Triumphant in Court, But Fading Career: Johnny Depp’s Ongoing Journey.

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After a weeks-long trial in Fairfax Country, Virginia, in June 2022, a jury found that Amber Heard defamed her ex-husband, Edward Scissorhands (1990) star Johnny Depp. Depp sued the Aquaman (2018) actress in 2019 after she published an Op-Ed in The Washington Post, identifying herself as a victim of domestic abuse. Depp wasn’t named in the essay, but lawyers argued that the allegations damaged his career for several years, losing him acting gigs like the role of Captain Jack Sparrow in the unreleased Pirates of the Caribbean 6.

Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling initially stood with Depp, allowing him to reprise his role as Grindelwald in the second Fantastic Beasts film. Per Variety, they asked him to resign a month into the production of the third series installment, soon after Depp lost his 2020 libel trial against the U.K. Sun. A judge found that, based on Heard’s testimony, the newspaper’s claim that the Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) star was a “wife beater” was “substantially true.”

Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in the rally in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'
Credit: Warner Bros.

It’s been a year and a half since the verdict, but public opinion on the settled legal situation is more split than ever. In November 2022, hundreds of women’s rights organizations signed a letter expressing support for Heard, including the founder of the Women’s March. Inside the Magic reported what some former fans called a “downfall,” as reports alleged he was unwell. Depp’s career turned from Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka to roles like King Louis XV in the French film Jeanne du Barry (2023).

Still, Depp has a strong fanbase keeping up with his latest projects. Tim Burton, who has cast Depp in numerous movies like Ed Wood (1994) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), has publicly stood with his longtime friend. The legendary director said he would happily work with Depp again, telling Deadline that the pair have a “special connection.”

So, what has Johnny Depp been up to?

The Defamation Trial Between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Screenshots via Court TV

The jury trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard began in the Fairfax County Circuit Court on April 11, 2022. Millions watched live for nearly two months until the jury reached a verdict on June 1, 2022. They found that Heard’s domestic violence Op-Ed defamed Depp with the following three statements:

“I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”

“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

“I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages out of the $50 million he requested and $5 million in punitive damages.

Credit: Prosecco Milani Cosmetics

In Heard’s counterclaim against Depp, the jury found that Depp’s attorney, Adam Waldman, defamed her. She was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages out of the $100 million requested and no punitive damage.

The legal battle didn’t end there. Both parties tried to appeal the verdicts against them until settling in December 2022. Depp’s lawyers, Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez, announced that Heard agreed to pay her ex-husband $1 million.

Johnny Depp’s Acting Career

Credit: Why Not Productions

The Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee’s career took a different path after the defamation trial. Beyond his role in Jeanne du Barry, he’s stayed behind the camera. For the first time since 1997, Depp will direct Modi, a biopic starring Al Pacino.

Depp’s next acting role is also offscreen, voicing the main character in the 2024 animated film Johnny Puff: Secret Mission. 

Music and More

Was it Depp’s choice to step offscreen? Whether forced by studios or his own volition, the actor has leaned into different art forms in recent years.

Credit: Hollywood Vampires

Depp is no stranger to the music business. After the defamation trial, he toured the U.K. and North America with musician Jeff Beck. He’s also active in the rock band Hollywood Vampires alongside Alice Cooper and Joe Perry.

The Sleepy Hollow (1999) star dipped his toes into visual art with his first-ever pop art collection in 2022. It sold out in just a few hours, making Depp $3 million.

Despite immense backlash, Depp also returned to modeling in 2022. For the first time since the U.K. libel trial, he appeared as the face of Sauvage, Dior’s signature scent.

It’s impossible to predict Johnny Depp’s future in the public eye. Still, it’s undoubtedly clear that his trial against Amber Heard changed his career track forever, catapulting him into an array of creative projects that leave fans wondering what’s next.

Have you watched or listened to any new Johnny Depp projects? In the comments, share your thoughts on the star’s career trajectory with Inside the Magic. 

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