Amber Heard’s official return as Mera in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” has caused a stir among Johnny Depp’s supporters, who launched an online campaign to have her removed from the sequel. The trailer for the upcoming movie was revealed during the CinemaCon 2023 event and features Heard briefly in a battle scene alongside Jason Momoa, who reprises his role as Arthur. Despite the fact that the trailer has yet to be released to the general public, the studio verified to the media on Wednesday that Heard is indeed in it.
The online campaign to remove Heard from the sequel started after she and Depp traded allegations of domestic violence and abuse at their high-profile defamation trial in Virginia. Depp’s supporters created a petition, which has received over 4.6 million signatures, to have her removed from the movie. The jury in the trial ended up awarding Depp more than $10 million, while Heard received $2 million. After losing the case, Heard expressed her disappointment that the overwhelming amount of evidence was insufficient to stand up against the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of her ex-husband.
During the trial, Heard testified that she nearly lost her role in “Aquaman” due to the media firestorm surrounding her legal battles with Depp. However, the then-president of Warner Bros. Pictures claimed in a video deposition that Heard was almost recast due to a lack of onscreen “chemistry” between her and Momoa rather than because of the Depp controversy. Former studio head Walter Hamada stated that although they had great chemistry, it took a lot of effort to get there throughout post-production. He also contradicted Heard’s assertion that her role in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” had been scaled down due to the Depp situation, claiming that Mera was never intended to be the sequel’s central character and that her and Momoa’s chemistry was insufficient.
Despite the fact that both Heard and Depp received a mix of hate and support on social media throughout the trial, animosity toward the former was more common. The controversy surrounding their legal battles has spilled over into their professional lives, with Depp losing his role in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise following the verdict and Heard returning as Mera in the upcoming “Aquaman” sequel.
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The trailer for “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” has not yet been released to the general public, but the studio’s decision to include Heard in it has angered many of Depp’s supporters. The petition to remove her from the sequel continues to gain signatures, and it remains to be seen how the controversy will affect the movie’s box office performance.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time that a controversy has surrounded a major movie release. In 2017, Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” underwent extensive reshoots after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against Kevin Spacey, who was originally cast in the lead role. Scott made the decision to remove Spacey from the movie and replace him with Christopher Plummer, a move that was praised by many in the industry.
While the controversy surrounding “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is different in nature, it raises similar questions about the intersection of art and morality. Should an actor’s personal life affect their professional career? Should studios be held accountable for the actions of their stars? These are complex questions that don’t have easy answers, but they’re worth asking as we navigate an increasingly complex entertainment landscape.
In the end, it will be up to audiences to decide whether they want to support a movie that features an actor they disagree with. Some may choose to boycott “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” in protest, while others may choose to see it regardless of the controversy. Either way, the debate