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Former Disney Exec Predicts Major Comeback for Johnny Depp Following Amber Heard Trial

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A former top executive at the Walt Disney Co. has opined that actor Johnny Depp’s career is not over and that he will be back bigger and better than ever following his recently concluded trial involving ex-wife and actress Amber Heard.

As People magazine reports:

Depp, 58, won his defamation claims against Heard, 36, on Wednesday, concluding a contentious six-week legal battle in Virginia that put their private lives in the public eye. (Heard also won one of her three claims of defamation, and her lawyer said Thursday that she plans to appeal.) Afterward, Depp said in a statement that the jury “gave me my life back” and the “best is yet to come” for him.

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While Hollywood insiders have conflicting views on whether his career will bounce back after the trial, a former Disney exec thinks Depp could be asked to return to the Pirates franchise soon.

“I absolutely believe post-verdict that Pirates is primed for rebooting with Johnny as Capt. Jack back on board,” the former exec told the magazine. “There is just too much potential box-office treasure for a beloved character deeply embedded in the Disney culture.”

“With [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer riding high on the massive success of Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ there is huge appetite for bringing back bankable Hollywood stars in massively popular franchises,” the insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.

Depp received an Oscar nomination for playing Capt. Jack Sparrow in the original 2003 movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” The sequels, which were released in 2006, 2007, 2011, and 2017, were also hits.

That said, another Hollywood insider who has worked on previous ‘Pirates’ movies told the outlet that it is “not very likely” Depp will “come back as a star.” Rather, “they’d probably make Pirates 6 with Margot Robbie or someone similar.”

Previous reports have said that Robbie, 31, was under consideration for a Pirates reboot. Franchise producer Bruckheimer recently told The Sunday Times they are “developing two Pirates scripts — one with her, one without.”

The first insider, who assessed that the newest sequel won’t be set for release until 2025 because of production timelines, added: “I would think they make Robbie his daughter and likely have a cameo with him as a test.”

People adds:

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During his time testifying in the defamation case, Depp spoke about his falling out with Disney executives, saying he felt he’d become “guilty until proven innocent.” The star — who also has the Alice in Wonderland franchise with the company — said on the stand that he would not work with Disney again, even if they offered him a $300 million paycheck.

But the insider discounted that, telling the magazine: “I don’t believe that based on his money troubles, especially given Pirates is a billion-dollar global franchise.”

Another industry source predicts that Depp “will work again.”

I do feel someone will give him a chance. He is very likable and very talented. A studio will just have to gauge and see if it [is] worth the risk and value, but he also won public opinion. He gained a whole new fan base through this and, yes, he will be back,” the source said.

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A Hollywood agent went on to tell People though “reputations have been torn down on both sides” thanks to the much-watched court defamation battle, Depp’s career could still “flourish, because this is the world that we live in.”

The agent added: “His fans are very loyal and vocal and all know he is far from perfect.”

In reaction to the Virginia verdict on Wednesday, Heard noted in a statement that she was “disappointed” by the jury’s decision.

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“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband,” she added.

The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

Heard won her defamation countersuit and was awarded $2 million.

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