Amber Heard, the actress who plays Mera in the DC superhero film Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, was reportedly on the verge of being fired from the sequel due to her ongoing legal battle with her ex-husband Johnny Depp and her lack of chemistry with her co-star Jason Momoa. However, she was able to keep her role thanks to a “scorched-earth letter” sent by her former boyfriend Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla and SpaceX, to Warner Bros., the studio behind the film.
According to Variety1, Warner Bros. and director James Wan wanted to drop Heard from the sequel as early as 2018, after the release of the first Aquaman film, which grossed over $1 billion worldwide. The studio even sent a letter to Heard’s attorney, Karl Austen, to inform him of their decision.
However, Musk, who dated Heard from 2017 to 2018, intervened and had one of his litigators send a letter to Warner Bros. threatening to “burn the house down” if Heard was not brought back for the sequel. A source familiar with the situation told Variety that Musk’s letter was “very aggressive” and “made it clear that there would be consequences” if Heard was fired.
Amber Heard’s role in Aquaman 2 was also jeopardized by her defamation case with Depp, who sued her for $10 million after she wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post in 2018 about being a survivor of domestic abuse. Depp claimed that Heard had falsely accused him of violence and harmed his career. He won the case in May 2022 and received $10 million in damages from Heard.
During the trial, Heard testified that she fought hard to stay in the film and that the studio “didn’t want to include me in the film”. She also revealed that Momoa wanted her fired and that he showed up drunk on set and dressed up like Depp. Her therapy notes, which were used as evidence in the trial, read: “Jason said he wanted me fired. Jason drunk — late on set. Dressing like Johnny. Has all the rings too.”
A spokesperson for DC denied these allegations and said that Momoa had “conducted himself in a professional manner at all times on the set of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”. A source who was on set also said that Momoa was not drunk or dressed like Depp, and that he “has always dressed in that bohemian style”.
Wan, who also directed the first Aquaman film, was also said to have antagonized Heard and raised his voice at her, blaming her for the negative publicity surrounding the film. However, former DC Films boss Walter Hamada said on the stand that Wan and Momoa were both “adamant” that Heard remain in the film.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which is scheduled to hit theaters on December 20, 2023, follows Arthur Curry (Momoa) as he faces a new threat from his nemesis Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and teams up with his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson).
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