FAIRFAX, Va. –
The jury’s finding that both Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard had been defamed during their long-running public lawsuit culminated in a disgusting six-week trial that also raised questions about whether the two actors could overcome a tarnished reputation.
A verdict on Wednesday in Virginia found that Depp had been slandered by three statements in an op-ed written by his ex-wife, in which Heard said she had been abused. The jury awarded him more than $ 10 million. The jurors also concluded that Heard had also been slandered by Depp’s lawyer, who accused her of creating a detailed fraud over the allegations of abuse. She was valued at $ 2 million.
Depp hoped the defamation lawsuit would help restore his reputation. However, legal and entertainment experts said that the reputation of both actors was damaged by ugly details about their short marriage, which came out during a television trial watched by millions of people.
“Both will work again, but I think it will take a while for a large studio to consider them ‘safe’ enough to bet on them,” said Matthew Belloni, a former entertainment lawyer who writes about Hollywood business for reporter Puck. . “The personal luggage that was uncovered in this process was too tricky for the studio to deal with.”
The case captivated viewers who watched television news, including passionate followers on social media who discussed the actors’ ways, their choice of wardrobe, and their alcohol and drug use.
Both performers come up with unclear prospects. Depp, three times nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor, has been a successful star until recent years and played Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. However, he lost this role and was replaced in the “Fantastic Animals” spinoff.
Heard’s acting career was more modest and her only two upcoming roles are in the small film and the upcoming sequel “Aquaman”, which is due out next year.
Eric Rose, a crisis management and communications expert in Los Angeles, called the court a “classic murder-suicide” in terms of harm to both careers.
“From a reputation management perspective, there can be no winners,” he said. “They’ve bled each other. It’s harder for studios to hire any actor now, because you potentially alienate a large portion of your audience, who may not like the fact that you kept Johnny or Amber for a particular project.” because the feelings are so strong now. “
Heard, who attended the trial on Wednesday and was stoic in reading the verdict, said that what she described as an obstacle for women in general broke her heart.
“I am all the more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It postpones the time when a woman who has spoken and has spoken may have been publicly humiliated. It suppresses the idea that violence against women is necessary. take it seriously, “she said in a statement posted on her Twitter account.
Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, told CBS Mornings that her client planned to file an appeal.
Depp, who was out of court on Wednesday, said, “The jury has brought my life back to me. I’m really humble.”
“I hope that my efforts to tell the truth have helped others, men or women who have found themselves in my situation, and that those who support them will never give up,” he said in a statement published on Instagram.
Depp sued Heard for defamation in the Fairfax County Courthouse for a December 2018 op, which she wrote to The Washington Post, calling herself a “public figure representing domestic violence.” His name was never mentioned in the essay.
The jury found in Depp’s favor all three of his statements regarding specific statements in the work.
In evaluating Heard’s counter-proposals, jurors considered three statements by Depp’s lawyer, who described her allegations as fraud. They found out that one of them was slandering her, in which the lawyer claimed that she and her friends “spilled some wine and roughened the place, put their stories to the fore” and called the police.
While the case was seemingly defamatory, most testimony focused on whether Heard had been physically and sexually abused, as she claimed. Heard listed more than a dozen alleged attacks, including a brawl in Australia – where Depp filmed a sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean – in which Depp lost the lead of a middleman, and Heard said she was sexually assaulted by alcohol. bottle.
Depp said he never hit Heard and that she was the one who tortured her, although Heard’s lawyers emphasized the years old text messages Depp had sent to Heard apologizing for his behavior, as well as the profane texts he sent to a friend in which Depp had said that he wants to kill Heard and defile her dead body.
Brett Ward, a family law attorney in New York, said Depp had made himself a more credible witness by admitting drug and alcohol use and that he could be a difficult person. However, he said Depp also risked making those moments more memorable to the public than his film work.
“He says he did it for his children. As I watched the whole process, I don’t think he would do any service to his children by venting all that dirty laundry,” Ward said in an interview.
“Whether it was worth it for Johnny Depp, we’ll find out in five years if he re-establishes himself as an A-star Hollywood actor. If not? I think he’s made a terrible mistake, because most people are there to remember his rather significant Hollywood career.” They will remember this judgment. “
Associated Press authors Lindsey Bahr and John Carruci contributed to this report
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