Ana de Armas, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Chris Pine, and Gal Gadot now find themselves included on the long list of celebrity names dropped during Johnny Depp's ongoing defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. But what do those stars have to do with this contentious case?
The famous quintet can thank entertainment industry consultant Kathryn Arnold for bringing them up in court Monday. Arnold, a paid expert for Heard's team, testified that the actress might be enjoying the same career success as the aforementioned actors if not for team Depp's alleged "smear campaign" against her.
"When you look at the time frame of when the Waldman statements came out, and you look at what was going on with Ms. Heard's career prior to the statement and what happened after the statement, it's very clear to make that correlation," Arnold testified, referring to Depp's attorney, Adam Waldman, who accused Heard of orchestrating an "abuse hoax" in an interview with the Daily Mail in 2020.
"It would have been very reasonable to believe her career would have been on an upward trajectory of those other actors if not for the hoax allegations," Arnold continued. Instead, she told the court that Heard's "world has been silent in terms of opportunities." In all, Arnold estimates the actress suffered $50 million in damages due to Waldman's quote.
During cross-examination, Depp's team pushed back on that assessment, arguing that Arnold was comparing apples to oranges by relating Heard's career trajectory to major stars like Momoa, Pine, Gadot, and Zendaya, all of whom, they contended, were either the stars of blockbuster franchises or had higher-profile careers than Heard at that point. For instance, Depp's team noted that Gadot played a recurring role in the Fast & Furious franchise before joining the DC universe as Wonder Woman, a marquee character in the Justice League. While Arnold called Heard's 2018 Aquaman role a "star-is-born moment," she played a supporting role as Mera, an Atlantian princess and love interest to Momoa's titular superhero.
Warner Bros. Pictures Amber Heard and Jason Momoa in 'Aquaman'
Heard previously testified that she had to "fight really hard" to appear as Mera for the first time in 2017's Justice League, and that her role in Aquaman 2 was significantly pared down after attacks from Depp's team in the press. "I lost opportunities," Heard said. "I got dropped from jobs and campaigns. I fought to keep my job and the biggest movie opportunity I had to date [with] Justice League with the option to [star in] Aquaman. I had to fight really hard to stay in Justice League because that was the time of the divorce."
In prior testimony, Heard also alleged that Warner Bros. "didn't want to include me" in Aquaman 2. When asked if she was "actively scheduling timing for filming" for the sequel before Depp's alleged smear campaign, Heard said yes. Asked if she was actively involved after Depp's team called her a liar in the press, she said, "The communications stopped at that point." (Heard received her $2 million salary but reportedly appears in the movie for 10 minutes.)
Last week Heard's talent agent Jessica Kovacevic testified that Warner Bros. wanted to replace Heard as Mera at one point. While Kovacevic told the court she personally believed the studio wanted to replace Heard due to bad press, she said the studio blamed the potential recasting on Heard's lack of chemistry with Momoa.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed she wrote chronicling her experiences as a domestic violence survivor. Though Heard never mentioned Depp by name, his lawyers argue that references to their client, and Heard's previous abuse allegations following their 2017 divorce, are clear and have damaged Depp's career and reputation. Heard has filed a $100 million countersuit, claiming Depp and his legal team defamed her by calling her allegations false.
The trial, which can be streamed live from Fairfax County, Va., will move to closing arguments Friday.