According to testimony in Johnny Depp’s ill-fated libel case against British tabloid The Sun, the actor once downed eight ecstasy pills, sustained an injury to his finger, and had to be flown back to L.A. for surgery, delaying the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and costing Disney $350,000 a day for two weeks.
It’s one of many bizarre incidents included in a career postmortem published by The Hollywood Reporter this week, which details how Depp has been complicit in the downfall of his career. According to the story, he’s alienating the few supporters he has left rather than trying to rehabilitate his tarnished rep.
As Johnny Depp begins his appeal of a UK court’s decision that British tabloid The Sun did not commit libel when it called the actor “wife beater” in a 2018 article accusing him of assaulting ex-wife Amber Hear, new allegations are coming to light about how the former superstar managed to wreck his career. And allegedly costing Disney $350,000 a day to shut down Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales after he took eight ecstasy pills at once is merely par for Depp’s twisting course.
While many in the entertainment industry will no longer go near Depp—who was fired from the Fantastic Beasts franchise after he lost in court but managed to keep his $16 million paycheck—the organizers of the Polish film festival EnergaCamerimage were set to honor Depp at the November 21 gala and celebrate his micro-budget period piece Minamata. All Depp had to do was show up remotely after the festival had played up his appearance in the press.
Instead, Depp was a no show—unless you count the weird photo he sent along featuring him a Caribbean jail sporting platinum hair, colorful scarves, and an open shirt. Minamata distributor, MGM, quickly canceled the screening citing piracy concerns.
“You simply can’t work with him now,” one studio head told THR. “He’s radioactive.”
The Pirates misadventure wasn’t just a costly nuisance for Disney. Court testimony revealed it was part of terror campaign against Heard, who Depp accused of wounding his finger by throwing a liquor bottle at him.
Another studio exec who worked with Depp said, “The discovery that came out in that trial alone would be enough to scare any studio,” adding that Depp is “a huge liability.”
Depp’s many proclamations of innocence before, during, and after the trail were largely neutralized by Justice Andrew Nicol, who read aloud many of Depp’s damning texts, such as the one he sent to actor Paul Bettany.
“Let’s burn Amber!!!” Depp is said to have written. “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”
Nicol also helped prepare Depp’s professional coffin when he said in his decision that what The Sun had published was “substantially true.”
Not that Depp needed any help.
“He’s just never been told no for the past 35 years,” a producer who worked on a recent Depp project says. “That’s typical in Hollywood. But I’ve never seen it to this extent.”
Even producer Jerry Bruckheimer, one of Depp’s last remaining fans in the business, has seen his friendship with Depp strain under the barrage of the fallen idol’s professional carnage. Bruckheimer had to give up his idea of slipping a Jack Sparrow cameo into the upcoming, female-led Pirates reboot. Bruckheimer also reportedly had to cancel plans of casting Depp as Harry Houdini in a big-budget production about the legendary illusionist.
Being friends with Depp—whose $16 million Beasts payday plummeted to $3 million for Minamata—has become a costly endeavor of late. Insiders say that under the influence of slick Washington lawyer Adam Waldman, Depp has sued or otherwise cast off many former members of his inner circle.
With Waldman on board, Depp cut ties with his agent of three decades, UTA’s Tracey Jacobs, and sued his longtime business manager Joel Mandel for $25 million, and went after his entertainment lawyer and father figure, Jake Bloom, for $50 million, alleging malpractice.
The Mandel suit may have been particularly ill-conceived, as the case revealed that Depp had bought 14 residences, spent $30,000 a month on wine, and blew $5 million to have the ashes of his hero, Hunter S. Thompson, fired from a cannon atop a 153-foot tower.
“The abuse and drinking and drugging are one thing—certainly horrible,” one industry figure told THR. “But then to top it off by going after the very people who were the closest business and personal relationships for years, shows a level of toxicity rarely seen.”
Still, not everyone wants to see the end of Depp. His former partner and mother of his two children, Vanessa Paradis, testified on his behalf during the trial, as did ex-fiancée Winona Ryder.
Strangers still have Depp’s back as well. The hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp is still alive and kicking, and a petition to get Heard fired from the Aquaman sequel has garnered more than 1.5 million signatures.
Yet Depp remains loath to do himself any favors. In his relentless quest for exoneration, he is still suing Heard for defamation in Virginia over an opinion piece she penned for the Washington Post.
“It is really hard to imagine why anyone would ever decide to pursue a strategy like that,” says Time’s Up Legal Defense co-founder and former member of Heard’s legal team, Roberta Kaplan. “Amber Heard did not bring this on herself. She sought a [temporary restraining order] back in 2016 so that she could change the locks on her front door and be safe. All the litigation since then … [has] been generated by Johnny Depp himself.”
This time around, Depp won’t be able to rely on Waldman’s counsel. The judge threw him off the case for leaking confidential information to the press.
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