Less than a week after winning a defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard, Johnny Depp appears ready to restart his career.
The announcement came amid the fallout of the widely publicized and closely watched six-week trial, during which Depp alleged that Heard, 36, defamed him by calling herself a domestic abuse survivor in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. The jury awarded Depp $15 million in damages and Heard $2 million — for defamatory comments made by Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman in a Daily Mail article. Legal experts have called the verdict a decisive win for Depp, and it is being celebrated as such by fervent fans online and mourned by those who see Heard’s loss as a sign that the #MeToo movement is losing steam.
Beck and Depp’s album, which will come out in July, could signal a swift attempt to relaunch Depp’s career. During the trial, Depp said that Heard’s allegations had damaged his career and led Disney to drop him from “Pirates of the Caribbean 6.” “The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun,” he said in a statement after the jury returned its verdict.
The publicity surrounding the trial could help Depp with a restart, said Eve Ng, a professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University and author of “Cancel Culture: A Critical Analysis.” “I bet there are people who wouldn’t have even looked at this album, but now are going to be like, ‘I’m going to go out and buy that just to support him,’ ” Ng said.
That process could be harder for Heard. She has appeared in multiple films, such as “The Rum Diary” and “Pineapple Express,” but wrote in The Post op-ed that friends and advisers told her she would be blacklisted for coming forward with accusations against Depp, who is not named in the piece. Despite starring in “Aquaman,” she wrote that she had to fight to keep her role in the sequel and attributed it to “wrath for women who speak out.”
“She can’t win,” Ng said. “If she lays low and waits for it to blow over, then people who think that she deserves all the horrible backlash that she got will have won. … But if she tries to come up with a project like Johnny Depp did, her detractors will say, ‘Oh, she’s just trying to do that to make us forget her terrible behavior.’ ”
Heard, who accused Depp of physical violence, lamented the outcome of case. Her attorney has said she will appeal the decision. “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,” Heard said in a statement.
Depp’s turn to music is not a total surprise. Although he is best known for acting in films such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Alice in Wonderland,” before his career in Hollywood, he dropped out of school to become a musician. He played in the short-lived rock band P, which sometimes featured performers from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sex Pistols. He has since collaborated with Oasis, Iggy Pop and Marilyn Manson, among others. In 2015, he formed Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry.
At the show in England last week, Depp bowed during Beck’s announcement and said that he and Beck met five years before and have “never stopped laughing since.” Depp has made multiple appearances onstage during Beck’s current tour, and the two released a single together in 2020.
It makes sense for Depp to try to restart his career after the favorable verdict, said Sarah Kovoor, a professor at University of Colorado Denver Business School who researches crisis management. But he should be cautious, she said.
“He has to be very careful that he doesn’t shift from victim to villain,” she said. “He needs to show that this is not just a PR stunt, that this is something that he has been working on for some time. He needs to make it as if he’s moving forward and not trying to cause harm to Heard or anyone else.”
An earlier version of this article identified Eve Ng as a communications professor at Ohio University. She is a professor in the university's School of Media Arts and Studies.