These days, Amber Heard is probably better known as Johnny Depp’s ex and for a highly publicized defamation trial where she was ordered to pay the actor $15 million. Before that whole thing, she was actually an actress sort of on the rise.
Her biggest role before the trial was in the DCEU tentpole film Aquaman, and she’ll be in the sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, although there’s word that her scenes have been cut following the backlash from the trial.
Regardless, she does have a resume of a number of films, some hits, some very much not that. Let’s take a look – from the worst to best.
Drive Angry (2011)
During most of the 2010s, Nicolas Cage seemed like he would do anything for a paycheck. Did it pay? He was there. Drive Angry is one of those movies. It was for some reason shot in 3D and it became the lowest grossing 3D movie ever released in more than 2,000 theaters.
That’s not what makes this thing memorable. Heard sure does try her best but she also botches a southern accent. She doesn’t hold back, however, and really gives the performance her all, even if it isn’t her best overall.
In the movie, Cage escapes from hell to kill a man named Jonah King, who murdered Cage’s daughter in the movie. Piper plays his sort of sidekick with a good car. At one point in the movie she gets beat up by a cheating boyfriend. Say what you will, she gives it her all.
At the end of the movie she becomes… a mother. It’s kind of entertaining in its silliness.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2013)
This 2006 film starred Heard as the titular character in a teen movie horror slasher film. It’s not a bad movie I mean it’s not great but it does work as a slasher. It was inspired by movies like The Virgin Suicides and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The movie was the first one directed by Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies) and it helped to jumpstart Heard’s career. It was made in the mid 2000s but didn’t get a wide release until 2013. Heard’s performance is a nuanced, psychologically interesting take and the supporting cast also works well.
Regardless of some horror movie tropes (like getting killed immediately after sex), the characters are surprisingly well-drawn out and the narrative is pretty unorthodox. For better or for worse, the killer’s identity is revealed halfway through.
There’s also enough gore, sex and nudity to keep the average horror fan entertained.
The Joneses (2009)
This Demi Moore/David Duchovny vehicle stars Amber Heard as the daughter Jenn of a fake family that just exists to sell people things. It’s supposed to be a commentary on American consumerism but it’s also an interesting time capsule from the end of the aughts.
This was one of those weird movies that critics liked more than the audience, but it’s clever and has a lot of moving parts. Heard played a super popular high school student (she was 23 at the time) and her job is to basically look good and be okay at acting.
She nails both of these things and Moore and Duchovny also turn in some strong performances. She does a lot with what she’s given (a Heard trademark) in the scenes she appears in and the film was another notch on her then rising career.
The Ward (2010)
This movie continued Heard’s rise through the ranks of actresses as she headlines this psychological, supernatural horror movie. It also has the distinction of being the last film by horror auteur John Carpenter.
In the film, Heard plays a teen who’s set a barn on fire and ends up in a psychiatric ward. There’s a ghost on the loose and a lot of teens running wild. It’s fairly predictable fare for a movie that came out in 2010, but it feels like a throwback to a ’70s cult classic.
Unfortunately, it lacks the imagination of Carpenter’s more popular films, but Heard turns in a passable performance as the lead. The problem is it’s just not that scary. The only thing the movie has going for itself, besides Heard, is the fact that Carpenter directed it.
Completists will enjoy it, for the rest of us it’s an interesting curiosity from a famous director who’s lost his way. But Heard isn’t bad in it.
This blockbuster DCEU movie was the culmination of Heard’s career so far. All of those roles in little movies, incrementally getting her name out there one movie at a time – this was the zenith. She plays Mera, real name Y’Mera Xebella Challa.
She’s a princess in the fictional underwater lair of Xebel and she’s also Aquaman’s love interest. This movie came out and Heard’s career was about to hit the stratosphere, except it didn’t. To piggyback on the success of the movie, Heard wrote an Op-ed in The Washington Post that would eventually be the catalyst for the wildly publicized trial with Depp.
As for her performance, reviews were fairly mixed. That means some people loved it and some people didn’t. Honestly it didn’t matter this movie was too big to fail. The writing and the dialogue hold some of the blame as well.
Heard is no Nicole Kidman but she turns in a good performance and makes the most out of what she has. She doesn’t have much to work with, unfortunately.
3 Days To Kill (2014)
Say what you will about Heard’s acting ability, she really is a beautiful woman. That was never more apparent than in the movie 3 Days To Kill. She’s stunning in platinum blond do and also incredibly striking.
Heard plays supporting character to Academy Award winner Kevin Costner as a CIA agent who’s trying to give up the life and be a family man. There are the requisite explosions, gunfights and more explosions.
Costner has to complete one final mission, given to him by Heard’s character Vivi, and if he’s successful he’ll get an experimental but potentially life saving drug. Heard’s performance is fairly even and fun, and she definitely holds her own with the screen legend.
It’s not the best movie you’re ever going to see, but it does have enough action to justify its own existence.
The Rum Diary (2011)
The weirdest thing about this movie now is that it’s the movie where Depp and Heard fell in love and got married. They have a sparkling chemistry that crackles off the screen. The Rum Diary was a passion project for Depp.
He’s been fairly vocal about his love for gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who wrote the source material. The movie didn’t make back it’s budget but the book is kind of rambling and all over the place (it was written by a pre-fame Thompson) and the film doesn’t do a great job of focusing the script.
Here’s some weird ‘what could have been’ trivia: both Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley were reportedly interested in the role, but there was some reservations about the nudity required in the film.
I bet if the actors could go back in time they would not fall for each other, but maybe it was destiny. Not a great destiny, as everyone pretty much turned on Heard during the trial, but destiny nonetheless.
Heard has a small but super fun role in this movie. She also got to flex a little and kind of play with the idea that she only gets cast as the hot girl. Believe it or not, this is some of Heard’s best acting.
She’s physical, intimidating and a lot of fun as someone trying to eat and turn Jesse Eisenberg into a zombie. There’s some real tension in the scene as well. In an interview with Maximo TV, she explained how difficult it was to act in the prosthetics.
“It was really hard. The director called me and said, ‘Do you want to be a disgusting zombie? I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Can we make you a really disgusting, ugly, horrible zombie?’ I was like, ‘Well, you know, I have a feeling I’m not going to be asked this too much more in my future, so I should go for it when I have the chance. I did and it was difficult. Three and a half hours of hair and makeup, prosthetic makeup, body makeup, and then two-and-a-half to get it off. So, I had contacts and black paint on my teeth and it was quite a commitment physically, too. It was much harder being a zombie than it is to walk in these heels, believe it or not.”
She absolutely nails it. This performance shows the type of promise that Heard has always had as an actress, and why she rose through the ranks as a leading lady. It’s also her weirdest role.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
Ah the Snyder cut. It’s over four hours long and it features stuff that just wasn’t in the original Joss Whedon take. Which means there’s also more Heard as Mera in the movie. Hollywood is a fickle place, but a superhero movie is not a bad bet.
She caught a lot of flack for being in the movie because this was around the time when people turned on her. Throughout it all she’s kept her head up and seemed proud of the fact that she was in the movie.
The movie changed her backstory and but she pulls off a good performance that’s somehow fun and weighty. Also she has a British accent for some reason.
There you have it. Heard’s best movies.