In a 129-page ruling last week, Judge Andrew Nicol of the High Court in London dismissed the former “Pirates of the Caribbean” star’s libel claim against the UK newspaper The Sun over a 2018 article that referred to Depp as a “wife beater” in connection to domestic-abuse allegations leveled by his ex-wife Amber Heard. The judge found that the article was “substantially true.”
During the high-profile trial — a 16-day blockbuster — Depp and Heard’s turbulent 15-month marriage was picked apart with excruciating detail, and the excesses of Depp’s toxic, drug-fueled lifestyle were laid bare.
Depp’s career was on a downward trend before any allegations of domestic abuse
Depp first found fame on the hit ’80s TV show “21 Jump Street.” He ascended to Hollywood stardom with Tim Burton’s cult-favorite film “Edward Scissorhands” in 1990, starring alongside Winona Ryder, a future partner.
Over the next few decades, he won acclaim for his roles as misunderstood, brooding loners and anti-heroes in films such as “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” “Donnie Brasco,” and “Sleepy Hollow.”
Since 2003, Depp has been perhaps best known as the mischievous Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise. Depp was nominated for an Oscar in 2004 for his work on the first film, “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” and by 2015, with the fifth installment of the series, Depp was estimated to be earning about $55 million per film. The “Pirates” films, thanks to Depp, were a jewel in Disney’s box-office playbook; the five movies made a combined $4.5 billion worldwide.
But over the past few years, Depp has failed to reach similar box-office heights. New offerings such as “Transcendence,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “Dark Shadows” — directed by Burton, a longtime collaborator — tanked among critics and disappointed at the box office, signaling that the public had grown tired of his gothic shtick.
While Depp’s films have earned more than $4 billion domestically over the decades, experts said he might have reached the end of his road.
“I predict his career may never recover,” Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor, told Insider. “Disney has lost interest in Depp for its ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise, and I can’t imagine any other major studio wanting to work with him. He’s going to be the next Harvey Weinstein.”
Warner Bros. wanted to split from Depp even before he lost his libel case
Days after the libel trial, Depp said he had been “asked to resign by Warner Bros.” from the “Fantastic Beasts” series.
Stacy Jones, the CEO of Hollywood Branded, a pop-culture influencer and branded-content marketing agency in Los Angeles, told Insider that while Warner Bros. appeared to move quickly in distancing itself from Depp after the trial, the plan to ditch the actor “was in fact a very well-orchestrated plan, built over time with the lead-in to the trial.”