Amber Heard spokesperson denies actor has been cut from Aquaman sequel

Conflicting reports emerge over Heard’s role in superhero franchise after defamation trial brought against her by ex-husband Johnny Depp

A spokesperson for Amber Heard has denied reports that the actor has been cut from the Aquaman sequel, in the aftermath of the very public defamation trial brought against her by her ex-husband, Johnny Depp.

Heard was set to reprise her role as Mera, Aquaman’s love interest, in the upcoming film Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. But on Tuesday, an anonymous “insider” told gossip website Just Jared that the role had been recast.

“Warner Bros. decided to recast Amber Heard’s role after screentesting the movie. They are going to be doing reshoots with Jason Momoa and Nicole Kidman,” they said.

In a statement to Variety on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Heard denied the report and said: “The rumour mill continues as it has from day one – inaccurate, insensitive and slightly insane.”

Just Jared later updated its story to say that sources close to the production had told them she had “not been completely cut from the film. She still has a small role.” However, it insisted other sources still maintained Mera was being completely recast.

Heard previously played Mera in the first Aquaman film and in Justice League. During the defamation trial, Heard alleged she had to “fight really hard” to keep the role, due to the negative publicity from Depp’s abuse allegations against her.

She told the court that she had been given a new version of the sequel’s script that removed a fight scene, resulting in a “very pared-down version” of her part.

During the trial, DC Films chief, Walter Hamada, confirmed the studio had briefly considered recasting Heard’s character in the sequel – not because of the abuse allegations, but because of a lack of chemistry between Heard and Momoa, who pays Aquaman. Hamada denied that the studio had reduced her role in the sequel.

Both Heard and Depp’s careers are uncertain in the aftermath of the highly publicised trial that launched a storm of social media commentary. Depp had sued Heard over a 2018 Washington Post column which he argued had implied he had been abusive towards her, despite him not being named in the piece.

Earlier this month, Heard was ordered to pay Depp US$10m in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, after the jury decided his reputation had been damaged. Depp was ordered to pay Heard $2m after she argued that a Depp press agent defamed her by calling her allegations “an abuse hoax”.

In a preview of an interview that will air on NBC in the US this week, Heard said she felt she had been unfairly treated on social media during the trial. The TikTok hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp had nearly 20bn views while #justiceforamberheard racked up about 80m.

“I don’t care what one thinks about me or what judgments you want to make about what happened in the privacy of my own home, in my marriage, behind closed doors,” she said. “I don’t presume the average person should know those things. And so I don’t take it personally.

“But even somebody who is sure I’m deserving of all this hate and vitriol, even if you think that I’m lying, you still couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me that you think on social media there’s been a fair representation. You cannot tell me that you think that this has been fair.”

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is set to be released around the world in March 2023.

Guardian staff

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