According to new testimony in Johnny Depp’s ongoing defamation trial against Amber Heard, audiences can apparently thank Jason Momoa for Heard’s reprised role in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Per the Daily Mail, entertainment-industry expert Kathryn Arnold testified Monday that Heard was able to stay in the upcoming sequel only because Momoa and director James Wan “committed to her” and were “adamant she was in the film.” Heard starred in the first Aquaman as Mera, a warrior princess who is Aquaman’s love interest (and, at least in the DC Comics, his future wife). Arnold testified that in the first draft of the follow-up film, Mera had a “strong romantic arc” and an action sequence that Heard spent several months training for. According to Arnold, the sequence was cut and the role itself was “radically reduced” by the time Heard got to the set.
Heard claimed earlier in the trial that her appearance in Aquaman 2 was “pared down” after one of Depp’s lawyers called her abuse allegations against Depp a “hoax.” Heard’s agent stated in previous testimony that she was told that her client’s smaller part was due to “lack of chemistry” with Momoa. But Arnold countered this explanation, testifying that Heard was hired by Warner Bros. after doing a chemistry test with her co-star. Per Arnold’s analysis, Heard’s career was once on trajectory for a “meteoric rise” comparable to the paths of Momoa, Zendaya, Gal Gadot, and Chris Pine. Arnold estimated that Heard’s losses from the “hoax” statement from Depp’s lawyer were between $45 million and $50 million in other productions and endorsement deals. Arnold added that fans began a “negative social-media campaign” using Depp’s lawyer’s words. This included a petition to remove Heard from the Aquaman sequel, which has now garnered more than 4.3 million signatures.
Momoa has not publicly commented on Heard’s role in the sequel or his potential involvement in securing her said role. Per The Independent, some fans have claimed Momoa followed Depp on Instagram during the ongoing trial, but it’s not clear exactly when that happened. Momoa currently follows both Depp and Heard on the platform. If he does want to address the trial or the testimony about him before the movie hits theaters, though, he should have plenty of time: Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom isn’t expected to release until March 17, 2023.