Depp’s agent calls Heard op-ed piece on abuse ‘catastrophic’

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Johnny Depp’s agent testified Monday that his ex-wife’s 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post describing herself as a sufferer of home abuse was “catastrophic” to his profession and coincided with the lack of a $23 million deal for a “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel.

Amber Heard’s attorneys pushed again aggressively in opposition to the agent’s assertion on cross-examination, suggesting that the article was inconsequential amid a stream of unhealthy publicity for Depp introduced on by his personal unhealthy conduct.

Depp is suing Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court, saying her article defamed him when she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The article by no means mentions Depp by identify, however Depp’s attorneys say he was defamed however as a result of it’s a transparent reference to abuse allegations Heard levied in 2016.

In testimony Monday, agent Jack Whigham mentioned Depp was nonetheless capable of work after the preliminary allegations made in opposition to him in 2016. He was paid $8 million for “City Of Lies,” $10 million for “Murder on the Orient Express” and $13.5 million for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” all of which shot in 2017, albeit beneath contracts reached previous to the allegations made in opposition to him.

But he mentioned The Washington Post piece was uniquely damaging to Depp’s profession.

“It was a first-person account, extremely impactful,” Whigham mentioned of the op-ed.

After that, he mentioned Depp struggled to get any type of work. He needed to take a pay reduce — all the way down to $3 million — to do the unbiased movie “Minimata,” and a $22.5 million verbal deal he had with Disney for a sixth “Pirates” movie was scuttled, Whigham mentioned.

On cross-examination, although, Heard’s attorneys requested whether or not the “Pirates” deal had already gone south by the point Heard’s article was revealed. Whigham acknowledged he by no means had a written deal for Depp to look in a sixth “Pirates” movie.” And whereas he mentioned “Pirates” producer Jerry Bruckheimer talked favorably all through 2018 about Depp coming again to the franchise, Disney executives had been noncommittal at finest.

By early 2019 — weeks after Heard’s op-ed — Whigham mentioned it was clear that Depp’s position in any “Pirates” movie was scuttled and that producers had been as an alternative trying to transfer forward with Margot Robbie in a lead position.

Heard’s attorneys have cited a wide range of elements — together with studies of heavy drug and alcohol use, a lawsuit by a crew member in July 2018 who says he was punched on set by Depp, and a separate libel lawsuit Depp filed in opposition to a British newspaper in 2018 — as issues that broken Depp’s picture greater than the Post article.

For Depp’s Virginia lawsuit to achieve success, he not solely wants to point out that he was falsely accused, however he additionally wants to point out that the op-ed piece — not Heard’s abuse allegations in 2016 when she filed for divorce and obtained a brief restraining order — is what triggered the harm.

Depp’s attorneys additionally offered testimony from an mental property knowledgeable who testified in regards to the destructive flip in Depp’s popularity. But his personal knowledge, displaying development traces from Google searches, confirmed destructive spikes occurring after the 2016 abuse allegations, however negligible or nonexistent adjustments after the Post article.

The trial has now entered its fourth week. Much of the testimony in the course of the first three weeks centered on the risky relationship between Depp and Heard. Depp says he has by no means struck Heard. Her attorneys mentioned in the course of the trial’s opening statements that she was bodily and sexually abused by Depp on a number of events.

Heard is anticipated to testify later this week.

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