The ongoing Johnny Depp–Amber Heard defamation trial centers on Depp’s claim that Heard’s abuse-detailing Washington Post op-ed hurt his career, but according to the actor’s former agent, Depp did much of that on his own. In her testimony, United Talent Agency’s Tracey Jacobs claimed that Depp’s “unprofessional behavior,” including lateness and substance abuse, made Hollywood studios reluctant to cast him in recent years.
Though Depp long reigned as “the biggest star in the world,” “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. At one point, the actor even began relying on an earpiece to have his lines fed to him.
“Crews don’t love sitting around for hours and hours waiting for the star of the movie to show up,” Jacobs testified. “It also got around town. People talk. It’s a small community. It made people reluctant to use him toward the end.” The agent added that people were talking about Depp’s alcohol and drug use as well.
Jacobs’ testimony proved in direct contradiction to Depp’s main argument, which is that Heard’s op-ed — which did not name Depp as her abuser, but fit the timeline of previous allegations — inspired a Hollywood boycott. The actor claimed he was cut from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise shortly after the column, losing out on a huge chunk of change: According to agent Jack Whigham, Depp was slated to receive $22.5 million for reprising his role as Jack Sparrow in a new Pirates of the Caribbean film. Jacobs testified that her former client was paid $25 million upfront with backend compensation for 2017’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the last installment Depp completed before being fired from the franchise.
When asked whether Depp has starred in a major film since the 2017 Pirates installment, Jacobs said he was considered for The Invisible Man but that Universal ended up making it “at a much lower budget with a woman.” He last appeared in the film Minamata, which director Andrew Levitas complained was being buried due to Depp’s abuse allegations (MGM sold the North American rights to the film, which subsequently did not receive a US theatrical release until a year after originally scheduled.)
Disney production executive Tina Newman also contradicted Depp’s case with her testimony, in which she said she wasn’t aware of Heard’s column playing a role in the company’s decision not to produce another Pirates film. Instead, she cited emails between Disney executives Sean Bailey, Alan Horn, and Alan Bergman that discussed issues with Depp on and off set.