Who’s the real loser in the Depp-Heard libel case?
It will be a financial blow for the actor no doubt, if studios drop him, considering he is tottering on the edge of bankruptcy.
The road to perdition, they say, is paved with good intentions. When Johnny Depp decided to go hammer and tongs at the publishers of The Sun after taking umbrage over their 2018 article titled: Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film after assault claim? many were bewildered. After all the Pirates of the Caribbean star was Hollywood’s classic bad boy whose hedonistic lifestyle fuelled by cocaine binges and booze-driven highs wasn’t exactly classified stuff.
Was it an attempt to revive his flagging career? An ill-advised move from his legal team? An endeavour to protect the brand of one of Hollywood’s most iconic performers? Or did the Edward Scissorhands star genuinely believe that his inner coterie including ex-wife Amber Heard was immune to the ill-effects of the self-destructive mode he had embarked on when he bought into his own celebrity hood?
If it was the latter the reality check must surely be enough to send him on a bender. Because let’s not gloss over it anymore, murmurs, whispers and even outright comments about the self-indulgent, jet-setting lifestyle of the rich and the famous might make for salacious copies, but in the case of Depp, it was never in dispute. With reportedly 14 fully staffed residences around the world, 40 full-time employees including security guards working for him at any given time, 45 luxury cars at his disposal, 70 collectable guitars, bespoke jewellery, an expensive art collection comprising over 200 pieces, innumerable Hollywood memorabilia, Depp was never one to bury himself in the sands of anonymity. In 2017 he famously filed a lawsuit against his business managers whose financial mismanagement he alleged cost him a cool 500 million pounds.
Post the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, he has not been able to mount any other productions (Fantastic Beasts 3 shoot is set to clash with his other defamation suit against Amber Heard regarding her op-ed piece in the Washington Post) to fund his lavish “two million a month” lifestyle. Way back in 2017 there were reports of his misbehaviour on the sets of the Pirates movies, Dead Men Tell No Tales, which is usually the death knell as far as the career prospects of a washed up, once-upon-a-time-talented pinup, is concerned.
So early this week, when the London High Court, ruled in favour of the publishers of The Sun, which in essence means, yes, Depp, the ‘pretty boy’ of the 80s who once drove teens wild with frenzy, did assault his wife on 12 different occasions and can hence be legally referred to as a ‘wife-beater’ it probably came as a shock to no one, except surprisingly the actor’s legal team.
Truth is Depp had carved out a niche for himself as an edgy, misunderstood, unlucky-in-love act so well, it is hard to dislodge him even as he fumbles his way through a series of atypical roles. His appearance at the recent court hearings in designer glares and artfully draped scarves with his signature dishevelled look in place won more applause than the chic look of his nemesis. Heard’s self-assurance and confidence ironically made her the cynosure of misogynistic online attacks, because of the general tendency to withhold victimhood from those who appear empowered. The verdict has been hailed by human rights activists as a landmark victory in a post-Covid society that saw an alarming rise in domestic violence cases against women.
According to PR guru Mark Borkowski “the Depp brand faces a very uncertain future. To get his career back on track, would be the equivalent of scaling Mt Everest without oxygen, barefoot and in his underpants.” At the same time he cautions, “do not right man off.” Stranger things have happened and who knows, his huge fan base “might help to rebuild something from the wreckage of defeat.”
It will be a financial blow for the actor no doubt, if studios drop him, considering he is tottering on the edge of bankruptcy. The tragedy much like in any glamorous industry is when one surrounds oneself with yes men, who are more likely to hold up the pin up from the heydays than an actual mirror that reflects the harsh truth.
But the real losers here are Depp’s die-hard fans pushing out #JusticeForJohnny on Twitter, refusing to accept that the boy they helped raise to dizzying heights of stardom could come tumbling down so ungracefully. Real men, however cool they may appear to be, don’t beat women, do they? At least not on record.
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