After the trial, Depp and Hurd face uncertain career prospects

The jury’s finding that both Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard had been slandered in a lengthy public debate ended a horrific six-week trial that also raised questions about whether both actors could overcome a damaged reputation.

Fairfax, Va .

Wednesday’s verdict in Virginia revealed that Depp was tarnished by three statements in Hurd’s article in which she said she was a victim of violence. The jury awarded him more than $ 10 million. But the jury also concluded that Hurd slandered Depp’s lawyer, who accused her of creating a detailed hoax around the allegations of abuse. She was awarded $ 2 million.

Depp hoped the defamation lawsuit would help restore his reputation. However, legal and entertainment experts said the reputations of both actors were damaged by ugly details about their brief marriages that emerged during a televised trial that was watched by millions.

“Both will work again, but I think it will be a while before a major studio finds them ‘safe’ enough to bet,” said Matthew Belloni, a former entertainment lawyer who writes about the Hollywood business for a newsletter. Puck. . “The personal baggage that was found in this court was too unpleasant for the studio to want to deal with.”

The case captivated viewers who watched TV coverage from hammer to hammer, including passionate followers on social media who analyzed the manners of the actors, their wardrobe choices and alcohol and drug use.

Both performers have unclear career prospects. Depp, a three-time Oscar nominee for Best Actor, has been a prominent star until recent years, including playing Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean.” However, he lost this role and was replaced in the spin-off “Fantastic Monsters”.

Hurd’s acting career has been more modest, and her only two future roles are in the short film and sequel “Aquaman,” which is due out next year.

Eric Rose, a crisis management and communications expert from Los Angeles, called the lawsuit a “classic murder-suicide” in terms of harm to both quarries.

“In terms of reputation management, there can be no winners,” he said. “They bled each other. Now it’s getting harder for studios to hire any actor because you’re potentially alienating most of your audience, who may not like the fact that you’ve hired either Johnny or Amber for a particular project because the feelings are so strong now. “

Hurd, who was present at the trial on Wednesday and was stoic while reading the verdict, said she had a broken heart that she called a failure for women in general.

“I am even more disappointed with what this sentence means to other women. This is a failure. This goes back in time to the time when a woman who spoke out and spoke out could be publicly humiliated. This negates the idea that violence against women should be taken seriously, “she said in a statement posted on her Twitter account.

Depp, who was not in court on Wednesday, said “the jury brought me back to life. I’m really humiliated. “

“I hope that my desire to tell the truth has helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those who support them never give up,” he said in a statement posted on Instagram. .

Depp sued Hurd for libel in Fairfax County Court for an article in December 2018 that she wrote in The Washington Post, describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic violence.” His name was never mentioned in the essay.

The jury acknowledged in Depp’s favor all three of his claims concerning specific statements in the article.

Assessing Hurd’s counterclaims, the jury considered three statements by Depp’s lawyer, who called her allegations a hoax. They found that she had been slandered by one of them, in which the lawyer claimed that she and her friends “poured some wine and justified the place, found out their stories”, and called the police.

While the case was allegedly about defamation, most of the testimony focused on whether Hurd was subjected to physical and sexual abuse, as she claimed. Hurd listed more than a dozen alleged attacks, including a brawl in Australia – where Depp filmed a sequel to “Pirates of the Caribbean” in which Depp lost her middle fingertip, and Hurd said she was sexually assaulted with a bottle of alcohol.

Depp said he never beat Hurd and that she was an abuser, although Hurd’s lawyers highlighted years of text messages that Depp sent Hurd apologizing for his behavior, as well as obscene texts he sent to a friend in which Depp said he wanted to kill Hurd and defile her dead body.

Brett Ward, a family lawyer in New York, said Depp had become a more credible witness by admitting to drug and alcohol use, and that he could be a difficult person. But he said Depp also risked making those moments more memorable for the public than his work in film.

“He says he did it for his children. After reviewing the whole process, I don’t think he did any service to his children by releasing all this dirty linen into the air, ”Ward said in an interview.

“But, was it worth it for Johnny Depp, we’ll find out in five years when he will re-establish himself as a Hollywood actor on List A. And if not? I think he made a terrible mistake because most people won’t remember his pretty remarkable career in Hollywood. They will remember this court. “


Associated Press authors Lindsey Barr and John Carucci contributed to this report.

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