Yesterday’s ruling by the High Court looks set to have major ramifications for Johnny Depp. The judge found that twelve out of fourteen of Amber Heard’s allegations of assault could be proved to the civil standard and that The Sun newspaper was not being libellous when it referred to him as a “wife beater.” Depp’s legal team – who said the judgment was “as perverse as it is bewildering” – has confirmed that he plans to appeal, but right now things are looking pretty dire for him.
So, what impact could this have on his career? Well, celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev spoke to Reuters and said: “I think this is the final nail in the coffin of Johnny Depp’s brand. The verdict does not align with that image.” Meanwhile, Disney has been refusing to respond to queries about the actor’s future with the company, with his participation in a new Pirates of the Caribbean film now in doubt.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Matthew Belloni, the former editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter, thinks this judgment doesn’t contain much that’s new and any damage to his reputation may have already been done. He said: “There is a sense in Hollywood that Johnny Depp is a tainted brand, and his dominance of the box office in the 2000s has come to an end.”
This doesn’t mean it’s the end, though. Belloni explained: “He’s always going to work if he wants to because he is a talented actor and there will be smaller films that will cast him. If one of those became a major hit, he may be back.” He went on to give the example of Robert Downey Jr.’s career resurrection in Iron Man, which came after the star was essentially uninsurable after serving a year in prison for drug offences.
Judging by the response so far, the actor’s legions of passionate fans aren’t giving up on him no matter what any judge rules, so it’s clear that he’s going to have a career of some kind for the foreseeable future. Still, I think it’s likely that Johnny Depp has hung up his pirate hat for the last time and Warner Bros. may well be minimizing his role in Fantastic Beasts 3. Shooting on that began in October, so perhaps we’ll get a hint as to how major studios are reacting to the news very soon.