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Will Amber Heard return to Aquaman 2 after defamation trial? Here’s what we know

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A petition to entirely remove Amber Heard from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom officially reached its target of 4.5 million signatures this week.

Two days after a jury ruled in favour of Johnny Depp in the couple’s highly publicised defamation trial, the petition’s target has been bumped to 6 million signatures.

Fluctuations in the size of Heard’s role in the forthcoming DC sequel have been the subject of persistent rumours, but they also became a topic of contested testimony in the Depp-Heard trial, which concluded on 2 June.

Heard said on the stand that her Aquaman 2 role was significantly pared down after her ex-husband’s team called her abuse claims a “hoax”.

“I fought really hard to stay in the movie. They didn’t want to include me in the film,” she testified. According to one unconfirmed Hollywood report, Heard appears for less than 10 minutes of the movie’s final cut.

DC film head Walter Hamada was also called to testify in court about Heard’s diminished screentime. He contradicted her legal team’s claim that the role was altered as a result of the allegations against Depp.

“The size of the role in the film that she has was determined in the early development of the script,” Hamada said at trial, citing a lack of chemistry between Heard and the film’s lead Jason Momoa as the reason behind her cut down screentime.

Despite the online petition meeting its previous target of 4.5 million signatures, no one attached to the film or DC has made a public statements about the possibility of Heard being recast in or removed from Aquaman 2.

 (DC)
(DC)

The film is now due to hit theatres in 2023 after an unspecified delay.

James Wan, the film’s director, has alluded to the fact that the extra time is being used to complete special effects work. Other DC titles, such as Black Adam and DC League of Super-Pets, have experienced similar delays.

Only one of Heard’s co-stars from the Aquaman franchise has spoken publicly and substantially about working with her on the films. Dolph Lundgren said: “She was great. I worked with her on the first Aquaman, now the second one. We shot last fall in London. She’s terrific, I had a great experience with her.

“She’s very kind, nice to the crew, nice to everybody, just down to earth. She had her newborn baby with her on set with the nanny which was kind of cute."

Amber Heard and Jason Momoa in Aquaman (Warner Bros/DC/Kobal/Shutterstock)
Amber Heard and Jason Momoa in Aquaman (Warner Bros/DC/Kobal/Shutterstock)

The online petition for Heard’s removal from the film first gained traction in November 2020, reaching 1.5 million signatures following Depp’s exit from the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

In July 2021, Aquaman 2 producer Peter Safran commented on the growing appeals to remove Heard from the movie. “I don’t think we’re ever going to react to, honestly, pure fan pressure,” Safran told Deadline of the decision to retain Heard for the sequel.

He continued: “We felt that if it’s James Wan, and Jason Momoa, it should be Amber Heard. That’s really what it was.”

Representatives for DC Films did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

You can find more updates on The Independent’s live blog here.

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