Walter Hamada, the president of DC-based film production Warner Bros, appeared in court via video deposition to debunk claims of reduction in Amber Heard's compensation due to things said by Johnny Depp or his lawyer, Adam Waldman.
He said that in the postproduction of Aquaman, Warner Bros had to "fabricate" chemistry between Amber Heard and Jason Momoa. He also said that her role in and compensation for Aquaman 2 was not in "any way" affected by what Depp or his lawyer said.
But Hamada did admit that there was some delay in confirming if Heard would be a part of Aquaman 2. This, he attributed to "conversations about recasting" her role because of the lack of chemistry between Heard and Momoa.
He explained: "Editorially, they were able to make that relationship work in the movie. There was a concern it took a lot of effort to get there. Warner Bros was considering someone with better, more natural chemistry with Jason Momoa and move forward that way."
When cross-examined by Heard's lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, he added: "It's not uncommon for two leads to not have chemistry. It's movie magic and editorial - the ability to put a performance together. You can fabricate that chemistry. If you watch the movie, they look like they had great chemistry. It took a lot of effort to get there. Sometimes it's very easy and sometimes it's hard."
Bredehoft then asked what exactly the chemistry between Heard and Momoa was, to which Hamada replied, "It's like what makes a movie star a movie star. You know it when you see it, and it wasn't there."
Then, Bredehoft asked about what they did to fabricate the chemistry. He replied: "Pick the right takes, the right moments, and put scenes together. The music in the scene makes a big difference. Just the magic of postproduction, editing, sound, music, etc."
Next, Bredehoft asked if all it took was something like the music or "literally falsifying" the chemistry between both leads.
Hamada replied: "That's what we do in postproduction. On any production, you're doing that. This one was more difficult because of the lack of chemistry, but they were able to get it to a place where the end result works, and it's great."
So, the chemistry in the released work was not a result of Heard's great acting but the postproduction's fantastic editing.
Heard's legal team claimed that she could have gotten more money for the second Aquaman movie, from $2 million to $6 million.
Hamada denied such claims about Warner Bros considering paying Heard more for Aquaman 2. He said that a "big part of [their] philosophy" was to hold actors to their original agreement.
He also denied claims of reducing Heard's role in the movie and taking away an action scene.
When questioned about this issue by one of Depp's lawyers, he said that the "character's involvement was what it was from the beginning."
He added that "from the early stages of development of the script, the movie was building around the character of Arthur and Orm," played by Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson, respectively... the co-leads of the movie.
"The movie was always pitched as a buddy comedy between Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson," not Heard.
Also presented to the court was a text from James Wan, Aquaman's director, to Heard in August 2018. It said: "You rated really high with the audience!!!" Hamada said that would have been after a test screening.
This happened as Judge Penney Azcarate rejected a request to cancel Heard's $100 million counterclaim after both sides battled rhetorically.
Benjamin Chew said that there was no "clear and convincing evidence" that Waldman made any defamatory sentences knowing they were false. He argued that Waldman "had very reasonable grounds, and he did believe and will to his dying day that Miss Heard's claims were patently false."
On the other hand, Heard's lawyer, Ben Rottenborn, argued that Waldman was acting as Depp's lawyer and that Depp was, therefore, responsible for Waldman's conduct.
The judge ruled that there was enough evidence to prove that Adam Waldman was working as a lawyer for Johnny Depp when he made claims to the media that Heard's claims were a hoax. According to her, there was "more than a scintilla of evidence," although Azcarate did say that it is not her role to measure the evidence's veracity or weight. That is the work of the jury.
Chew said that Depp "has no issue with women's rights" and that he supports it. This, he says, is evident in how Depp donated $100,000 each to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children's Hospital Los Angeles as part of the $7 million divorce settlement he gave to Heard.
At this point, Rottenborn cuts in to say that Chew was "making an argument to the cameras" that was "disrespectful to the court," but the judge allowed Chew to continue.
He added that Heard and the ACLU conspired to cover up her "failure" to donate the $7 million to the organization and hospital as planned and that they "intentionally and very cleverly" made the 2018 op-ed about Depp without mentioning his name.
He said that "everyone knew darn well this was about Mr. Depp" and that it was all coordinated by a "brainiac lawyer" at the ACLU.
The op-ed was released at a time that coincided with the release of Aquaman, which is supposedly Heard's biggest movie to this day.
Chew also said Heard's lawyers were "game playing" and even trifled with calling Depp as a witness just to "fill a hole in a counterclaim."
He also said that when Heard faced awkward questions about why she took $7 million from an abuser, referencing Depp, she said she had given it away when in actuality, "she did stiff the sick and dying children" by not releasing $3.5 million slated for the hospital.
Rottenborn, on the other hand, spoke about how Depp and Waldman "conspired to falsely accuse Amber." He said: "Mr. Waldman was standing in the shoes of Mr. Depp. They are one and the same."
He then went on to state the instance when Waldman filed a complaint against Heard for committing perjury, with the Los Angeles Police Department and that he even planted the story with a German TV station.
In Rottenborn's words, "that's a shameful and sickening example of the lengths Mr. Depp through Mr. Waldman would go to smear and defame Miss Heard."
He added that Depp's lawyers were misrepresenting the evidence about the ACLU and that there was no "single piece of evidence" that shows that the ACLU conspired to defame Depp but that there is "plenty of evidence" showing that "no hoax" was "perpetrated."
He concluded that "Mr. Depp is an abuser who abused Miss Heard."
Also taking the stand via video call was David Kulber, the hand surgeon at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. He was the one who operated on Depp's hand and put a cast on it after a fight between Depp and Heard in Australia in March 2015.
Depp's lawyer asked him about the severed fingertip, and he said surgery was needed because of a fracture and "soft tissue loss." Kulber had put Depp's hand in a splint with paster on the top and bottom to protect the hand.
Then the lawyer asked if Depp could have grabbed someone with the cast on. Kulber said it was possible but that the two fingers next to his right index finger would not be able to move.
Another of Depp's lawyers asked if Depp could have hit someone while wearing the cast. Dr. Kulber responded; "He could have. It probably would have damaged the cast."
The surgeon admitted that Depp's "other hand" was "available" and that he could have thrashed Heard's wardrobe, throwing over her rack of clothes and shoes on March 23, 2015.
Rottenborn, heard's lawyer later asked: "Regardless of whether Mr. Depp grabbed someone, he could have grabbed someone with the hand without the cast on?"
Dr. Kulber responded: "Correct."
About Heard losing out on earnings because of Depp, Depp's lawyers recalled Hollywood lawyer and expert on the entertainment industry, Richard Marks. He said that claims by Heard's Hollywood industry expert that she lost $50 million because her claims were called a "hoax" was incorrect.
He says, "My opinions are that she's very slick and smooth, but she's not an expert in deal-making. Her assessment of damages is built on nothing and is wildly speculative." So even if there were any damages, Heard's assessment was not factual.
He also said that even if Jason Momoa renegotiated his contract for the sequel, it didn't mean that she could do the same because he is "not a comparable actor" to her.
He said: "He played Conan the Barbarian. He was in Game of Thrones, it's not comparable."
Also called upon was Doug Bania, Depp's social media and internet analytics expert. He was called to assess the evidence provided by Ron Schnell, Heard's equivalent expert.
Bania said Schnell "provided no evidence of a correlation" between what Walman said and the spikes in negative hashtags about Heard. He also said that in order to evaluate Heard's loss of income, her entertainment industry expert, Kathryn Arnold, came up with actors that are "not comparable" to Heard.
He said: "Mr. Schnell and Miss Arnold both failed to provide any evidence of causation as it relates to the Waldman statements causing harm to Miss Heard."
To Back up his claims, Bania examined the 2.7 million tweets used by Schnell in his analysis for Heard.
According to the analysis, only 2% of those tweets about Depp and Heard were made between April 2020 and June 2020, when Waldman made his comments to the media.
About 35% of the tweets were tweeted between January 2018 and March 2020.
According to Bania, the use of the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp was highest in February 2020, which was before Waldman made his statements, and the next time there was a spike in the use of the hashtag was in July 2020. That was well after Walman's statement, and Bania said that the spike was "not related."
The third time there was a spike in the use of the hashtag was in November 2020, around the time articles about Heard returning for Aquaman 2 were published. Other spikes were noticed during the UK libel trial between Heard and Depp and when efforts were made to replace Heard in the film.
He concluded that the statement made by Adam Waldman about Heard's claims being a hoax did not correlate with those tweets because the time period was off.
He said: "For such a viral event that has (supposedly) caused such economic harm, there are no spikes in this area. I'm not seeing any correlation between the Waldman statements and the hashtags. The hashtags have nothing to do with the Waldman statements."
Bania said that between April 2020 and January 2021, he found only five tweets related to comments by Waldman. Terms used by Waldman, such as "abuse hoax," appeared 749 times, "sexual violence hoax" was never mentioned, and "fake sexual violence" was mentioned twice.
This means that of the 1.2 million tweets made in that time, using the hashtags #justiceforjohnnydepp, #amberheardisanabuser, #wejustdontlikeyouamber, or #amberturd, only 751 tweets or 0.06 percent were a result of what Waldman said.
According to Bania, there should have been a "big spike" in hashtags about Depp due to Waldman's comments, but no such thing happened.
Morgan Night, the former owner of the trailer camp in Hicksville close to Joshua tree in California, also took the stand last Tuesday.
Heard claimed that Depp became jealous when she was hugged by another woman who was high on ecstasy while at the camp in 2013. She also said he did a "cavity search" on her private parts, searching for cocaine, during an argument between them later that night and even trashed the trailer.
Night's testimony told a different story. He said Heard was "acting jealous and crazy," that Depp was the one "cowering and almost afraid," and that he even became quieter after Heard shouted at him.
He said Depp had rented the place for a group of ten to twelve people and was "super excited about the place, really complimentary," but that Heard was "pretty quiet" when they arrived.
He mentioned that later that day, one of the innkeepers brought her guitar out, and he, the innkeeper, and Depp were having a nice conversation about music and books when Heard "came over and interjected." Night said he had a "gut reaction" that she was annoyed.
He described another occasion when he talked to Depp, and Heard "came over, and she said 'I wanted to talk to you' and seemed really upset about something."
He continued: "I went back in the house because they went off on their own, and she started yelling at him and I didn't want to hear it. It was really triggering because I've been in an emotionally abusive relationship before. She was upset at him, yelling at him. He was cowering and seemed almost afraid, and it was really odd to see because he was older than her, but I just went back in the house."
The next time Night saw Depp, he said Depp apologized profusely and said, "I'm sorry about that," but became "more and more quiet."
Night also admitted that Depp was swaying and was less sharp than before, while Heard appeared intoxicated.
Night also admitted that there was some "commotion" in Depp and Heard's trailer and that the following day, he knew something was damaged. After investigations, only a $62 light fixture was damaged, not the whole trailer as Heard claimed.
Depp's lawyers contacted Night at the beginning of May, and Judge Penney allowed him to testify after she asked him how much of the case he had seen, and he said he had seen only one clip about the trailer park.
Heard's lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, cross-examined him. She asked: "You're a pretty big fan of Johnny Depp?"
He responded: "I am not."
Then she asked: "You wanted to participate in this trial, didn't you?" He said that he only wanted to tell the truth.
Bredehoft also asked about a tweet Night sent to a user named The Umbrella Guy on April 21 after Depp testified about what happened at Hicksville. Night admitted to sending the tweet about Amber being the one "acting all jealous and crazy."
Another person who testified for Depp was Jennifer Howell, a former friend of Amber Heard's sister, Whitney Henriquez.
She appeared via video deposition and said she never saw Depp appear intoxicated or take illicit drugs; neither was she ever told by Heard that Depp was abusive.
Camille Vasquez, Depp's lawyer, asked: "Do you feel any particular sense of loyalty toward Mr. Depp?"
Howell responded: "None at all. I loved someone who I knew was doing something very wrong," she said. "And I knew that they're doing it because they're trying to protect their sister. And I'm trying to protect her. And I'm just trying to get her to wake up and do the right thing, which is tell the truth."