The head of DC Films, which produced “Aquaman,” says the creative team was concerned about Amber Heard’s role in the film’s sequel due to a lack of chemistry with co-star Jason Momoa.
On Tuesday, a deposition recorded in March from Walter Hamada, chairman of DC Films, which is a division of Warner Bros., was played for the jury in the libel suit between Heard and her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. Hamada testified that “Aquaman” was the company’s highest-grossing film ever. He said the studio never planned to portray Heard as a co-lead in “Aquaman 2” and Heard’s role was not reduced in the upcoming film, titled “Aquaman the Lost Kingdom.”
“The size of the movie role that she has was determined early in the development of the script, which would have happened in 2018, I would say. The involvement of the character in the story was sort of what it has been since the beginning,” Hamada said in the deposition. “From the earliest stages of script development, the film was built around the character of Arthur and the character of Orm. Arthur being Jason Momoa and Orm being Patrick Wilson. They have always been the co-leads of the film.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed she wrote that the actor claims to have defamed her and made her lose her job. Heard countersued Depp for $100 million, claiming her attorney’s statements in which he called her allegations of abuse by Depp a “hoax” defamed her and cost her work.
Heard testified that she thinks her role in “Aquaman 2” was cut back and that she had to fight to even be in the film, which is in post-production and is slated to debut in 2023. (CNN and Warner Bros. are both part of Warner Bros. Discovery)
But Hamada testified in his deposition that after he filmed “Aquaman,” there were discussions about Heard’s role in a sequel.
“I think editorially they were able to make that relationship work in the first movie, but there was concern that it took a lot of effort to get there and would we be better off recasting, finding someone who had a better, more natural chemistry with Jason Momoa and moving forward that way,” Hamada said.
Hamada testified that the pair seemed to have good chemistry in “Aquaman,” but the film relied on “post-production magic,” including editing, sound design, and music, to help “ manufacture” their chemistry.
“It’s like what makes a movie star a movie star. You know it when you see it. And the chemistry wasn’t there,” Hamada said in the deposition. “A good editor and a good filmmaker can choose the right takes and choose the right moments and put scenes together in relation to the score. Stage music makes a big difference.
Hamada also testified that Heard’s role in the film and his ability to renegotiate his compensation were not affected by his involvement in the dispute with Depp, or by any statements made by representatives of Depp.
Earlier Tuesday, Heard’s attorneys closed their case.
Heard testified for five days this month. Witnesses on his side have included actress Ellen Barkin, whose recorded testimony was played for jurors last week. Barkin said that while having sex with Depp in the 1990s, she once saw the actor throw a wine bottle against a wall during an altercation.
A motion to strike Heard’s counterclaims against Depp was denied on Tuesday.
His team is expected to continue presenting rebuttal witnesses on Wednesday, which could include Kate Moss, Depp’s former girlfriend.
Oral arguments are expected on Friday.