What happens if Johnny Depp loses? Actor's 'victory' in court of public opinion could see star rise

Some legal experts believe that Johnny Depp is making the right move since he would essentially revive his Hollywood career by clearing his name


                            What happens if Johnny Depp loses? Actor's 'victory' in court of public opinion could see star rise
Johnny Depp waves to supporters as he leaves the Fairfax County Courthouse on May 25, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia (Getty Images)
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As the courtroom battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard enters its final leg, many are wondering what would happen if the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' star loses the case.

Heard, 36, is battling a defamation lawsuit brought on by Depp, 58, who is seeking more than $50 million in damages over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which the actress claimed to be a domestic abuse survivor. While Depp was not mentioned in the article, his lawyers have argued the implications were obvious and damaged their client's career prospects. Heard has countersued for $100 million.

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The latest trial came less than two years after Depp lost a libel case in 2020 against British tabloid The Sun after it labeled the actor a "wife-beater" in reference to Heard's accusations of domestic abuse. Heard claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse in her divorce filing in 2016. The actors, who tied the knot in 2015, were officially divorced in January 2017.

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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend The UK Premiere of 'The Rum Diary' on November 3, 2011, in London, England (Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)

 

Depp has always maintained he was never violent with Heard, but the overseeing judge in London ruled that the UK newspaper's claims that he was abusive to his ex-wife were "substantially true." The verdict resulted in Depp being "asked to resign" from 'Fantastic Beasts 3', in which he was hoping to reprise his role as Gellert Grindelwald but was subsequently replaced by Mads Mikkelsen. 

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Johnny Depp arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand on July 13, 2020, in London, England (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

 

Depp may have won in the court of public opinion, but his fans are wondering whether he would have to bear the financial costs and further risk his reputation should he lose the Virginia lawsuit. Some legal experts, however, believe that the 'Donnie Brasco' star is making the right move since he would essentially revive his Hollywood career by clearing his name. "The expense is inconsequential to Depp compared to the potential to regain his movie career," California First Amendment attorney Jeff Lewis told Newsweek. "And keep in mind, unlike England, we here in the US have a rule that each side bears their own attorney's fees. So if Depp loses, he will not have to pay Heard's attorney fees and vice versa. As such it is relatively easy to calculate the monetary investment needed to go to trial—and appeal."

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Johnny Depp steps outside court during his civil trial at Fairfax County Circuit Court on April 25, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

 

Lewis continued, "The reason Depp is moving forward is the millions of dollars that can be made in movies if his name is cleared. Recall that Robert Downey Jr's career was in the pits for a long time before 'Iron Man' and 'Sherlock Holmes' came out. This trial—and a positive verdict for Depp—can accelerate the recovery curve and get Depp back into the business."

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Robert Downey Jr was notoriously arrested on multiple occasions between 1996 and 2001 on drug-related charges. The actor eventually turned his life around through rehab in 2001 and went on to enjoy the most successful years of his Hollywood career.

Robert Downey Jr attends the premiere of 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' at TCL Chinese Theatre on June 28, 2017, in Hollywood, California (Photo by Alberto E Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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"Getting his name cleared in court is the only way to regain his career," Lewis said of Depp. "Given the damage that happened in the last trial, Depp's reputation can only improve and certainly cannot appreciably decline," he insisted.