Johnny Depp wins in the defamation case and capitalizes on his trial fame

Johnny Depp was the focus of public attention for six consecutive weeks during his televised trial against Amber Heard in defamation -- and it seems the actor is not looking to be taken from the national spotlight.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
09 June 2022 Thursday 12:39
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Johnny Depp wins in the defamation case and capitalizes on his trial fame

Johnny Depp was the focus of public attention for six consecutive weeks during his televised trial against Amber Heard in defamation -- and it seems the actor is not looking to be taken from the national spotlight.

After a Fairfax County jury of seven members sided with Depp's high-profile legal case against Heard, the actor has been flooding social media with new creative ventures.

He set up a TikTok profile, which had more than 11,000,000 followers as of Thursday morning. He promoted his NFT project Never Fear Truth on Instagram, selling a Marlon Brando portrait in ethereum cryptocurrency. Depp's 59th Birthday was celebrated by the Instagram account, which teased "celebrations” on Discord, a messaging service.

Depp also revealed a new album that he had recorded with Jeff Beck over the past three years. Beck is an English rock guitarist who welcomed Depp on stage during jury deliberations in the United Kingdom.

Brooke Erin Duffy is an associate professor at Cornell University who studies social media, the creator economy, and gender identity.

Duffy stated that Depp's reputation management will be impacted by the outcome of the trial. "I believe this is a very calculated self branding machine."

Depp, who was married to Heard in 2015, and later divorced in 2017, testified during the trial that he had lost "nothing but everything" after Heard published an essay in 2018. Heard called herself a "public figure representing domestic violence."

Although Depp was not mentioned in the essay, Depp's lawyers claimed that it refers to accusations Heard made against him during their 2016 separation.

Duffy stated that she understood Depp's recent rise in social media activity to be a form "deflection", a way to shift attention away from troubling allegations at the core of the trial to more divisive topics like his paintings of Keith Richards and Heath Ledger.

Heard, who was a witness during the trial, spoke out in strong terms about an alleged assault on his sex and other incidents of physical abuse that he suffered over many years.

Two years ago, Depp lost a libel suit in the United Kingdom over claims that he had physically abused Heard. Justice Andrew Nicol ruled against Depp, stating that the British tabloid had provided substantial evidence showing that Depp had been violent against Heard at least 12 times out of 14.

Depp denies all allegations of abuse.

In his case against Heard, Depp was awarded $15 million by the Virginia jury. Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate reduced Depp's punitive damages to $350,000, the state's legal cap or legal limit. This made his total damages $10.4million. Heard, who had countersued was awarded $2,000,000 in compensatory damages and $0 in punitive damage.

Duffy stated that the [defamation] trial has ended and that Depp is not on the defensive. Instead of continuing to engage in these discussions, he is looking outwards and trying a stronger creative presence to defy the realities of the trial and its implications.

Depp's defenders, some of whom rallied under #JusticeforJohnny, will likely welcome his new media pursuits. One communications expert warns that there are potential risks that the branding campaign after the verdict could backfire.

"The upside to Depp flooding the area with all his projects is that he already has a lot media momentum and is now capitalizing," Eden Gillott (president of Gillott Communications), a crisis communications company that represents athletes, celebrities, and businesses.

She said, "The risk is these new projects will remind people of the allegations" and that critics would have shiny new targets to aim at.

TikTok, NFTs and all that, Depp's stardom in the film industry is still at stake. He was once a reliable hit-maker at the heart of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean", and other success stories.

The Oscar-nominated actor seemed to be losing his stardom in Hollywood, especially after the success of "The Lone Ranger" (and "Transcendence"), which were both commercial failures.

According to IMDbPro (a subscription-based website that industry professionals use), he is not scheduled to appear in any films this year. He also has only one movie in preproduction.

Howard Breuer, a PR veteran, told NBC News that there will be factions in Hollywood that will be cautious about working with him as long as they are aware there are people who believe Amber Heard is telling the truth.

Depp will be a key interview subject for "Boston George," a five-part documentary series on George Jacob Jung, a suspected drug dealer. Depp was also a character in the 2001 crime drama, "Blow." The series will debut on Fandor's streaming service in July.

Experts believe that Depp is setting himself up for a future in which he is less dependent on Hollywood and corporate-linked production companies for work or exposure.

Instead, he could connect directly to admirers via social media without the intervention of talent agents or studio chiefs.

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