What's next for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard after legal battle?

The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' actor has already announced a new music album coming out in July

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While the celebrity trial of the decade has ended, the fall out and consequences of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s defamation case continues.

Both have been ordered to pay each other damages, but Heard has revealed she doesn’t have the money.

A jubilant Depp has promised fans that “the best is yet to come”, but from a career standpoint, both Heard and the Pirates of the Caribbean actor may face an uphill battle after their entire private lives were laid bare in public.

From whether or not Depp will pursue the money, to when either of them will work again, here’s what’s next for Depp and Heard.

Depp's music career and new album with Jeff Beck

Musician Jeff Beck, who Depp has been touring with in England, announced at a gig in Gateshead, England on Thursday that the pair would be releasing a new album in July.

"I'm gonna take this opportunity and tell you I met this guy five years ago, and we've never stopped laughing since," Beck said amid a six-song set he played with Depp.

"We actually made an album. I don't know how it happened."

It's not the first time they've spoken about this project, as Depp announced it in April 2020 on Instagram in a post that described Beck as "my dear friend and my brother ... one of my all time guitar heroes".

At the time, they released a cover of John Lennon's Isolations, a track from the sessions, as it resonated with pandemic lockdowns that were going on.

“Lennon’s prophetic words are pure poetry; the profundity of his lyrics seemed to Jeff and me especially fitting for what’s happening right now,” Depp said.

Depp also plays in the supergroup Hollywood Vampires alongside Alice Cooper and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry.

Heard’s appeal will feature more testimony

Actress Amber Heard talks to her lawyer Elaine Bredehoft in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Virginia, US, on 16 May. EPA

The actress’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft has already shared that Heard plans to appeal the decision, with Bredehoft saying she believed the jury was “confused” by the case.

Speaking on the Today show, Bredehoft said that “an enormous amount of evidence” that would have helped Heard’s case was suppressed during the trial.

“That's because she was demonised here. A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed, and it caused the jury to be confused.”

Bredehoft said the appeal would feature additional information that the actress had not been allowed to testify about during the trial.

Will Amber Heard pay Johnny Depp the money?

While the jury awarded Heard $2 million, and Depp $10m plus $5m in punitive damages, the latter was reduced to $350,000 by the judge, based on state laws in Virginia which limit punitive damages.

Bredehoft told the Today show that the Aquaman actress will be appealing the verdict, and said that Heard can “absolutely not” pay Depp the millions.

In his closing statement, Depp’s lawyer Ben Chew told the jury the case "has never been about money" nor about “punishing” his ex-wife, which leads legal and Hollywood experts to conclude the actor will not demand the money.

Johnny Depp's lawyer has claimed the trial was not about him being awarded money. AFP

“I imagine that they will try to settle it and you'll see a PR statement that they are not seeking to enforce the judgment,” legal analyst Emily D Baker told People. “If they do want to enforce the judgment, that starts a whole separate process in court, of potentially attaching property, setting up ways it has to be paid.”

After the verdict, Depp told reporters: “From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome.”

Baker said: “I imagine — and if I'm team Depp, this is what I would do — they'd look at getting an injunction to stop Amber Heard from repeating statements that the jury found were defamatory and then stipulating that the payments won't be made and there won't be any judgment outstanding. If he's not interested in the money, I think he's more interested in her not repeating these allegations."

Will Heard work in Hollywood again?

“I had to fight really hard to keep my career,” Heard testified on May 17. “After I got my temporary restraining order, I lost opportunities. I got cancelled from jobs. I got dropped from a campaign I had shot. I fought to keep my job in the biggest movie opportunity I had to date — Justice League, with the option [for] Aquaman.”

Hollywood stars have been quick to show their support for Depp, with Jennifer Aniston, Taika Waititi and Jason Momoa all liking Depp’s victory statement on Instagram. However, celebrities don’t have the power to cast Depp, which is down to the studios.

“Both of them will work again, but I think it will be a while before a major studio will consider them ‘safe’ enough to bet on,” former entertainment lawyer Matthew Belloni told Time. “The personal baggage that was revealed in this trial was just too icky for a studio to want to deal with.”

Eric Rose, an LA crisis management and communications expert, said to Time: “From a reputation-management perspective, there can be no winners. They’ve bloodied each other up.

"It becomes more difficult now for studios to hire either actor because you’re potentially alienating a large segment of your audience who may not like the fact that you have retained either Johnny or Amber for a specific project because feelings are so strong now.”

Could Depp return to the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise?

"PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES"

Captain Jack Sparrow (JOHNNY DEPP) and Joshamee GibbsÕ (KEVIN R. McNALLY) are unpleasantly surprised to find themselves at the gates of St. James Palace rather than freedom as they exit a paddy wagon.

Ph: Peter Mountain

©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In his suit, Depp claimed Heard’s allegations — although she never mentioned him by name in her Washington Post op-ed — had caused him to lose tens of millions of dollars in career earnings.

In 2020, Depp was dropped from the Fantastic Beasts franchise and replaced with Mads Mikkelsen after losing his 2020 libel trial in the UK.

Since 2018, Depp has appeared in three films, all of which were not the big theatrical releases, nor did they enjoy the success he had previously.

Following the trial, entertainment experts have been conflicted on what Depp’s post-verdict career will look like, although another Pirates of the Caribbean films looks likely.

With a Pirates of the Caribbean reboot featuring Margot Robbie already in the works — amid rumours she would portray Captain Jack Sparrow’s daughter — Depp could either cameo in that, or front his own movie.

“I absolutely believe post-verdict that Pirates is primed for rebooting with Johnny as Captain Jack back on board,” a former Disney executive told People. “There is just too much potential box-office treasure for a beloved character deeply embedded in the Disney culture.”

A Hollywood agent added that Depp's career could still "flourish, because this is the world that we live in”.

A version of this article was originally published on June 3, 2022.

Updated: June 06, 2022, 7:06 AM
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