The legal saga of actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, Hollywood actress Amber Heard is one of many moving parts. While the libel lawsuit against a British tabloid is seemingly all said and done, the echoes of the testimonies and evidence revealed at the court case presided over by Justice Andrew Nicol are still sending waves through the industry.
Earlier this year, Australian authorities, with the help of the FBI, reopened investigations into Heard’s alleged bypassing of the law when she brought her dogs, undeclared, into Australia. Seemingly the actress isn’t worried about repercussions after naming her new pet, Barnaby Joyce after the Australian Deputy Prime Minister. In addition, one other instance of problems coming back to haunt is the revealed text exchange between a Marvel star and Depp that was used in the case. Now, Paul Bettany has weighed in.
Currently, after months and months of litigation, the Pirates of the Caribbean star and DC actress will go to court in front of Judge Penney Azcarate in April next year. The Fairfax County legal battle sees Depp sue Heard in a $50 million defamation case after the latter wrote an OpEd in The Washington Post in 2018. While Depp was never mentioned by name, the actor will take Heard to court over the slew of domestic abuse allegations made and those that followed. Elon Musk and James Franco will testify in the case.
Over the years, many of Heard’s allegations of domestic violence have been called into question, with new bodycam footage revealing a starkly different set of circumstances than was first reported to the LAPD. The ongoing controversy and conflict have seen the trends #FireAmberHeard and #JusticeForJohnnyDepp continuously ignite online. The former sparked after Heard was recast in director James Wan’s Aquaman (2018) sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2022), where she will reprise her role as Mera alongside Jason Mamoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman). Meanwhile, Depp was forced to resign from his own Warner Bros. production — Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) — as the dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, with Hannibal‘s Mads Mikkelsen taking over the role.
Despite JK Rowling herself receiving backlash over her continued debate over transgender issues after the trailer of the Fantastic Beasts franchise movie dropped with Mikkelsen in Depp’s role, Harry Potter fans took to social media to declare a boycott over the upcoming movie. Amid the libel suit and ongoing controversy, Depp recently won the lifetime achievement award at the San Sebastian Film Festival with his most recent feature, Minamata (2020), finally securing a domestic US release earlier this month.
Depp’s film career is still shaky at best with his loss at the London high court and subsequent refusal for an appeal following the outcome of the libel case against The Sun and Dan Wootton despite support from ex-partners Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis. It is in this case, where Depp and Depp’s Lawyer went to court over The Sun‘s choice of the word “wife-beater,” that brought one popular Marvel star into the mix, and they have just spoken out.
Paul Bettany graced the small screen at the start of the year in Marvel’s WandaVision alongside Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff. As the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four, following the continued delay of Black Widow (2021), WandaVision saw a new take on the MCU and Wanda’s transition into the Scarlet Witch. Bettany starred as Vision in the sitcom-style suburbia series, with both MCU veterans joined by Marvel Studios newcomer Kathryn Hahn (Agatha Harkness). Hahn will star in her own Agatha series coming to Disney+ in the near future.
Bettany was recently interviewed by The Independent and was asked about those 2013 messages between him and Depp — the ones that were then used in court during Depp’s libel suit. The messages between the two were read aloud at the 2020 court case.
For context, they said:
In one text, Depp wrote, “Let’s burn Amber!!!” to which Bettany responded: “Having thought it through I don’t think we should burn Amber – she’s delightful company and easy on the eye, plus I’m not sure she’s a witch. We could of course try the English course of action in these predicaments – we do a drowning test. Thoughts?”
In the interview, Bettany finally weighed in on his messages being included in the libel trial. He said:
“I think that’s a really difficult subject to talk about and I think that I just pour fuel on the fire […] It was very strange. It was a strange moment,” he says, halting again for what feels like an eternity. “What was strange about it was you suddenly have one of the most scabrous newspapers in London and their lawyers pouring through your texts for the last 10 years. Can you imagine what it would be like, honestly, to have a bunch of lawyers go through every one of your emails and texts for 10 years? All I can tell you was that it was an unpleasant feeling.”
The repercussions of the revealed texts — at least in the sense of Bettany’s career — have been seemingly non-existent. The actor went on the star in WandaVision, and while his future in the MCU is currently not confirmed, Vision is likely to appear again further down the line in Phase Four or Phase Five, or possibly even further in Marvel’s future. For his onscreen love, Olsen will star in next year’s big sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), alongside Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange.
For Depp and Heard, the defamation suit went to court in April after repeated attempts from Heard’s team to get the case thrown out of court. Recently, Depp scored a handful of wins against his ex-wife — the two first met on the set of The Rum Diary (2011) — when the court ruled in favor of the Captain Jack Sparrow actor and ordered the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to reveal Heard’s alleged donation of part of her $7 million divorce settlement, as well as being granted access to Heard’s phone records.