Why Amber Heard is Still in Aquaman 2

Aquaman star Amber Heard was in a bitter feud with her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. First, they filed for divorce in 2016, then Depp unsuccessfully sued a British newspaper and its executive editor over a 2018 article in which he is labeled a “wife beater.” Finally, Depp sued Heard, and the trial already concluded in Fairfax, Virginia.

Aquaman Amber Heard
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Credit: Warner Bros.
Aquaman Amber Heard

In 2021, Depp was removed from Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and replaced with Mads Mikkelsen, and unfortunately, his career is in deep trouble as a result of this conflict. Meanwhile, Heard, who starred in the first Aquaman film, managed to reprise her role in the sequel, despite fan petitions to get her removed.

If you're wondering how this happened, we have the details below.

Who did Amber Heard play in Aquaman?

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Credit: Warner Bros.

In James Wan's Aquaman movie, Heard plays Mera, the daughter of King Nereus and princess of Sebel. She also appeared in the movie Justice League and is set to appear in the sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

Mera can control water with hydrokinesis and communicate with other Atlanteans telepathically.

When is Aquaman and the Last Kingdom coming to theaters?

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is set to release in theaters on March 17, 2023.

Warner Bros. shifted its release schedule due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the workload of visual effects vendors.

Filming officially wrapped on January 12, 2022, and it's currently in post-production.

What are the fan pressures to have Amber Heard removed from Aquaman?

Amber Heard Johnny Depp
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Credit: Warner Bros. / Disney
Amber Heard Johnny Depp

Following much-publicized legal battles between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, the Pirates of the Caribbean actor lost his role as Grindelwald in the third Fantastic Beasts film. Depp had made allegations of domestic abuse against Heard as well, and this prompted fans to start a petition for the removal of Heard from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

Fans appeared to start the Change.org petition back in December 2019, months after Depp first sued his ex-wife over an op-ed she wrote about alleged domestic abuse.

The petition, which is titled "Remove Amber Heard from Aquaman 2", has been receiving renewed support as the former couple's troubling relationship and disturbing details about their marriage are aired in the courtroom.

Related: Epic Fan Art Casts Emilia Clarke to Replace Amber Heard in Aquaman 2

The petition's description reads: "Men are victims of domestic abuse, just like women. This must be recognized, and action must be taken to prevent a known abuser from being celebrated within the entertainment industry".

“Do the right thing. Remove Amber Heard from Aquaman 2.”

The petition cites various incidents including the one where Heard allegedly punched Depp twice in the face and another instance where she allegedly severed his finger while in Australia.

The petition also reads: “Since Heard's divorce from Johnny Depp, she has systematically crusaded to ruin Depp in Hollywood, repeating multiple accounts of fake incidents in which she had actually abused Johnny Depp, but lied and created false accounts of him being the abuser.”

The petition was made by Jeanne Larson and directed toward DC Entertainment and Courtney Simmons, the SVP for Publicity & Communications for DC Warner Bros.

At the time of this writing, 4.6 million people have signed the petition, becoming one of the top-signed petitions in the world, and it has set a new goal: 6 million signatures.

Responses about the petition have been harsh.

Why did Aquaman 2 not remove Amber Heard?

Aquaman Amber Heard
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Credit: Warner Bros.
Aquaman Amber Heard

Despite the petition and pressure to have Heard removed from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the studio decided to not do it. What's the exact reason? Well, what one of the producers, Peter Safran, might share some insight.

Speaking to the Hero Nation podcast for Deadline in July 2021, producer Peter Safran addressed the issue and his stance on it.

“I don’t think that we’re ever going to react to, honestly, to just pure fan pressure…Because, you know, you’ve gotta do what you feel is best for the movie. We felt that if it’s James Wan and Jason Momoa, it should be Amber Heard. And that’s really what it was.”

So there you go: it sure looks like Heard will still appear in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. It should be noted that it won't be easy to replace Heard since swapping her character with another actress would be awkward for the superhero movie franchise and removing her character eliminates an important role from the series.

Related: Johnny Depp Uses Aquaman Casting as a Defense Against Ex-Wife Amber Heard

We still don't know what kind of backlash this might lead to when the movie is finally released in March 2023, but it seems that the producers and filmmakers are reluctant to bulge to fan pressure.

On April 28, YouTuber Grace Randolph tweeted that Amber Heard will have less than 10 minutes of screentime in Aquaman 2:

Related: Did Aquaman 2 Reduce Amber Heard's Screentime?

While it remains to be seen how much of Heard will appear in the sequel, the verified Aquaman movie account on Instagram last posted about her on April 22, 2019, to mark her birthday.

How much screen time will Amber Heard get in Aquaman 2?

Aquaman 2
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Credit: Warner Bros. / DC
Aquaman 2

Although Warner Bros. hasn't revealed how much screen time Amber Heard will get in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, it was reported that her screen time has been increased amid reports that she won't be in the sequel after she lost the highly publicized defamation case against Johnny Depp.

According to a report published in Spanish newspaper Marca, Heard will have approximately 20 minutes of screen time in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

The outlet reported that Warner Bros. held a meeting to decide whether or not she will be in the final cut of the sequel.

Will Aquaman 2 recast Amber Heard?

Aquaman Amber Heard
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Credit: Warner Bros. / DC Entertainment
Aquaman Amber Heard

On June 14, Just Jared reported that an insider informed them that “Warner Bros. decided to recast Amber Heard‘s role after screentesting the movie. They are going to be doing reshoots with Jason Momoa and Nicole Kidman", adding that the new actress would play Mera in the Aquaman sequel and any future DC movies.

However, a spokesperson for Heard countered the claims, telling DailyMail.com: "The rumor mill continues as it has from day one - inaccurate, insensitive, and slightly insane".

However, Warner Bros. hasn't officially confirmed this report.

Was Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom mentioned during the trial?

According to summary motion documents previously obtained by Hollywood Life, the evidence that will be shown in the trial at Fairfax County, VA courtroom include text messages between Amber Heard and her Aquaman co-star, Jason Momoa.

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During her defamation trial on May 16, Heard claims that Warner Bros. "didn't want to include me" in the upcoming Aquaman sequel. She said that she was "actively scheduling timing for filming" the second Aquaman film until Depp's team called her a liar regarding her abuse claims against Depp, Variety reported. Heard said that "communications" about Aquaman 2 "stopped at that point."

“I was given a script and then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it, that depicted my character and another character, without giving any spoiler aways, two characters fighting with one another, and they basically took a bunch out of my role,” Heard said. “They just removed a bunch out.”

On May 17, 2022, during the cross-examination, when Heard was asked by Depp's lawyer Camille Vasquez if she was replaced in Aquaman 2, and said that she was released from her contract, but fought to stay in it, and they kept her in it. However, she doesn't know how much of her role will be showed in the final cut. She said that her role in the sequel was “a very pared-down version.”

“I was given a script and then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it, that depicted my character and another character, without giving any spoiler aways, two characters fighting with one another, and they basically took a bunch out of my role,” Heard said. “They just removed a bunch out.”

"I just don't know how much I'm in, actually, of the final cut," she said.

When asked minutes later about the status of her role in the Aquaman 2, Heard said, "As I said, I don't know if I will even be in the final cut or how much I will be. It was difficult to stay in the movie."

On May 19, Heard's WME agent, Jessica Kovacevic, testified on May 19 during the trial that Warner Bros. claim it was Heard's "lack of chemistry" with Jason Momoa that almost got her removed

Kovacevic also talked about Heard's career before and after her relationship with Depp, saying that the 36-year-old actress should have become a major star after 2018's Aquaman movie.

Kovacevic said that in her opinion, Warner Bros. didn’t “want to hire someone who has bad press,” adding, “No one wants that association.”

On May 20, WME's Jessica Kovacevic, Amber Heard's agent, virtually testified that she was told Warner Bros.' reason for allegedly reducing Heard's role in Aquaman 2 was because of "the lack of chemistry between her and Jason."

Kovacevic said WME learned Heard's Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom role was allegedly reduced when Heard received the script. Speaking about Heard's success after Aquaman, the agent said that she believed Heard's career did not take off as much as Momoa's.

When asked how Heard's career was harmed, her agent said, "In my experience ... Your career takes a turn after something like that. She was very well received in the movie at the time, everyone was happy with her at the time, there were no issues. Then to have a complete downturn after that, and then have that coincide with constant tweets and negativity put out about her, I don't have a physical piece of paper of evidence, but it's the only logical conclusion I draw."

Kovacevic also said there were no "performance issues raised" with Heard's Aquaman role; instead, to her understanding, the 36-year-old actress "tested extremely well" for the movie.

Johnny Depp was cross-examined again and denied claims he tried to get Amber Heard fired from Aquaman 2. The Pirates of the Caribbean star also calls alleged text messages "ludicrous" that claim he said he could get any woman he wanted.

Related: What Role Was Amber Heard Offered For an X-Rated Movie? Here's What We Know So Far

DC President of Films squashes claims of Heard's Aquaman role affected by Johnny Depp

On May 24, Walter Hamada, President of DC-Based Film Production, Warner Bros. Pictures, testified on May 24 via video link at Depp's defamation trial against Heard. The executive said that Heard's role was actually called into question because the studio was concerned about her lack of "chemistry" with co-star Jason Momoa.

“They didn’t have a lot of chemistry together,” Hamada said. “The reality is it’s not uncommon on movies for two leads to not have chemistry and it’s sort of movie magic and editorial — the ability to put performances with the magic of a great score and how you put the pieces together, you can fabricate that chemistry. At the end of the day when you watch the movie, it looks like they have great chemistry.

"But I just know that through the course of post-production, it took a lot of effort to get there. Sometimes you just put characters together on the screen and they work. It’s like what makes a movie star a movie star. You know it when you see it. The chemistry wasn’t there … This one was more difficult because of lack of chemistry between the two.”

Is Aquaman star Jason Momoa a fan of Johnny Depp?

Jason Momoa follows Johnny Depp Instagram
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Credit: Instagram
Jason Momoa follows Johnny Depp Instagram

In the midst of Amber Heard and Johnny Depp's legal battle, Aquaman star Jason Momoa appeared to have followed Depp on Instagram.

Momoa reportedly started following Depp on Instagram as soon as the trial in Fairfax, Virginia began. Fans have speculated that Momoa's close proximity to the Pirates of the Caribbean star is a sign that the Aquaman star may be siding with Depp in his legal dispute with his co-star Amber Heard.

Both Depp and Heard are now following the Game of Thrones star on Instagram. Momoa's PR crew could be the reason behind Momoa following Depp. Considering that he had already followed Heard on Instagram, his decision to follow Depp may have been an effort to show that he's impartial.

Other famous celebrities who have backed Depp include Paul Bettany, JK Rowling, Sia, Penelope Cruz, and Javier Bardem. Aquaman director James Wan reportedly unfollowed Amber Heard.

A jury has found both Amber Heard and Johnny Depp liable for defamation in their lawsuits against each other. They awarded significantly more damages to Depp, a legal victory for the actor.

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