The DC Films president testified on Tuesday that the studio was considering replacing Amber Heard for “Aquaman 2” over concerns she lacked chemistry with star Jason Momoa.
Heard was ultimately chosen for the sequel, but her lawyers argued that she nearly lost her job and could not renegotiate more money due to the backlash of her domestic abuse allegations against Johnny Depp. Heard is seeking $100 million in a libel counterclaim against Depp.
Walter Hamada, the boss of Warner Bros.’ The DC Unit, was the first witness called by Depp as they began their rebuttal of Heard’s counterclaim in court in Fairfax, Virginia.
However, he said the studio delayed deciding his option for several weeks as it considered recasting the role of Mera, who was Aquaman’s love interest in the first film.
“They didn’t have a lot of chemistry together,” Hamada said. “Editorially, they managed to make that relationship work in the first movie, but there were concerns that it took a lot of effort to get there.”
Hamada said the chemistry was created in post-production, using “film magic”, including the film’s score. He said it’s not uncommon for two leads to lack chemistry.
“You know it when you see it, and the chemistry just wasn’t there,” he said.
Heard was paid $1 million for the first “Aquaman” and $2 million for the sequel. This salary was in line with her original contract, but Heard’s agent testified that she should have been able to renegotiate more money due to the worldwide success of the first film. However, Hamada said that under his guidance at DC Films, he made it a point not to automatically renegotiate sequels.
“A big part of our philosophy was that we were going to hold people to their options,” he said.
Hamada said “Aquaman 2” – which will be released next year – was conceived as a “buddy comedy” between Momoa and Patrick Wilson, who plays King Orm, Aquaman’s half-brother. Heard alleged that his role had been “reduced” significantly over time, but Hamada said he had remained static since the film’s development in 2018.
Heard’s team claimed she lost at least one other role – an Amazon film starring Gael Garcia Bernal – as well as lucrative endorsement deals due to the online campaign against her for her abuse allegations against Depp.