The recent civil defamation trial between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard reached its verdict two weeks ago, but it’s still filling the headlines and the aftermath of the trial will still follow them and their careers in the future. Most of Depp’s fans are hoping to see him return to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as Jack Sparrow, and there are still tons of questions about it. The question in the headline of this article is a million-dollar question, and the answer definitely isn’t simple as the question sounds.
As far as Disney is concerned, Depp will not return as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean, and the producer Jerry Bruckheimer recently revealed that there are no plans to bring Depp back “at the moment.” Depp himself said during the trial that he wouldn’t return to the franchise even if Disney would come to him with “$300 million and a million alpacas”, nothing on this earth would get him to go back and work with Disney on a Pirates of the Caribbean film again. Although there are some arguments that could say “never say never”, currently it’s not likely that Depp will work on any Disney movie in the future, let alone Pirates of the Caribbean.
It’s known that Depp lost his job in Disney’s franchise Pirates of the Caribbean, in which he played the role of Captain Jack Sparrow throughout five movies between 2003 and 2017. Shortly after the release of the latest installment — Dead Men Tell No Tales — in 2017, Disney started developing the sixth movie with Depp set to return. However, Depp was let go by Disney after Amber Heard accused Depp of domestic violence in 2018. Depp said on the witness stand that he believes that Disney fired him because they wanted to protect their reputation, even though they fired him before he was proven guilty or before he managed to say anything in his defense. But, did Disney make a hasty move?
Four years after the controversial article that Heard published in The Washington Post, the jury found Heard liable for three counts of defamation, and Depp was found Depp found liable for one count. Depp was awarded $350,000 in punitive damages, plus $10 million in compensatory damages, while Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages. Still, Depp formally won the trial, and Heard announced she will appeal the trial verdict, so it’s likely we haven’t seen the end of this legal saga. Of course, there’s still a question of how will this infect their careers in the future.
Depp was previously fired by Warner Bros. from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, although they still paid Depp $16 million dollars of salary. So, WB paid $16 to not have Depp in the third movie of the franchise because they thought the presence of Depp would negatively influence the movie’s success at the box office. Mads Mikkelsen replaced Depp in the latest Fantastic Beasts installment, and although Mikkelsen’s performance was praised, the movie grossed only $401 million against the $200 million budget, which makes it the lowest-grossing movie in the whole Wizarding World franchise. Would have this movie achieved better or worse commercial result if Depp was a part of it? We will never find that out, but Depp’s fans can still use this as an argument for Disney to not make the same mistake.
The petition to rehire Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise currently counts over 800k signatures, but from what have seen so far, it seems that Depp feels betrayed and he wouldn’t want to work with Disney again. During the testimony, Depp basically said “they didn’t want me then, and I don’t want them now.” One of Disney’s former executives said in a recent interview that he doesn’t buy Depp’s claims, saying that he doesn’t believe that based on Depp’s money troubles, especially given that Pirates of the Caribbean is a billion-dollar global franchise.
While Depp lost his job on two big franchises and he’s currently trying to revive his career, Amber Heard is still set to return as Mera in the upcoming sequel Aquaman, which is set to be released next March. The production of the movie has already wrapped, although there are still numerous rumors about her role. Some rumors said her role has been reduced, which Heard also claimed during the trial, and the most recent rumors are saying that WB and DC might still recast her, but those rumors were quickly debunked by her agent.
Depp’s fans are particularly furious because Heard has kept the role in the Warner Bros. movie, the same Warner Bros. which fired Depp from the Fantastic Beasts franchise. The petition to remove Heard from the Aquaman sequel currently counts over 3 million signatures, and while WB also remains silent about it, it remains to be seen how will Aquaman 2 perform at the box office next March, especially because the first Aquaman movie is still the highest-grossing DC movie ever.
As we said, Depp formally won the trial, but there are still questions about his career in the future. Depp is currently said to star as Louis XV in the Jeanne du Barry movie. Although Disney didn’t make any official statements, we remember how it was with James Gunn and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, so we could say that history learns us to never say never. And as for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, everyone can agree that Pirates of the Caribbean aren’t really Pirates of the Caribbean without Jack Sparrow. So, Disney, whatever you’re doing or planning to do, good luck, you’re gonna need it.