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After Johnny Depp’s victory over his ex-wife Amber Heard in US court on Wednesday, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star could relaunch his acting career. But it seems unlikely that he will quickly become the darling of Hollywood studios again.
Victorious in court, and soon back on the big screen? After coming out on top, Wednesday 1er June, of his trial with his ex-wife Amber Heard, Johnny Depp could revive his acting career.
“The jury brought me back to life,” exulted Johnny Depp after the verdict which awarded him $ 15 million in damages for defamatory remarks made by Amber Heard. His ex-wife, who was counter-suing in the same lawsuit in Virginia, only got $2 million – for defamation too.
Experts have claimed on the stand that Johnny Depp suffered, following the statements of Amber Heard, a shortfall of more than 22 million dollars by losing his role in the sixth installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean” – including he portrayed the character Jack Sparrow.
The lawyers for his ex-wife, however, produced witnesses assuring that the star of her ex-husband had already faded long before that due to “unprofessional behavior”, linked in particular to his consumption of alcohol and narcotics.
“The damage is done, and from there could begin a process of returning to some normality,” said a Hollywood producer who has worked with Johnny Depp in the past.
“But I don’t think he’s going to have very, very big studio contracts, with everything at stake,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity. “If he’s throwing bottles and taking drugs, he’s not on time, they’re not going to accept delays that cost such a lot of money from someone whose star is no longer in the firmament”, analyzes this producer.
According to him, the major studios could in particular experience difficulties in ensuring expensive productions in which Johnny Depp would appear. “Now it’s too risky to take a guy like this in billion-dollar franchises,” he said.
Between “bad boy” and “very good at the box office”
And while Virginia jurors and social media fans sided with the actor during the trial, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever be able to win over viewers, especially female audiences, again. “Some of the things he said are despicable”, launched the producer, referring to certain SMS quoted during the trial in which Johnny Depp called his ex-wife a “stupid cow” or evoked his “rotting corpse”.
Even if the cases are not comparable, other big names in Hollywood have made a comeback after devastating controversies for their careers, such as Mel Gibson or Robert Downey Jr.
“I think some studios will be willing to work with him from now on,” said Karen North, a professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in reputation management. Despite a recent series of fiascos, “he has almost always been very good at the box office”, she judges, noting that Johnny Depp has benefited from strong public exposure with this ultra-high-profile trial.
Sure, a celebrity with a sober and polished image would struggle to recover from such tales of drunkenness and drug use, but Johnny Depp “never pretended to be a nice, well-behaved little guy.” “If someone has a bad boy side and they are accused of excesses like this, people are going to say ‘well, that doesn’t surprise me, it doesn’t change my idea of this nobody'”, explains Karen North.
“Personally, I think Johnny Depp will be able to come back, it seems logical.”
Johnny Depp in a French film to embody Louis XV
If the actor returns to the cinema, he could also decide not to go through the Hollywood box. “He could become a darling of independent cinema, where filming lasts six to eight weeks and fees are $250,000, with 25% of film rights,” says the producer who worked with him.
>> To see: Johnny Depp: “I will always feel at home in France”
“He could even get a nomination for a great little role (…) and wow people with a crazy performance,” he imagines.
What else ? “He’s going to work in Europe. I mean, they don’t bother with that kind of stuff there,” says the producer, for whom Johnny Depp will probably “make French or German films”.
The 58-year-old actor should, in fact, appear in a French film by director Maïwenn, “Jeanne du Barry”. In this feature film still in the pre-production phase, Johnny Depp will play King Louis XV.