Johnny Depp’s former agent recounted on Thursday the destruction of the actor’s career and reputation stemming from his issues with alcohol and drugs.
United Talent Agency’s Tracey Jacobs told jurors in Depp’s ongoing defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard that the actor went from “the biggest star in the world” to a liability that studios were wary of due to his “unprofessional behavior.”
Depp had become notorious for regularly showing up late to set and holding up filming, Jacobs testified. At one point, the actor had to start wearing an earpiece to have his lines fed to him.
“His star had dimmed due to it getting harder to get him jobs given the reputation he had acquired due to his lateness and other things,” Jacobs said, adding that “people were talking” about his substance abuse.
The testimony directly contradicted one of Depp’s central allegations against his ex: that a December 2018 op-ed Heard wrote in The Washington Post led to him being boycotted by Hollywood. He’s claimed that he was cut from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise shortly after the column — which didn’t name him specifically but described “domestic abuse” in a time frame consistent with their marriage — was published.
On Thursday, Jacobs detailed Depp’s immense popularity before his issues, which she attributed to alcohol and drug use, became a dealbreaker for studios.
Depp was paid $25 million upfront with backend compensation for starring in 2017’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, according to Jacobs. She said his deal for Murder on the Orient Expressreleased the same year, netted him “$5 million for four consecutive weeks [of work] plus a great backend, which he has received significant money on subsequently.”
Asked whether Depp has starred in a major film since Depp fired her in 2016, Jacobs said he was considered for The Invisible Man but that Universal ended up making it “at a much lower budget with a woman.”
“Initially, crews loved him because he was always so great with [them],” Jacobs said from the stand, “but crews don’t love sitting around for hours and hours waiting for the star of the movie to show up. It also got around town. people talk It’s a small community. It made people reluctant to use him toward the end.”
Further contesting Depp’s alleged injuries as a result of Heard’s op-ed, Disney production executive Tina Newman testified that she wasn’t aware of the column playing a role in the company’s choice not to move forward with another installation in the pirates franchise. She pointed to emails among Disney executives Sean Bailey, Alan Horn and Alan Bergman discussing issues with Depp on- and off-set.
Depp’s current agent, Jack Whigham, previously tested that Depp was slated to be paid $22.5 million for reprising his role as Jack Sparrow in the sixth pirates movie, but that Disney went in a different direction after Heard’s op-ed.
Following his role as evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald in Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts franchise being recast, Depp hasn’t appeared in any major studio films. His most recent movie Minamata, secured a US theatrical release a year after its originally scheduled date. Director Andrew Levitas complained that MGM, which held the North American rights to the film, was burying Minamata because of the abuse allegations against Depp.
The jurors were also shown the deposition of Adam Waldman — one of Depp’s lawyers, who was thrown off the case after leaking information covered by a protective order to the press — regarding his role in an alleged smear campaign launched against Heard, by Depp, after she publicly alleged that he abused her.
Heard’s lawyers tried to get Waldman to admit to making statements to the press on behalf of Depp claiming that Heard’s claims of abuse were a hoax, but he was largely able to evade the questions by citing attorney-client privilege.
In one statement to The Daily Mail, Waldman claimed that Heard “set Mr. Depp up by calling the cops,” referencing a visit from law enforcement to the couple’s house, after which Heard refused to press charges against Depp for domestic abuse. He said in another, “We have reached the beginning of the end of Ms. Heard’s abuse hoax against Johnny Depp.”
Asked whether he had reason to believe Heard was lying, Waldman pointed to witnesses who’ve tested “in various forms at various times that there were no injuries to her face” following an incident in May 2016 in which Depp allegedly threw a phone at Heard and beat her. Depp has argued that Heard faked her injuries, which were used to obtain a domestic violence restraining order.
Waldman added that videos and photographs provided to him by Marilyn Manson, a close friend of Depp’s, “demolished” Heard’s claim that the actor beat her on Thanksgiving in 2013.
The jurors also heard testimony from Joel Mandel, Depp’s former business manager. He detailed the collapse of the actor’s finances after his spending had grown “untenable.” This followed testimony from Jacobs, in which she recounted an instance in 2016 of Depp demanding $20 million from UTA, which agency partners Jeremy Zimmer and Jim Berkus refused. UTA subsequently secured him a loan.
Depp sued Mandel and his other former managers for $25 million in 2017, accusing them of stealing money from him. Joel and Robert Mandel’s The Management Group countersued, claiming that Depp spent millions of dollars on multiple homes, wine and private jets, among other expenses that they advised him he could not afford. (The cases were settled in 2018.)