No chemistry with Jason Momoa to near-recasting: What we’ve been told about Amber Heard in Aquaman 2

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Amber Heard’s role in Aquaman 2 has come under scrutiny during the ongoing multi-million dollar defamation suit brought against her by Johnny Depp.

The actor, who played Princess Mera in the 2018 DC movie, is being sued by Depp for $50m (£39.7m) for implying he abused her in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. Although she didn’t name him, he claims her allegations impacted his ability to work.

Meanwhile, Heard is countersuing Depp for $100m (£79.4m) for allegedly orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her, describing his lawsuit as a “continuation of abuse and harrassment”.

Heard’s defamation counterclaim was initially filed over Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman’s comments in 2020, when he called Heard’s accusations of domestic violence against Depp “fake”, a “sexual violence hoax” and an “ambush”.

Now, testimonies from Heard, her talent agent at William Morris Entertainment (WME), and an entertainment industry expert have highlighted how the Never Back Down actor’s role in the Aquaman sequel was allegedly impacted by the Depp-Waldmen statements.

From Warner Bros potentially recasting her role to co-star Jason Momoa fighting for her to keep it, here’s what we’ve been told about Heard in Aquaman 2 so far:

Heard’s role in franchise film is a very “pared-down version”

During her testimony last week, Heard claimed Warner Bros “didn’t want to include me” in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, adding that her role in the sequel was cut down after Depp’s team called her initial abuse claims a “hoax”.

“I fought really hard to stay in the movie. They didn’t want to include me in the film,” Heard – who reportedly has “less than 10 minutes of screen time” in it – told the jury on 16 May.

She added: “I was given a script and then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it. That depicted my character and another character, without giving any spoilers away, two characters fighting with one another. They basically took a bunch out of my role. They just removed a bunch.”

Heard reportedly has no ‘interactions with Momoa’s character’

Hollywood expert Kathryn Arnold on Monday (23 May) risked the wrath of superfans when she revealed potential Aquaman 2 spoilers while arguing that Heard’s role had been “radically reduced from what it was in the script” in light of Depp and Waldman’s statements.

During her testimony, Arnold said that Heard’s character Mera “ends up in the hospital early in this new Aquaman 2 movie and doesn’t really come out until the end to kind of wrap things up”. She also testified that “all the interactions with Momoa’s character, and certainly the action scenes, were taken out”.

Momoa was ‘adamant’ Heard return for Aquaman 2

At one point during her testimony, Arnold told the jury about the petition to remove Heard from the Aquaman 2 over these “hoax” allegations against Depp.

Amid objections from Depp’s legal team, Arnold on Monday testified that Momoa and Aquaman director James Wan were “adamant” that Heard reprise the role of Mera in the film’s sequel.

The actor, who played Princess Mera in the 2018 DC movie, is being sued by Depp for $50m for implying he abused her in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed (Copyright The Associated Press All rights Reserved 2022)
The actor, who played Princess Mera in the 2018 DC movie, is being sued by Depp for $50m for implying he abused her in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed (Copyright The Associated Press All rights Reserved 2022)

Heard’s contract for Aquaman sequel was worth $2m

During her own testimony, Heard said that she was paid $1m (£800,000) for the first Aquaman film, in addition to a box office bonus, which was released in 2018. She added that her contract said she would make $2m (£1.6m) for the second film.

Arnold on Monday told the court the “negative social media campaign” around Heard had cost her $45m to $50m in endorsements and TV and film income over claims that she faked the allegations against Depp.

Heard’s role was almost recast for sequel over a ‘lack of chemistry’ with Momoa

In a pre-recorded deposition, which was played in court last Thursday (19 May), Heard’s agent Jessica Kovavevic testified that her client’s role in the DC film was almost “recast” over the “bad press” around Heard.

The WME agent’s deposition was played in court last Thursday (19 May), during which she addressed “online rumors” that Warner Bros wanted to replace Heard as Princess Mera.

Kovacevic said that it was her opinion that the studio didn’t “want to hire someone who has bad press,” adding, “No one wants that association.”

However, at the time, Warner Bros cited an apparent “lack of chemistry” between Heard and Momoa around the decision to potentially replace Heard.

Aquaman 2 is scheduled for release on 17 March 2023 – even as the petition to remove Heard from the movie continues to gain traction online.

At the time of writing, the Change.org petition has received 4.3 million signatures.