'Aquaman' Director Didn't Reduce Amber Heard's Role Due to Johnny Depp

Aquaman Director James Wan Denies Changing Amber Heards Role After Johnny Depp Defamation Trial

(L-R) Director James Wan, actors Amber Heard and Jason Momoa attend CinemaCon on April 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for CinemaCon

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom director James Wan shut down Amber Heard’s claim that her part in the sequel was reduced due to her defamation trial with ex Johnny Depp

Wan, 46, explained that Heard’s character of Mera — who is the paramour of Aquaman (Jason Momoa) –  was not cut out because of her personal life but because the movie was always meant to shift focus to supervillain Orm (Patrick Wilson). 

“I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go. The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera’s journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm,” Wan, who also directed 2018’s Aquaman, told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published on Wednesday, September 13. “The first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie. We’ll leave it at that.”

Heard claimed in May 2022 that her future with the DC franchise was in jeopardy as a result of a messy court battle with ex-husband Depp, 60. “They released me from my contract. And I fought to stay in it, and they kept me in it. I just don’t know how much I’m in, actually, of the final cut,” she alleged during her defamation trial. “I don’t know if I will even be in the final cut or how much I will be. It was difficult to stay in the movie.”

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Heard and Depp’s defamation trial was instigated by Depp over a 2018 Washington Post article written by Heard about her alleged experiences as a domestic abuse survivor. The judge ruled in favor of Depp in June 2022 and Heard was ordered to pay him $15 million in damages, which was reduced to the amount of $10.35 million due to a Virginia law cap on punitive damage Heard, meanwhile, won one of her three defamation counterclaims and was awarded $2 million in damages. 

Later that month, reports surfaced that Heard’s role had been completely cut from the sequel. Heard later released a statement dispelling the rumors, telling Us Weekly, “The rumor mill continues as it has from day one — inaccurate, insensitive and slightly insane.”

Aquaman Director James Wan Denies Changing Amber Heards Role After Johnny Depp Defamation Trial

Amber Heard in ‘Auquaman.’
Cover Images

The film’s trailer — which was exclusively presented to CinemaCon audience members in April — reportedly showed that Heard in fact “does have a cameo” in the trailer but “in a battle scene,” according to Deadline.

Heard’s role is not the only conflict that’s caused Aquaman 2 to make headlines since the movie’s announcement in 2021. After being delayed in tally for COVID-19-related issues, The Hollywood Reporter published an article in July that claimed Wan had overseen three rounds of reshoots due to DC’s new creative director, James Gunn, making changes in the Warner Bros. release slate — and rumors Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck would both make appearances as Batman. 

Wan noted to EW on Wednesday that while he doesn’t dispute THR’s claims that Gunn “weighed in” on the Aquaman sequel, the end product is very much his vision – and reshoots are par for the course. 

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“We have big actors in this movie, and everyone’s schedule is really hard,” Wan explained. “So, we had to break up our shooting schedule into sections. We’ll shoot a bit here now, because this actor’s available, and then we’ll do another shoot now, because this guy’s available. People are like, ‘Oh, they’re doing a whole bunch of different shoots!’ No. If we actually combined them all together, it’s actually not that many number of days at all.”

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