A recent piece by The Hollywood Reporter exploring the recent legal drama surrounding Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard puts the responsibility for the actor’s troubles on “his unquenchable thirst for revenge.”
THR’s article begins with a focus on Depp’s absence at the recent 28th EnergaCamerimage cinematography gala, wherein the actor agreed to appear via video feed to promote his new film, Minamata, but instead only submitted a photo of himself “open-shirted and with platinum blond hair peeking out from under a pair of colorful scarves” standing behind what appeared to be bars in a Caribbean prison.
“Depp’s absence offered a fitting denouement to a month of reputational and career devastation,” THR stated as they proceeded to then provide a summary of recent events, ranging from the loss of his libel case against The Sun and his departure from the Fantastic Beasts upcoming sequel.
Depp is in the process of appealing the case against The Sun.
“Over the course of four short years, Depp has spiraled from an A-list star responsible for more than $10 billion in worldwide box office to Hollywood persona non grata,” wrote THR, who described his legal actions against Heard and The Sun as “a scorched-earth legal strategy that has seen him sue everyone in his path.”
Describing Depp’s “movie-star implosion” as sudden and spectacular, THR then asserted “The claims made in at least six recent suits, along with multiple interviews conducted by THR, paint a picture of an out-of-control Depp, a casualty of Hollywood’s sycophant culture in which his wild spending and substance abuse were rarely challenged.”
One anonymous producer shared his opinion that Depp has “just never been told no for the past 35 years.”
“That’s typical in Hollywood,” he admitted. “But I’ve never seen it to this extent.”
THR further speculated that “things won’t likely improve for Depp anytime soon thanks to the havoc wrought in the U.K. case,” particularly due to some of the more aggressive and vulgar texts produced during the trial as evidence for both Depp and Heard’s respective legal teams.
Among the texts cited in support of their theory was one in which Depp told CAA agent Christian Carino” that Heard was “begging for total global humiliation.”
“She’s gonna get it,” Depp continued. “I’m gonna need your texts about San Francisco brother … I’m even sorry to ask … But she sucked [Elon Musk’s] crooked dick and he gave her some shitty lawyers … I have no mercy, no fear and not an ounce of emotion or what I once thought was love for this gold digging, low level, dime a dozen, mushy, pointless dangling overused flappy fish market … I’m so f—-ing happy she wants to fight this out!!!”
Depp’s texts further added that “She will hit the wall hard!!! And I cannot wait to have this waste of a cum guzzler out of my life!!! I met f—-ing sublime little Russian here … Which makes me realize the time I blew on that 50 cent stripper … I wouldn’t touch her with a goddam glove.””
Bafflingly, at this point in their piece, THR takes a swing at Depp’s supporters, attempting to negatively conflate them with supporters of President Donald Trump and accusing them of being devoid of principles.
To do so, THR quoted Eric Schiffer, “a crisis PR rep whose clients include a number of high-profile Hollywood and sports figures” who has no relation to the relative events.
Schiffer stated “He has suffered immense reputational carnage from a reckless set of choices that has left him in septic muck.”
“Can he come out of that?” Schiffer asked. “It really comes down to Johnny’s choices. He still has a fan base that in many ways is like Donald Trump’s with their emotional intensity and commitment to a star icon. It’s not based around principles. It’s about charisma and their identification of the range of characters that he’s played.”
Turning to Depp’s recent legal battle loss against The Sun, THR asserted that the Judge’s declaration that he believed Heard’s allegations was the actor’s “most damaging hit” as “in Hollywood’s #MeToo era, that presents a PR nightmare that no studio is eager to invite.”
To this end, another anonymous Hollywood insider, this time a studio head was quoted as noting that “You simply can’t work with him now. He’s radioactive”.
THR next spoke to how Fox and Warner Bros. continued working relationship with Depp in light of these allegations, on the Murder on the Orient Express and Fantastic Beasts sequels, respectively, “raised eyes around town.”
The entertainment trade, describing why Warner Bros.’s decision was “particularly baffling,” recounted a story shared by their sources of how Depp’s surprise on-stage, in-costume appearance at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald panel led to tension among the film’s production team.
“Sources say Heard, who also appeared onstage as part of Warners’ presentation the same day for Aquaman, was blindsided,” wrote THR. “Despite Heard having once filed a restraining order against Depp, marketing chief Blair Rich approved Depp’s inclusion, say sources. Backstage, tensions erupted between Depp and Rich, according to eyewitnesses, and Rich later complained to colleagues that Depp spoke to her in a menacing manner.”
THR also claimed that insiders had informed them that Depp’s long-time relationship with producer Jerry Bruckheimer “has frayed in recent months,” but did not provide any details, only noting that “the defamation ruling may have made his casting [in Bruckheimer’s upcoming Harry Houdini television series] untenable.”
Criticism was then directed towards the various legal actions Depp has taken against his former associates, including business manager Joel Mandel and “father figure” Jake Bloom, with THR quoting yet another anonymous “industry figure” who said, “The abuse and drinking and drugging are one thing — certainly horrible — but then to top it off by going after the very people who were the closest business and personal relationships for years, shows a level of toxicity rarely seen.”
The piece offered further pessimism towards Depp’s upcoming “$50 million defamation suit against Heard in Virginia,” with Time’s Up Legal Defense co-founder and self-excused former member of Heard’s Legal team Roberta Kaplan telling THR that “It is really hard to imagine why anyone would ever decide to pursue a strategy like that, especially now that — after a three-week trial with dozens of witnesses testifying and hundreds of exhibits — the U.K. judge dismissed every unfounded attack on Amber’s credibility and concluded that Depp did indeed assault Amber on 12 separate occasions.
“Amber Heard did not bring this on herself,” Kaplan added. “She sought a [temporary restraining order] back in 2016 so that she could change the locks on her front door and be safe. All the litigation since then … [has] been generated by Johnny Depp himself.”
The next aspect of Depp’s life to come under fire was his “extravagant” spending, with THR taking specific issue with how studios “pick up the tab” for his excesses, such as alleged protection agreement that called for a “fully licensed and qualified security personnel for JD and JD’s residence while JD is on location on a 24/7 basis … for JD’s companion and children while JD is on location on a 24/7 basis (whether or not JD’s companion and children are on location).”
“According to a source familiar with Depp’s contract, ‘Celebrities have security, but not teams doing overlapping, 24-hour shifts.’” wrote THR. “In addition to a personal sound technician to handle his earpiece needs — ‘so he doesn’t have to learn lines,’ adds the source — Depp required two personal assistants as well as a $200,000-a-year ‘exclusive assistant’ during prep, principal photography, postproduction and for a period of six months surrounding the release of the film, and who travels first-class.”
Unsurprisingly, THR next takes yet another aim at Depp’s supporters, considering them to be “among the most loyal and shrill on Twitter.”
“They heap praise on the actor, eviscerate anyone associated with Heard, and have posted exclusive audio recordings of the couple fighting (albeit edited in a way that favors the actor),” accused THR, before sharing Kaplan’s opinion that Depp’s “army” of fans consists primarily of a fake bot army “amplifying what real fans post.”
“My firm is involved in a lot of controversial cases,” said Kaplan, ramping up for another disingenuous comparison. “Our clients are suing the white supremacists and neo-Nazis responsible for the violence in Charlottesville. I have clients who are suing Donald Trump. But, by far, the one case [of ours] that has generated the greatest amount of hostile social media attacks is Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard. Not even close.”
However, the article’s next few paragraphs note that Depp’s ‘Q’ score, “a measure of the familiarity and appeal of a brand, star or company”, continues to rank among the top 20 for celebrities.
Marketing Evaluations president Steven Levitt observed that’s Depp remains one of the more appealing actors, although there has been somewhat of a slide.
“Frankly,” he continued, “there are some people who pay attention to his private life. And some people tend to disregard that and all they care about is, ‘Does this person entertain me?’ But unless there’s another Jack Sparrow ahead, which really works to his advantage, I would not expect his positive Q score to go up in the next year or two.”
THR also spoke to Erik Engelen, a German acquisitions executive at Splendid Film, who compared Depp’s stardom to that of Passion of the Christ director Mel Gibson.
“Nobody is saying we’re not seeing this film or we’re not buying the DVD because it’s Mel Gibson,” explained Engelen. “The general audience is not that much into the whole persona of things as we sometimes think. Johnny Depp is still a very big star. And the fact that he is coming back to the independent world is maybe a good thing for this career. From a creative point of view, there is probably more to do there than in the studio world.”
In conclusion to their piece, THR quoted an “anonymous top crisis communications specialist,” who explicitly described Depp as “a worst-case scenario for handling bad PR.”
“I use him as the model for telling my clients what not to do,” said the specialist. “It’s not a case of shooting himself in the foot. He shot himself in the face.”
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