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What kind of future awaits Johnny Depp and Amber Heard now that the trial is over?

With the world agog at the dirty laundry aired in the Depp-Heard trial, can either of these two Hollywood powerhouses recover their composure and career?

Jeffrey May
Update:
With the world agog at the dirty laundry aired in the Depp-Heard trial, can either of these two Hollywood powerhouses recover their composure and career?
Drew AngererGetty

The world has been so enthralled with Johnny Depp and Amber Heard that it seems perhaps churlish to ask, but once this is all over, once the lights are out and the news media wanders away in search of their next headline-grabbing power couple in free-fall, what then?

Johnny Depp has long been in the consciousness of the cinema-going public as an actor par excellence, a generational talent who shone as Gilbert Grape, dropped jaws as Edward Scissorhands, and even held his own opposite an admittedly aged Marlon Brando in the overlooked Don Juan DeMarco.

It seems unthinkable that the eminently bankable Hollywood A lister, only because there is nothing above that, no A+ list, could somehow struggle to find roles, no matter how dirty the laundry that has been aired so publicly. But there is evidence that even his bright star can be, and has been, tarnished.

Worth a read: Amber Heard’s “excellent grounds” for appeal

Amber Heard, 25 years Depp’s junior, has a perhaps a less storied career, but in the film business, the bottom line is everything, and Heard’s repertoire includes a phenomenal amount of box-office success.

With recurring roles in the Justice League and Aquaman franchises, Heard’s Hollywood pull is every bit as bankable as Depp’s. But like her erstwhile husband, there are signs that even the Almighty dollar may not be enough to keep the contracts rolling in.

In testimony given in Fairfax, Virginia, Heard revealed that she is living out in the desert, in Yucca Valley, California to be precise. She is in the small town near the Joshua Tree National Park, living as a mother to one-year-old daughter Oonagh Paige, and simply “wandering”.

“I am harassed, humiliated, threatened every single day,” revealed Heard. “Even just walking into this courtroom, sitting here in front of the world, having the worst parts of my life, things that I’ve lived through, used to humiliate me. People want to kill me, and they tell me so every day. People want to put my baby in the microwave, and they tell me that.”

“Perhaps it’s easy to forget that, but I’m a human being. I just want Johnny to leave me alone. I don’t deserve this. I want to move on.”

With Aquaman an the Lost Kingdom set to hit theaters early next year, Heard has claimed that the negative publicity from the trial has left her fighting to stay on the screen, saying that her role was “pared down”, a claim that DC Films President Walter Hamada denies. He has testified during the trial that Heard’s part was never intended to be a central one, describing the sequel as a “buddy-comedy” between Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson.

Depp has complained of being unable to land a big-budget studio film in the wake of the controversy stirred up in the trials, claiming that he has lost a payday valued at $22.5 million when the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film was scrapped.

However, his reputation as a difficult actor has been decades in the making, with no secrets being made of his tardiness to sets and unprofessional behavior.

In light of this reticence to sign him to any big deals, Johnny has decided to lean into his music, making surprise guest appearances in the UK playing with Jeff Beck. His band, Hollywood Vampires, where he jams with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, has long been his sideline and now it looks as if Depp wants to make it his mainstay, at least in the short term.

Jeff Beck has hinted that there may be more collaboration between the two in the near future, as well, posting on his own website, “You’ll be hearing more from Johnny and me in a little while but until then we hope you find some comfort and solidarity in our take on this Lennon classic.”

Whatever happens in the next few months, Hollywood is generally a forgiving community. There will be some time spent in purgatory, to be sure, as both stars have their drawing power dimmed. But if history tells us anything, it is that time will heal any rift between either of the two protagonists in this drama and their Hollywood paymasters.

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