Johnny Depp’s legal team started their rebuttal testimony on Tuesday with the video deposition of Walter Hamada, the Warner Bros. executive who said that their concerns over casting Amber Heard in the Aquaman sequel had to do with her chemistry with Jason Momoa.
In her $100 million counterclaim to Depp’s defamation lawsuit and her testimony, Heard contended that her role was reduced as she faced a “smear campaign” orchestrated by her ex husband as well as the legal proceedings against her.
Hamada, in deposition testimony recorded earlier this year, said that there was a delay in the studio’s option to cast Heard in the sequel because of the concerns over her chemistry with Momoa in the first movie.
“You know it when you see it, and the chemistry wasn’t there,” Hamada said.
He said that their interactions were improved in the first Aquaman via post-production editing and input from director James Wan.
“A good editor and filmmaker can pick the right takes, can pick the right moments,” he said.
When Heard’s attorney suggested that such editing was a normal part of the filmmaking process, he said, “Sometimes it is easier than others.” He said that improving the chemistry between Momoa and Heard proved more difficult, but “the end result works.”
There was discussion of finding someone else who had more “natural chemistry” with Momoa, but Heard ultimately was cast, Hamada said.
Heard’s agent Jessica Kovacevic testified last week that Heard’s contract specified that she would be paid $2 million upfront for the sequel, which is reportedly double what the actress made for the first Aquaman. But Kovacevic said that Heard’s career suffered because of the negative publicity surrounding Depp’s lawsuit against her. In her counterclaim, Heard contends that Waldman’s claims that she fabricated domestic abuse allegations against Depp damaged her reputation.
Hamada said that there was no consideration for paying Heard more for the sequel, but that her pay was not affected by anything said by Johnny Depp or Adam Waldman, one of his attorneys. He did say that Momoa’s pay for the Aquaman sequel was renegotiated. He also suggested that the size of Heard’s role was determined by the early development of the script in 2018.
On Monday, producer Kathryn Arnold, an expert witness for Heard, testified that Momoa and Wan advocated for the actress to get the role in the sequel. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is set to open in 2023, but there is an online petition to remove her from the movie because of the legal proceedings.
Hamada’s Warner Bros. did drop Depp from Fantastics Beasts 3 after he lost his UK defamation case against The Sun over the publication’s claim that he was a “wife beater.” Depp said that he was asked to resign from the sequel by the studio.
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