Amber Heard’s removal from ‘Aquaman 2’ is the right step towards levelling the playing field for victims of abuse both male and female.
Rumours that Amber Heard has been fired from ‘Aquaman 2’ (2022) have been circling the internet since February 28th. Various publications report she has been removed from the upcoming ‘Aquaman’ sequel where she plays Mera, reprising her role from ‘Aquaman’ (2017) and ‘Justice League’ (2017). The reports have not been confirmed by Warner Bros. or DC Entertainment and the claims arrive amid a larger dispute between Heard, Johnny Depp and the pair’s respective fan bases.
An article published on the website Latestly, then syndicated in a Yahoo! News story, stated that an anonymous source was quoted saying “Amber Heard did not pass her physical examination. She’s put on some pounds and is in terrible shape. There is a clause in her contract which she says is required to be in good form ahead of shooting and she violated that”. Heard’s alleged firing, if true, would be the result many fans and defenders of ex-husband Johnny Depp have been campaigning for ever since Depp was asked to resign from ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’ (2022).
Depp and Heard have each accused each other of domestic violence and abuse. Heard said she has been assaulted by Depp on more than 14 occasions - left with a broken nose, black eyes and a split lip. He also apparently threw a mobile phone at her face with “extreme force”. Meanwhile, Depp claims Heard was “flailing and punching him” and accuses her of severing his finger tip after throwing a vodka bottle at him that cut the top of his finger and “crushed the bones”.
What do I think about all this? Well, I think there are a couple of things to consider here...
On the subject of so-called “cancel culture” (when celebrities are removed or blacklisted from projects due to controversy), I’m generally against cancelling a person’s career. I don’t think a homophobic tweet, for example, should necessarily end someone’s career. There’s a difference between thinking inappropriately and acting inappropriately. A person shouldn’t be cancelled for having offensive, inappropriate beliefs, just educated.
Gibson has repeatedly apologised for his actions and made amendments such as asking for meetings with Jewish leaders, attending rehab and being sober for 10 years. It’s safe to say he’s a changed man.
25 years on, Downey is now the 2nd highest-grossing actor in Hollywood with a Box Office total of $5,818,750,378, raking in $75 million for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019) alone playing billionaire industrialist, playboy and superhero Tony Stark/Iron Man. This can be put down to a remarkable rehabilitation and recovery on his part and effort - proof that even the baddest of boys can change for the better. Drug/alcohol abuse and racism and anti-semitism maybe be morally wrong, but there are far worse crimes and sins such as as sexual abuse, harassment and paedophilia. Neither Downey nor Gibson are guilty of these.
What were the consequences of his actions? Spacey was removed from the sixth and final season of ‘House of Cards’ as both star and producer, the Gore Vidal biopic ‘Gore’ starring Spacey was cancelled and Netflix severed all ties with him. Spacey was also removed from ‘All the Money in the World’ (2018) and replaced by Christopher Plummer. The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences reversed its decision to honour Spacey with the 2017 International Emmy Founders Award. On November 2nd, 2017, Variety reported his publicist Staci Wolfe and talent agency Creative Artists Agency were ending their relationship with him.
There’s a distinct difference between Spacey’s case and the cases of Gibson and Downey Jr. Gibson made politically incorrect, offensive statements and Downey was a drug addict, but Spacey sexually abused people, even children which is a completely different kettle of fish and a far greater crime in my opinion.
There still isn’t proof that Spacey committed these acts which begs the question of whether he should really be cancelled if there isn’t evidence that proves he was a sexual abuser. That’s what police and courts are for and they’ve launched investigations into him. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office stated in April 2018 that it would investigate an allegation that Spacey sexually assaulted an adult male in 1992. In July 2018, three more allegations of sexual assault against Spacey were revealed bringing the total number of UK open investigations up to 6.
In September 2018, a lawsuit filed at Los Angeles Superior Court claimed Spacey sexually assaulted an unnamed masseur at a house in Malibu, California in October 2016. In December 2018, Spacey was also charged with a felony for allegedly assaulting journalist Heather Unruh’s 18 year old son in Nantucket, Massachusetts. This is the first formal piece of judicial evidence that could prove Spacey was a sexual abuser and therefore justified his cancellation. Later that month, Unruh’s son filed a lawsuit against Spacey, claiming emotional damages. On July 5th, 2019, he voluntarily dismissed the claims with prejudice.
Later, on July 17th, 2019, the criminal assault charge against Spacey was dropped by the Cape and Islands prosecutors. When the anonymous massage therapist who accused him died, the last remaining criminal case against Spacey was closed.
However, on September 9th, 2020, Rapp sued Spacey for sexual assault, sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress under the Child Victims Act, which extended New York’s statute of limitations for civil suits related to child sexual abuse. Joining Rapp in the suit against Spacey was a man who requested to remain anonymous who accused Spacey of sexually abusing him in 1983, when he was 14 and Spacey was 24. This is further proof of the allegations and justifies Spacey’s cancellation.
I love the biblical story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery. If you want to be religious at this time of day, the quote reads “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. I wonder whether this should be applied to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. We would be technically throwing stones by judging whether either of them are abusers. Let’s look at ourselves before throwing stones at others
But, say, we are throwing stones and both Depp and Heard turn out to be guilty of domestic abuse, doesn’t it seem wrong that Depp is the only one getting punished for his actions?
Heard claims Depp beat her on more than 14 occasions. He supposedly gave her a broken nose, black eyes and a split lip with vicious, drunken tirades that lasted for days. But then Depp accuses Heard of severing his finger tip with a vodka bottle and he’s still the one branded a “wife beater” by The Sun and 2020’s libel case.
I wonder whether this libel case has exposed a bias towards women in the legal system; favouring them in domestic abuse cases. The press are more likely to believe Heard because she is an actress, model, activist and domestic abuse survivor. She has been a vocal campaigner on the issue of domestic and sexual abuse. The UN Human Rights Campaign even named her as a Human Rights Champion for her work advocating women’s rights. She’s also an ambassador for Women’s Rights for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and has given speeches and written in the Washington Post and the New York Times about her experience of domestic violence.
In the #MeToo era, Heard has been a leading figure who speaks up for women suffering in silence by revealing the abuse she supposedly suffered at the hands of one of Hollywood’s most bankable movie stars.
But, then again, Depp has a reputation for being one of the nicest men in Hollywood. Just look at how he visits children in pediatric wards dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow on numerous occasions and supported 19 charities and foundations including Great Ormond Street Hospital, Sophie’s Gift and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
There is a further bias known as lookism at stake in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard case. That’s positive or negative discrimination towards a person based on their physical attractiveness. Heard is certainly a beautiful woman and I wonder whether that’s a very likely reason why the courts have stood in her favour and against Depp who the years have not been kind to with a pot belly and rotting teeth.
Roy Hollier from thelawproject.com uncovered that unattractive criminals were fined $800 more than attractive criminals for serious misdemeanors. Unattractive criminals got 4 years in prison as opposed to 1.5 years for attractive criminals. He also discovered that the more baby-faced the defendant, the more likely to win with 0.9% in favour of the highest baby-faced defendant and 0.3% for the lowest baby-faced defendant. That makes jurors 0.6% more in favour of baby-faced defendants than non baby-faced defendants. A shocking statistic.
Either way, if Heard has been removed from ‘Aquaman 2’, it is a step in the right direction towards levelling the playing field for victims of abuse both male and female. Neither should have to suffer in silence...
Meet Roshan Chandy
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
Roshan's Top 5 Films of the Week
1. A Quiet Place: Part II (in cinemas)
2. Cruella (in cinemas)
3. After Love (in cinemas)
4. Dream Horse (in cinemas)
5. Frankie (in cinemas)
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