Walter Hamada, the Warner Bros. executive who is the boss of the company’s DC studio division, is testifying in an ongoing trial of dueling defamation lawsuits that Aquaman star Amber Heard lacked chemistry with co-star Jason Momoa, which was one reason why they considered recasting her for the sequel at one point, and not because of anything Johnny Depp‘s team said about her.
In a pre-recorded deposition, Hamada said Heard was not released or fired from her Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom contract, nor was she given a pay increase for the sequel.
Hamada explained the reason for the lack of pay increase originated from a studio philosophy, in general, to not renegotiate every deal they had with actors from one movie to the next.
Hamada also indicated Heard’s role had not been diminished from what it was in the original script of Aquaman 2.
When asked whether Heard’s compensation was affected by anything someone representing Depp said to the press, such as his former lawyer Adam Waldman, Hamada said “No.”
Hamada also seemed to indicate any times the studio considered recasting Heard stemmed from her perceived lack of chemistry with co-star Momoa.
“You know it when you see it, and the chemistry just wasn’t there,” Hamada explained regarding the topic of lack of chemistry between Heard and Momoa.
That is a testimony that somewhat contradicts Heard’s own account, in which she stated she had to “fight” to stay in the sequel and that her role as Mera was noticeably cut down due to the controversy involving Depp, as Deadline noted.
On Thursday, Heard’s team brought an entertainment consultant to testify that Heard faced professional repercussions from Depp suing her, including compensation below what could be expected from a similarly situated celebrity whose star was on the rise and being told to not participate in promotional events for films, including for Aquaman.
As for Depp, he was fired from WB’s Fantastic Beasts franchise following Heard’s accusations of domestic abuse, being replaced by Mads Mikkelsen for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
Hamada himself has been a subject of controversy, being accused by Justice League actor Ray Fisher of enabling abusive behavior from director Joss Whedon during reshoots of the 2017 version of the film and mishandling people coming forward with the accusations when they surfaced.
The court battle, unfolding in a courtroom in Fairfax, Virginia, centers on an op-ed Heard wrote for the Washington Post in 2018, in which she describes herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though Depp isn’t named in the article, Heard made prior allegations of abuse against Depp in 2016, which he claims are false and are referenced in the piece.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million for defamation for allegedly false domestic abuse accusations she made against him that he said hurt his career. Heard is counter-suing Depp, also for defamation, for $100 million.
While Heard maintains she was abused by Depp, Depp claims just the opposite: he was abused by her and not the other way around.