In the late 2000s, before all the fuss with Johnny Depp started, Amber Heard was slowly gaining recognition as an actress. One film that added to her resume building was the 2009 horror remake, The Stepfather, a film that now can be seen on Netflix.
The Stepfather stars Dylan Walsh (Nip/Tuck, Congo) as Grady Edwards, a man who, when we first see him, is completing a transformation. He is shaving off his beard, dyeing his hair, removing his brown contact lenses, giving himself a completely different look. As he leaves the home, we also see the dead bodies of his family. While police investigate, they note another family was murdered in a similar fashion not long ago, leading them to believe there is a serial killer on the loose.
Sela Ward (Sisters, House) is Susan Harding, a single mom with a couple of young sons. While shopping with her youngest, she meets a man named David Harris. This man had recently lost his wife and kids to a car accident. This man is Grady Edwards, now going by David.
David begins to woo Susan and six months later the two are engaged to be married. Returning home, though, is Michael (Penn Badgley), Susan’s eldest boy, who has been away at military school and is immediately leery of David and the situation concerning his mother. Even though David tries to bond with Michael, David slipping up and using the wrong name when mentioning his dead daughter causes Michael to become even more suspicious. This is when more bodies begin to drop as the nosy neighbor, Mrs. Cutter is the first to go.
Amber Heard arrives as Michael’s girlfriend Kelly, who is on hand to try and keep Michael focused on his college applications. But she is drawn into David’s horror as Michael becomes more and more obsessed with David and his apparent lies. Michael’s father Jay confronts David about David putting his hands on Jay’s youngest son, causing David to smash Jay over the head with a vase, then suffocating him with a plastic bag.
David’s grip on who he is begins to show when things hit their zenith and David tells Susan he thought that she could be “Mrs. Grady Edwards.” Susan, her sister Jackie, Michael, and Kelly are all part of David’s end game and not all are going to survive. The big question here is – will David survive to torment and kill another family?
The Stepfather is a remake of the far superior 1987 original of the same name. The original starred Terry O’Quinn (of Lost fame) in the title role and was so well-received it got a sequel two years later. As with the original, the remake was based on the true-life story of mass murderer John List. List lived in New Jersey with his wife, his mother, and his three kids, all of which he killed. His murders were so well planned that it took over a month before any figured out there was something wrong. By that time, List had already moved around the country, finally taking on another disguise and name, before settling in Denver, Colorado, where he was a fugitive for 18 years. He was finally tracked down after he was recognized from an episode of America’s Most Wanted.
The role Amber Heard had in the movie was not a meaty one, though it was key. She appears as the grounding force for Michael, skeptical until the facts hit her, literally, smack dab in the face. Nelson McCormick directed the movie on a script written by J.S. Cardone on a $20 million budget. The movie did not fare well at the box office, bringing in a little over $31 million and it was not a popular film with the critics either. The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt summed up the movie by saying, “This remake turns a fondly remembered horror/thriller into a mild and tedious suspense film.”
The professional life of Amber Heard would continue to grow after her appearance in The Stepfather. She would be seen in movies such as And Soon the Darkness, 3 Days to Kill, The Adderall Diaries, Justice League, Aquaman, and the streaming series The Stand. But it was the 2011 movie, The Rum Diaries, where her professional life and personal life began to unravel.
Amber Heard met Captain Jack Sparrow a.k.a. Johnny Depp on the set of The Rum Diaries and began a relationship that eventually would become front-page news. Not that front-page news was uncommon for Amber Heard at the time. She had just recently come out publicly in 2010 as she was in the middle of a relationship back then with photographer Tasya van Ree. In 2009, Heard was actually arrested for domestic violence against Ree, which ultimately had Ree claiming it was all a misunderstanding and blown out of proportion.
We won’t get into the gory Amber Heard-Johnny Depp details, there is plenty of that out there. What we will say is that their ongoing battle continues and while we all hope it ends soon, it doesn’t appear to be.
Since her Depp fiasco, Heard’s professional life has taken a massive hit, or it had. There were many railing against Heard starring in any movie whatsoever with those against her calling for her firing from the upcoming Aquaman sequel. It appears, for now, their clamoring is falling on deaf ears as Amber Heard is still slated to make another appearance as Mera in the sequel. Most recently, Heard was seen in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but this movie was filmed way back in 2017. Her last feature was the 2019 film Gully. Amber Heard’s last official work came on the CBS All-Access series, Stephen King’s The Stand.
Where Amber Heard goes from here is anyone’s guess. If the public has its way, we won’t be seeing much of her, but the public doesn’t always get what they want.