Johnny Depp Just Hit A Setback In Lawsuit Against Amber Heard As Trial Date Approaches

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and Amber Heard as Mera
(Image credit: Warner Bros., Disney)

Celebrity couples have a way of capturing the attention of the public, and this is especially true when there’s a messy divorce involved. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard know this all too well, as they’ve been battling in court for years, making headlines for their arguments and the involvement of other celebrities. Depp just hit a setback in his lawsuit against Heard as the trial date approaches, so buckle up.

The legal battle between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp has gone from the U.K. to stateside, and both actors have their own suit against the other. The Pirates of the Caribbean actor has been suing his former partner for defamation, based on an op-ed she wrote in 2018 detailing her experience with domestic violence. This has seemingly resulted in his career setbacks. But Depp’s team recently hit a setback, as they sought a ruling that would bar Heard’s lawyers from claiming immunity. According to The Guardian, the judge ultimately sided with Heard on this matter. Let’s break down what this all means.

This new information came from the court this past Thursday, where the latest twist on the Depp/Heard case occurred. The actor’s team was aiming for a ruling that Amber Heard couldn’t invoke an anti-SLAPP law. Said law protects people from nuisance lawsuits when addressing matters of “public concern.” Depp’s team argued that it was a private conflict, but the aforementioned judge ultimately ruled differently.

Amber Heard’s team reportedly argued against this, specifically mentioning that Johnny Depp’s name was never mentioned in her controversial op-ed. They also claimed that the story was a “public matter” as it aimed to bring light to issues about domestic violence. That point seemed to have stuck, as the judge denied the request from Depp’s lawyers.

To clarify, this doesn’t mean that the two actors aren’t going to trial. Amber Heard wasn’t given immunity from the charges. But her team will be able to argue using the aforementioned point about domestic violence being a public issue. It remains to be seen how the defamation case actually turns out. Although we may be getting more information as the trial gets closer.

At the time of writing, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are set to start the next stage in their legal battle on April 11th. While there’s still the possibility of it being pushed back again, the two stars may be meeting for a formal trial soon. Considering how many wild claims the former pair have made about each other, smart money says sparks are going to fly– especially once they each testify in court.

In the same report, it’s also mentioned that Amber Heard is filing a defamation counterclaim against Johnny Depp. Specifically this is related to comments that Depp’s lawyer has made about the Aquaman star. There’s clearly no end in sight for the ongoing legal saga, as the teams representing both Heard and Depp aren’t backing down.

A source close to Depp's team issued a response to this latest shake-up, which reads:

This is not a major victory. Simply, it means Mr. Depp would potentially be responsible for covering her legal fees should she win - though not guaranteed. Mr. Depp has had many preliminary wins throughout this process and his team remains confident ahead of the upcoming trial.

Despite petitions to the contrary, Amber Heard can next be seen in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom on March 17th, 2023. Johnny Depp may have been fired from Fantastic Beasts 3, but he’s got a new movie project in development. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.