract. Although Heard’s representative stated that owing to the global popularity of the first picture, she should have been allowed to renegotiate for more money. However, Hamada testified that, while at DC Films, he made a point of not automatically renegotiating for sequels.

“A big part of our philosophy was we were going to hold people to their options,” he said.

“Aquaman 2,” which will be released next year, was planned as a “buddy comedy” between Momoa and Patrick Wilson, who portrays Aquaman’s half-brother, King Orm. Heard claimed that her role was “pared down” significantly over time, although Hamada testified that it has stayed constant since the film’s inception in 2018.

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