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Legal experts argue Depp and Heard face uncertain career odds post-trial

A jury found actor Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard were both defamed in the couple’s seven-week defamation case. 

Despite wins for both sides, legal experts argue their continuing careers will be tainted by the headline-breaking trial that opened a Pandora’s box into their personal lives.

“From a reputation-management perspective, there can be no winners,” said Eric Rose, a crisis management and communications expert. “They’ve bloodied each other up. It becomes more difficult now for studios to hire either actor because you’re potentially alienating a large segment of your audience who may not like the fact that you have retained either Johnny or Amber for a specific project because feelings are so strong now.”

Depp had originally sued Heard for $50 million after a 2018 op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post alleged Depp had domestically abused her during their marriage. The op-ed never named Depp directly. 

CELEBS REACT TO DEPP-HEARD VERDICT

Depp maintained that he had never hit her throughout their marriage, painting Heard as the abuser in their home. New York family attorney Brett Ward stated Depp came off as a believable witness throughout the trial, admitting to his drug and alcohol abuse and his difficult nature. 

Depp’s responses and reactions took the internet by storm, with fans and trial viewers making videos of the actor’s testimonies. However, Ward argues the actor also ran the risk of unintentionally making his testimony the highlight of his professional career. 

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in Fairfax, Virginia, court.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in Fairfax, Virginia, court.
(Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz/Pool)

“He says he did this for his children. Having watched the whole trial, I don’t think that he did any service to his children by airing all of this dirty laundry,” Ward said. 

The jury ultimately awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, siding with him on all counts. Judge Penney Azcarate reduced his punitive damages award to $350,000 per Virginia law, rounding in Depp’s total damages award to a little over $10 million. 

Heard also came out with a win, with the jury finding she was defamed as well and awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages. The jury found that one of Depp’s lawyers, Adam Waldman, had defamed her when stating she had staged an alleged assault. 

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Depp posted a statement to social media shortly after the verdict was read, grateful for the outcome and the expectation of his life back to normalcy. 

“And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled. My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought,” Depp wrote. 

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Heard also released a statement in conjunction with the verdict, voicing her disappointment with the jury’s decision. 

“I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of freedom of speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the U.K. I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly,” she wrote. 

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Heard’s upcoming projects include the “Aquaman” sequel to be released next year. Depp, currently in the U.K., is expected to seek out new roles following the trial. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Haley Chi-Sing is a Fox News Digital production assistant. You can reach her at @haleychising on Twitter.

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