Say what you want about what Johnny Depp is and isn’t, but one thing he’s never been averse to is a completely unnecessary sequel or remake. After all, this is the star of no less than five Pirates of the Caribbean episodes, each a little worse than the one before.
And then there’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, Murder on the Orient Express and The Lone Ranger. It usually seems like Depp will deliver if Depp thinks the public could use seeing the same thing again, just his way. And then deliver again.
Two years ago, Depp and his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, became involved in an extraordinarily high-profile, 16-day defamation trial in the High Court in London.
Fans rallied, dirty laundry was aired and finally Mr Justice Nicol’s 129-page verdict was described The sun Headline labeling him a “wife beater” as “essentially true”.
Depp had lost and that could have been the end – maybe should have been. But this is Johnny Depp, the star of Sherlock dwarves. He doesn’t know when to stop and now he felt he was being treated unfairly.
Of course he would order a sequel. Of course it would be more expensive. Of course, people would wonder why he bothers.
Depp v Heard 2: This Time It’s Televised, which opened this week, takes place in Virginia and mainly concerns an article Heard wrote for the Washington Post in 2018, in which she stated she had “become a public figure who represents domestic violence.” Depp wasn’t credited by name, but for him the damage was done.
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He is suing for $50 million (€46 million); She’s suing for $100 million.
“The comment’s clear implication that Mr. Depp is a domestic abuser is categorically and demonstrably false,” his attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. “Her allegations … are part of an elaborate hoax designed to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career.”
And so Depp (58) is back in court this week, back in his dark, boxy three-piece suits, with long hair and plenty of jewellery. Of his 30 or so tattoos, only those on his hands were visible.
One once read SLIM across his knuckles – his nickname for Heard when they were married. He later changed it to SCUM. Then he added a red anarchy symbol to the middle finger: SCAM.
Yesterday one of Depp’s older sisters (he is the youngest of four siblings) took a stand. Christi Dembrowski (61) was called by her brother’s lawyer to testify.
She told the court about her difficult childhood in Kentucky with her “kind, patient, loving, gentle” father, John, and her “nervous, very nervous, anxious, angry” mother, Betty Sue.
When asked if Betty Sue would ever get mad at John, Ms Dembrowski, who has acted as her brother’s personal manager, said yes. “Mom would yell, yell at him, she would hit him, call him names, that kind of thing.” Betty Sue would also “yell, yell and hit him,” she claimed, and verbally abuse them. She reportedly nicknamed Depp “One Eye” since he once had a lazy eye.
Ms Dembrowski went on to say she was “devastated” when her brother announced he was marrying Heard. The couple would fight incessantly, she said, and Heard, now 35, would insult him.
She shared a story about how Depp was offered a partnership with Christian Dior. “It’s about class and style, and you don’t have style,” she recalled of Heard’s words. “An old, fat man” is an insult, said Ms. Dembrowski.
The point of Ms. Dembrowski’s testimony is probably that Depp’s disbelief has some basis: “Since I was raised by an abusive woman, how can I be the perpetrator?”
He, his devoted “Depphead” fans, and his many Hollywood friends insist he was only guilty of poor judgment when he fell in love with Heard on the set in 2011 The Rum Diaries, which means he has no choice but to try to clear his name — no matter how embarrassing it is personally. Then, and only then, can he have his life and once brilliant career back.
At least that’s the theory. But for many industry observers, this ship was sailing as fast and menacingly as the Black Pearl in one of those many, many pirate movies at least two years ago. It may have sunk forever.
“I don’t see how he can ever come back to the US now,” says Robbie Collin Daily Telegraphis the most important film critic. “After losing his case in London, how can you put the guy in a family movie?”
The boycott has already taken place. In 2020, following the High Court fight, Depp left his role as dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the JK Rowling script Fantastic Beasts Franchise.
Although Mads Mikkelsen took on the role, it was reported that a contract clause meant Depp still received his $16 million salary.
“Once domestic violence is on record and has become so public, I don’t see how you can break away from it,” says Collin.
“It happened in music, but this is different. In the film you have to play with the fantasy that this person is someone else, so it becomes more difficult when they elevate this personal life.”
“To me, [this second trial] It’s about equally disabling Amber Heard rather than rehabilitating himself and getting back to a career he didn’t seem all that interested in lately. It’s about saying, ‘If my career is in the ditch, you come down with me.'”
A look at Depp’s filmography over the past five years supports the idea that he’s persona non grata.
After starring in the first Pirates film in 2003, he became arguably the biggest movie star alive – a spirited, relentlessly watchable actor who finally found a mainstream vehicle that could capitalize on the weird, offbeat style and darkness that brought him iconic Indies served so well .
In recent years, Collin says, it’s all been small, relatively unsuccessful films in which Depp “never once looked like he enjoyed acting.”
Hardcore fans still check them out – indeed one, Minamatatook third place in this year’s Oscars Fan Favorite competition — but big studios and directors won’t be touching it.
Some problem stars, like Mel Gibson, can make carefully managed comebacks based on roles involving “demons.” But it’s hard to imagine what Depp can do to redeem his image. If Will Smith’s mainstream career was jeopardized thanks to a slap in the face, Depps has a point to give.
The exception perhaps is Dior, who kept their faith in him and clearly didn’t see him as old or fat and instead paid him millions to be the face of their Sauvage aftershave.
The French luxury brand reportedly saw sales surge from Sauvage during the latest attempt. “Fearless… and humane,” Depp says in an ad while striding across a barren landscape with some wolves, having just strummed his electric guitar. “A powerful fragrance with a lavish and captivating trail,” reads the accompanying Dior caption, “embodied by Johnny Depp.”
But they are more forgiving of a touch of personal indiscretion in France than in the US or Britain.
Depp has two children with French model Vanessa Paradis and has spent a lot of time there, but it doesn’t seem likely that he would spend his years making films on the continent. Not least because he hardly speaks any other language.
In the 1990s, Depp’s performances were in Edward with the scissor hands, What does Gilbert Grape eat?, Ed Wood, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Donnie Brasco made him one of the most interesting young actors in years – a leading man who wasn’t macho.
He was beautiful and a hellraiser with tales of binge drinking and drug abuse and famous girlfriends including Kate Moss and Winona Ryder.
Those who met him in his early years remember him as “very sensitive, gentle, funny, poetic, humble, suave, very articulate about Hollywood and celebrity and all the shit that goes with it.” But, they add, “also significantly damaged.”
He originally wanted to be a musician and now has a band, Hollywood Vampires, featuring two of his heroes, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry.
As the years passed, the qualities that had once made him so captivating seemed to fade. Instead of a bad boy, middle-aged excesses took on a sad quality.
The acting went from intriguing to telephonic. In Collins’ estimation, Johnny Depp’s last major appearance was in public enemies. That was published 13 years ago.
The world will watch what happens in this Virginia courtroom. But it doesn’t really matter if Depp’s sequel can tell a different story — the ending stays the same.
His next and only film shown is French and still untitled. He plays Louis XV, the king who reigned for 59 years. Loved in his youth, he could not keep it up. He died unpopular, paranoid and accused of debauchery.
Depp should bring something to it.
https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-features/as-bitter-battle-plays-out-in-court-whats-really-driving-johnny-depp-41556752.html What’s really driving Johnny Depp as a bitter battle unfolds in court?