Testimony continued this week in the controversial Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial, with the revelation on Tuesday that Warner Bros/DC was considering dropping Heard from the Aquaman 2 film not because of backlash over her lawsuit but because she allegedly lacked chemistry with the male lead, Jason Momoa.
Testifying under oath in a video deposition, Walter Hamada, the head of DC, appeared as a defense witness for Depp, who is being sued for $100 million by Heard. But the studio executive tried to dispel the notion that her allegations of abuse had anything to do with the casting strategy. Heard’s lawyers are arguing, on the other hand, that she nearly lost her role because of the backlash to her claims that Depp had abused her.
“They [Heard and Momoa] didn’t have a lot of chemistry together,” stated Hamada in his deposition. “Editorially they were able to make that relationship work in the first movie, but there was a concern that it took a lot of effort to get there…You know it when you see it, and the chemistry wasn’t there.”
Kathryn Arnold, a witness for Heard, further testified that it was only the via intervention of Jason Momoa and director James Wan—both “adamant that she was in the film”— that she held on to her role. Heard’s lawyers further argue that she should have been able to renegotiate a more lucrative contract due to the box-office success of the two Aquaman films. Heard got a cool million for the first one and an even cooler $2 million for the second. But Hamada made clear in his testimony that it was not his policy to renegotiate for sequels, testifying that “a big part of our philosophy was we were going to hold people to their options.
Countering Heard’s belief that her role was being “pared down,” Hamada testified it had not changed since the series was developed four years ago. Industry observers believe that Hamada’s testimony will be crucial to the outcome of the trial, which continues in a Virginia courtroom.