Jason Momoa and James Wan reportedly blocked efforts to cut Amber Heard out of Aquaman 2 – The A.V. Club

James Wan, Amber Heard, and Jason Momoa

James Wan, Amber Heard, and Jason Momoa
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images for CinemaCon

The Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial continues to skulk its way across the seafloor of the online subconscious this week, occasionally vomiting up some industry factoid or moment of strangeness that inevitably rises to the surface to be fitfully dissected and perused. Today, that bolus-hunt took the form of the testimony of “entertainment industry consultant” Kathryn Arnold (whose job mostly consists, it appears, of testifying about the industry in court cases such as this), who spoke to the effects that Heard and Depp’s divorce, and the subsequent, totally-non-cultish backlash against Heard that followed, affected her career.

Which was “significant,” in Arnold’s telling, most notably as it applied to Heard’s starring role in the Aquaman sub-franchise of Warner Bros. films. The Arnold testimony was interesting in so far as it apparently confirmed some of the stuff people have already inferred over the last few years, including the fact that Heard was deliberately left off of promo materials for the film’s sequel, banned from DC’s FanDome event, and was almost straight-up fired from the movie, despite being part of a previously billion-plus superhero blockbuster.

Per The Wrap, Arnold—who was called as a witness on Heard’s behalf, as she attempts to fend off Depp’s accusations of defamation over an op-ed she wrote about being a survivor of abuse from a few years back—noted that “research showed whenever Heard’s name was mentioned, whether in connection to a film, TV show, magazine article, or endorsement deal, there was immediate backlash from fans on social media.” (Readers at home can replicate this research by spending approximately four seconds on Twitter in 2022.) As such, Warner Bros. told Heard she was functionally disinvited from FanDome, the company’s now-annual celebration of its brands and various film properties.

Beyond that, the studio reportedly pushed to have her removed from Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom outright, only being stopped by a united front from co-star Jason Momoa and director James Wan. Per Arnold’s testimony, Wan and Momoa were both “committed to her” and were “adamant she was in the film.” Even so, Heard has testified that her part in the film was cut back, officially because of a supposed lack of chemistry with Momoa.

Arnold noted that Depp’s career has also been damaged by the public conflict between himself and Heard, although she also noted that the op-ed ostensibly at the heart of the entire matter was a non-impactful blip on Hollywood’s radar—until Depp issued his lawsuit over it, and turned it into the weeping PR ulcer it is today.

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