Studio Head Says You Can’t Work With Johnny Depp Anymore
We’re now over a month out from Johnny Depp‘s high profile libel defeat and it’s set to have a major effect on his career. The judge concluded that The Sun newspaper was not being libellous when it referred to him as a “wife beater,” a decision that Depp’s legal team dubbed “as perverse as it is bewildering.” He’s since lodged an appeal, but already has taken some hard knocks.
Warner Bros. booted him off Fantastic Beasts 3, his film Minamata was removed from festival schedules, and he lost out on the lead role in a Harry Houdini TV project. But now, The Hollywood Reporter has published a bombshell article interviewing several industry insiders who agree that the actor is effectively unemployable at this point.
One studio head, who remains unnamed, said the following about Depp:
“You simply can’t work with him now. He’s radioactive.”
Another, meanwhile, called him “a huge liability,” adding that “the discovery that came out in that trial alone would be enough to scare any studio.”
The article goes on to lay out that Depp’s current predicament isn’t simply a result of his court loss. The actor has repeatedly disrupted expensive shoots, made extravagant demands of his employers and displayed an increasingly litigious streak if he doesn’t get his way. All that’s possible for a studio to absorb if his blockbuster movies are pulling in billion-dollar grosses, but now that his stardom is faltering, that house of cards has begun to fall.
THR also spoke to Hollywood PR crisis management experts, who said:
“Johnny Depp is a worst-case scenario for handling bad PR. I use him as the model for telling my clients what not to do. It’s not a case of shooting himself in the foot. He shot himself in the face.”
But PR expert Eric Schiffer had a slightly more hopeful perspective, explaining:
“He has suffered immense reputational carnage from a reckless set of choices that has left him in septic muck. Can he come out of that? It really comes down to Johnny’s choices. He still has a fan base that in many ways is like Donald Trump’s with their emotional intensity and commitment to a star icon. It’s not based around principles. It’s about charisma and their identification of the range of characters that he’s played.”
I’m not sure that being compared to Donald Trump is Depp’s ideal situation, but it’s undeniable that there are many fans who will forgive him for any sin. I doubt his career will end, but his days of being the main attraction in tentpole blockbusters are sailing off into the sunset.
Going forward, I’d expect to see Johnny Depp taking roles in either smaller domestic films or Chinese/Russian funded productions, if only because he’s got bills to pay and a lot of outgoing expenses. Either way, the 2020s looks set to be a difficult decade for the fallen prince of Hollywood.