“Aquaman” should have been Amber Heard’s breakout role — but instead, the actress’s career took a downturn, leading her to lose around $50 million in potential earnings, an expert tested Monday.
Entertainment industry consultant Kathryn Arnold said Heard, 36, was only kept on for the superhero flick’s upcoming sequel thanks in part to her co-star Jason Momoa.
The release of the 2018 blockbuster was supposed to be Heard’s “’A Star is Born’ moment,” Arnold, a former Hollywood producer, told the Fairfax, Virginia, jury.
But Heard’s trajectory to stardom was marred after her ex-husband Johnny Depp and his lawyer Adam Waldman allegedly defamed her by calling her accusations of abuse a “hoax,” according to Arnold’s testimony.
“It was that moment where not only was she a good actor, but she was now world-renowned because she was in the most successful movie … for DC Comics,” Arnold said about “Aquaman,” which grossed more than $1.1 billion at the box office.
“It was just this extraordinary moment for her, for her career to take off.”
What happened next was more like a crash landing, the consultant said.
Heard, 36, lost between $45-50 million in potential earnings following the 2020 statements that she had fabricated domestic abuse, Arnold claimed.
Had Depp and his team not allegedly made those statements, Heard’s career might now mirror those of “Wonder Woman” Gal Gadot and “Bond” girl Ana de Armas, she added.
The likely actress would have received four other endorsement deals worth $8 million, $20 million from various films projects, and millions from TV projects, the consultant said.
Now, “every time she appears anywhere, the social media negativity campaign starts up again,” said Arnold, who was called as a witness by Heard’s legal team.
Heard was excluded from major press events and promotional material for “Aquaman” — and L’Oreal put a pause on working with her, the witness said.
“Her work stopped,” Arnold said, adding that rather than having negotiating power for the upcoming “Aquaman 2,” Heard was “fighting for her life” for the role’s reprisal.
The only reason she wasn’t fully cut from the blockbuster, set to premiere in 2023, was because co-star Jason Momoa and the film’s director James Wan were “adamant” she keep the role and personally advocated for her, Arnold said.
As for Depp — who sued Heard for $50 million claiming her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about being a victim of domestic abuse defamed him and ruined his career — Arnold said the actor is his own worst enemy.
“Well, we’ve talked about the erratic behavior, the tardiness, the drugs and alcohol abuse,” said Arnold. “And the arguments have had a really big impact … because there’s a lot of publicity around anything that he does.”
Every time Depp has filed a lawsuit, it has “brought to light various issues,” she tested. “Whether it was about, you know, erratic behavior or domestic abuse or drugs and alcohol and even spending habits.”
“So every time a lawsuit has been filed, the press and publicity has just been charged up and everything back to light,” Arnold continued, “and it’s been an unfortunate problem … for the industry to continue to work with him even though all this is out in the public.”
Arnold was one of three witnesses called to the stand by Heard’s team on Monday. Depp and Kate Moss are expected to testify Wednesday.