This week marks the final week of the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial and regardless of who wins the war, Depp just lost a battle against Heard. This morning, Depp’s legal team tried and failed to get Heard’s $100 million defamation countersuit thrown out. The judge ruled Heard’s lawsuit can move forward.
Deadline reports that Depp’s attorney Benjamin Chew argued the motion to strike Heard’s defamation countersuit on Tuesday morning, based on the fact that the suit was directed at Johnny Depp rather than the man who made the relevant statements: Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman. Heard filed the suit in August 2020 after Waldman claimed her accusations of abuse were fabricated in a Daily Mail interview. Chew argued that Waldman, not Depp, should be the target of Heard’s suit. Judge Azcarate, however, did not agree. She said there was enough evidence that Waldman was acting as an agent of Depp when he made the statements, including a meeting between the two not long before the Daily Mail interview. “[T]here is more than a scintilla of evidence,” the judge said, “that a reasonable juror may infer that Mr. Waldman made the counterclaim statements while realizing they were false or with a reckless disregard for their truth.”
Deadline notes that it’s likely Depp’s legal team was ready to lose the motion. While on one hand Johnny Depp and his lawyers would no doubt be thrilled to have Amber Heard’s countersuit tossed into the shredder, the motion may have essentially been perfunctory. Likewise, early in May Heard’s team tried to get Depp’s suit tossed out without success, and did so in most likelihood knowing there would little chance it would work.
One might argue that no matter who wins the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation case, it will be Heard who loses. A lot of damning things about both of the actors have come out in the proceedings, but Depp was already receiving the full glare of Hollywood’s stink eye. The star was ousted from the Fantastic Beasts films and his future with Pirates of the Caribbean franchise seems bleak. His latest film, Minamata, was allegedly held hostage by MGM for a year before the studio finally gave it a North American theatrical release. In the meantime Amber Heard has seemed to enjoy a much busier film schedule, including a cameo in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a starring role in the most recent adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, and reprising her role as Mera for next year’s Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom. In other words, when it comes to her reputation, Heard has a lot more to lose. It’s tempting to speculate that — rather than the $50 million Depp is suing for — dragging Heard’s name through as much mud as Depp’s was the main point of the suit.
In fact, it turns out Amber Heard has weathered more of a professional pounding than outsiders may have realized. One thing that has come out during the trial is that Warner Bros. didn’t want Heard in Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom, largely because they didn’t feel there were any real sparks on screen between her and Jason Momoa. Regardless it was Momoa and director James Wan who went to bat for her, and helped secure her part in the sequel.