What happened after Netflix’s ‘Depp v. Heard’ documentary?

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s highly publicised court case is the subject of a new documentary.

Directed by Emma Cooper, Depp v. Heard is a three-part series which explores the impact of social media on the trial, which saw Depp sue his ex-wife for defamation.

A synopsis reads: “The trial of Depp v Heard, in which both parties accused each other of domestic abuse, was a global media event and dubbed ‘the first TikTok trial’. It raised huge questions about violence, gender and the memeification of justice in the era of post-truth.”

The documentary series, which originally aired on Channel 4 in the UK earlier this year, was released worldwide on Netflix in August.

What was the verdict of the Depp v Heard trial?

Depp sued his ex-wife Heard for defamation over a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post, where she wrote about being a survivor of domestic violence. The piece did not mention Depp by name, but his lawyers argued it falsely implied she was physically abused by him during their marriage.

Heard later filed a counterclaim, arguing Depp had created a smear campaign against her.

Following the trial, a jury found Heard liable in three instances of defamation raised. Depp was awarded $10million in compensatory damages and $5million in punitive damages, but due to Virginia state limitations, the latter was reduced to $350,000.

Heard was awarded $2million in compensatory damages due to her counterclaim. She initially stood to pay Depp $8.35million in total, but filed an appeal the following month in July, citing “errors” made by the court.

This appeal was withdrawn in December, however, with Heard deciding to settle the case by paying her ex-husband $1million in damages, instead of $8.35million.

In a statement released on December 19 on Instagram, Heard wrote: “After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex-husband in Virginia.

“It’s important for me to say that I never chose this. I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed. The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised when they come forward. Now I finally have an opportunity to emancipate myself from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to.

“I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward. I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.”

She added: “I will not be threatened, disheartened or dissuaded by what happened from speaking the truth. No one can and no one will take that from me. My voice forever remains the most valuable asset I have.”

In a statement following the decision (via Variety), Depp’s attorneys said they were “pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light”. Depp’s representatives said the $1million payment from Heard was donated to charity.

What has happened to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard following the verdict?

While the case has been settled, the controversy surrounding both Depp and Heard has remained a contentious issue in the months since.

After reports she had been dropped from the role, it was announced that Heard would reprise her role of Mera in Aquaman sequel, Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom. The decision, however, sparked mixed reactions from fans.

In May, Depp made an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival to promote the film Jeanne du Barry, which sparked a backlash. Thierry Fremaux, director of the festival, defended the decision to include the film on multiple occasions.

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp at the Cannes Film Festival 2023. CREDIT: Samir Hussein/WireImage

At the festival, Depp later responded to suggestions that he was “boycotted” by Hollywood due to the trial. The actor said: “Did I feel boycotted by Hollywood? You’d have to not have a pulse to feel like, ‘No. None of this is happening. It’s a weird joke.’

“When you’re asked to resign from a film you’re doing because of something that is merely a function of vowels and consonants floating in the air, yes, you feel boycotted.”

He added: “I don’t feel boycotted by Hollywood, because I don’t think about Hollywood. It’s a strange, funny time where everybody would love to be able to be themselves, but they can’t. They must fall in line with the person in front of them. If you want to live that life, I wish you the best.”

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