Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: The Battle for Image Recovery

After an explosive six-week libel trial followed by millions of people on social media and live, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard face a tough battle: trying to rebuild their images and careers.

Depp already has a head start: on Wednesday, a jury handed down a verdict largely in favor of his story that his ex-wife slandered him, accusing him of abusing her.

“Depot has a hill to climb. Hurd needs to climb the mountain, ”said Eric Desenhall, who mitigated the effects of the crisis in Washington, which was not involved. “If Depp keeps his expectations proportionate and realizes he’s unlikely to reach his former heights, he could have a solid career if he takes things slowly. After all, he was acquitted in court, not recognized as a saint.

Dessenhall said Hurd’s problem is that, rightly or wrongly, some believe she abused and may even have tarnished the decent #MeToo movement.

The verdict in Fairfax County, Virginia, revealed that Depp was disgraced by three statements in a 2018 article written by Hurd who identified herself as a person. victim of violence. The jury awarded the Pirates of the Caribbean star more than $ 10 million. The jury also concluded that Hurd was slandered by Depp’s lawyer, who accused her of creating a hoax around the allegations of abuse. She was awarded $ 2 million.

Given that such cases are known to be difficult to win, was the path to slander right? Some high-profile observers believe Depp’s decision to sue – even if it meant dragging his and Hurd’s privacy through the mud – was a last-ditch attempt to bolster his stellar strength after his failed London libel lawsuit against The Sun for describing it as a “wife beater.”

“I think the defamation case was‘ Hail Mary, ’” said David Glass, a family law attorney from Los Angeles with a doctorate in psychology.

Married for only 15 months, Depp sued Hurd for $ 50 million for an article for The Washington Post in which she called herself a “public figure representing domestic violence.” She did not identify Depp by name, and it was published two years after she began publicly accusing him.

Hurd filed a counterclaim for $ 100 million, accusing the star of slandering her through the accusations of attorney Adam Waldman. Many of the consequences of the lawsuit focused on the consequences of both claims, with Depp testifying, “I lost at least,” and Hurd accused him of trying to erase her ability to work.

“Now that I’m standing here today, I can’t make a career out of it,” Hurd testified at the end of the trial. “I hope to get my vote back. That’s all I want. “

But does the verdict have any right to overturn the charges in the courtroom: Depp as physical and sexual assault, senile drunk and drug addict, and Hurd as clumsy and capable of mimicking bruises allegedly inflicted by a man she said was left without love?

Despite everything, Depp’s supporters remain strong. Fans often flocked to the camp at night to get a chance to attend the process. But unlike rockers and stand-up comedians caught in the #MeToo moments who can still make money from live performances, Depp and Hurd need studio cars that are not prone to the crisis to make big money.

Rehabilitation is necessary for both, be it a duel with traditional sitting interviews or another secret weapon in their arsenal of PR teams.

Hurd, who was in the courtroom on Wednesday, plans to file an appeal. Depp, who was not in court, said: “Fats brought me back to life. I’m really humiliated. ”

Danny Derani, who has been doing crisis PR for some Hollywood #MeToo prosecutors, said men are generally more likely than women to find new jobs in the entertainment industry “when it comes to forgiveness and what they’ve done.”

He added: “I think Johnny will be easier. For Amber, whether she’s innocent or guilty, or whatever, it’s going to be hard. I don’t think her career is necessarily over. But I’m sure it will have a good hit because I think now everyone will look at her as a woman who is hard to work with, see her emotions as they were, wrong or right. I think they’ll look at it and say, “Do we want this on our set?”

Daniel Lindemann, an associate professor of sociology at Lehigh University who studies gender, sexuality and culture, said Depp’s ability to earn big money has already suffered from his own self-destruction or because of Hurd’s accusations.

“But I don’t think it’s ‘canceled,'” said Lindeman, author of True History: What Reality Tells Us.

The damage to his career is also likely to be much less severe in Asian and European markets, where his popularity remains strong. And he will probably still be working on indie products similar to the ones that helped him over the 38-year period.

Ever since the former couple began to make accusations, Hurd has faced a stormy reaction on social media. She said Depp had launched a campaign to fire her as L’Oreal’s ambassador and remove Mary’s character from the Aquaman sequel, although the production manager testified that she remains in the film, which is due out next year.

Mads Mickelsen replaced Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in “Fantastic Monsters 3”. Depp’s future is also uncertain in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which he blamed on Hurd’s accusations. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has revealed that two more Pirates scripts are in development, but none will include Depp Captain Jack Sparrow, a role that earned the actor an Oscar nomination. His last appearance in a Disney-owned franchise was in 2017. “Dead People Don’t Tell Tales”.

Dior has long used Depp to promote the masculine fragrance of Sauvage. The fashion house has been silent on allegations of abuse and continues to use it in advertising.

Lawyer Brett Ward, a family law specialist in New York, said it could take years to find out if Depp’s case will lead him to return to the cast.

“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 judgment. It’s like OJ Simpson. People know him better by what happened in that court than by his football career. “

Dessenhall disagreed. He said the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, could simply be a signal to people and corporations facing an existential threat to their reputation and livelihood. The old logic that filing a defamation lawsuit is more risky than any benefits no longer applies, he said. They are too hard to defeat because proving anger is so hard, traditional thinking is gone. Why publicly recycle the negative when people are likely to forget?

Today, he said, the stakes have become too high to avoid such defamation lawsuits. He wrote on Substack: “If you’re already covered in dirt that is suspended online forever, what’s a little more if your life has been ruined?”


Associated Press writers Alicia Ransilia and John Carucci contributed to this story.


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