Johnny Depp's Legal Team Took A Big Step Forward Battling Libel Case Verdict

For several years now, Johnny Depp has been entangled in legal battles both directly and indirectly tied to his split from ex-wife Amber Heard, and in early November 2020, he was dealt a major setback. Depp lost his libel case against The Sun in U.K. court over the publication describing him as a “wife beater.” Depp and his team of lawyers planned to appeal this ruling, and now they’ve taken a big step forward on that front.

Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Underhill announced that Johnny Depp and his legal team have been granted an oral hearing that will happen sometime between March 15 and 31for approximately two hours, during which time “further evidence” can be adduced. Deadline reports that Amber Heard’s legal team has until February 21 to provide reasons for opposing this appeal, at which point Depp’s team will have until February 28 to counter.

Although Johnny Depp’s side was able to prove elements of a libel claim in its legal battle with The Sun, the case was ultimately dismissed, with the judge finding that the newspaper’s statements about Depp in one of its stories about his tumultuous relationship with Amber Heard to be “substantially true” after hearing Heard’s testimony. A few weeks later, it was reported that Depp had to pay £628,000 in legal costs to The Sun, which roughly converts to over $840,000. He and his team had until December 7 to file for an appeal, so with the oral hearing forthcoming, we can deduce they filed on time.

Along with having to play nearly $850,000, Johnny Depp losing his libel case also cost him professionally. After the ruling came in, Warner Bros requested that he resign from the role of Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts film series, and he obliged. Despite having only shot one scene for Fantastic Beasts 3, Depp was paid his full salary, while Mads Mikkelsen was hired to take over as Grindelwald.

Of course, this libel case appeal is just one of several legal battles Johnny Depp is currently engaged in. Later this year, Amber Heard’s defamation case against Depp will move forward in Virginia state court, with the case focusing on a countersuit the Aquaman actress filed alleging that Depp tried to ruin her career by deploying social media bots against her, which is in violation of the Virginia's Computer Crimes Act. Depp and his legal team have called this case a “hoax,” but that didn’t help with attempting to get a bid for immunity from the Virginia court.

More recently, it was reported that Amber Heard’s legal team filed a subpoena requesting information pertaining to Johnny Depp’s time playing Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Heard previously claimed that Depp took her “hostage” during that shoot, and now, not only does she want someone from Disney to be involved in a virtual deposition to discuss his behavior during that period, but her team has requested documentation from the Mouse House that recorded “incidents of drug or alcohol use,” any instances of tardiness or delays and “any incidents of violence or abuse by Mr. Depp.” Although the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is continuing through both another main movie and a spinoff, there are no plans for Depp to reprise Jack Sparrow.

To summarize, both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard will continue to be locked in legal conflict for some time, and we here at CinemaBlend will keep you apprised of any major developments on those fronts. Depp’s latest movie, Minamata, arrives on February 5, while Heard can currently be seen playing Nadine Cross in CBS All Access’ The Stand.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.