London Fields, the film based on Martin Amis‘ celebrated novel, never got a release after director Mathew Cullen and the film’s actors staged a publicity boycott at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, but the film has prompted several lawsuits including a new explosive counter-complaint from actress Amber Heard.
Producer Christopher Hanley, who is behind the production company Nicola Six Limited, is fighting on several fronts including against Cullen, and last November, he filed a $10 million claim against Heard for allegedly disregarding contractual obligations by failing to render acting services in conformity with the shooting script and later by refusing to attend the TIFF premiere.
On Thursday, Heard responded by telling a judge, “This case shines a spotlight on the dark underbelly of Hollywood.”
In a cross-complaint targeting Hanley and his wife Roberta, the actress’ attorney continues, “Amber Heard is the latest victim of this lascivious and sexploitive couple. A rising film star, Heard agreed to play the lead in the motion picture entitled London Fields based on Martin Amis’s novel. After reading the script, she insisted on specific restrictions about nudity and sex scenes in the film as a condition to agreeing to appear in the Movie. Hanley … expressly agreed to Heard’s terms, and they were memorialized in the Nudity Rider to her contract.”
According to Heard, she conferred with Cullen about the sex scenes, and the “Director’s Cut” complied with her deal. But Hanley allegedly took the film into his own hands and fired Cullen and rather than pay those who worked on the movie, Heard says funds were used to create a “Producer’s Cut” that included unauthorized sexual images and vulgar scenes.
“The Hanleys also caused to be filmed secretly several additional nude and sex scenes with a body double for Heard and included them in the ‘Producer’s Cut’ — also in violation of the Nudity Rider,” states the cross-complaint. “The secret filming of this body double footage was not on the schedule that had been provided to Heard and was shot with a skeleton crew only after Heard had completed filming and had left the set. The body double footage included an explicit pornographic sex scene that Heard would never have agreed to do herself. … The body double footage was designed and intended to leave anyone who saw the images with the distinct impression that it was Heard.”
The original complaint by Nicola Six acknowledged a dispute over nudity. According to the plaintiff, “In an effort to intimidate Nicola Six, Heard falsely claimed to Nicola Six that she had not contractually agreed to allow the use of nudity in the Picture.”
According to Heard, the “pornographic” body double scene involved a woman police officer, a woman detainee on the hood of a car and a police baton.
But that’s not all.
The actress also claims that Hanley demanded being provided with “continuity photos” of Heard during filming. The photos are said to serve the purpose of ensuring that actors and actresses have makeup in a manner that is consistent from scene to scene.
“Such photos can include various states of undress during wardrobe changes,” continues the cross-complaint. “There is no legitimate business purpose for Hanley to have such photographs after filming was concluded, and the Hanleys had and have no rights to use such photographs for any proper purpose after filming ended. The Hanleys‘ prurient interest in exploiting Heard — both on and off camera — speaks volumes about their values.”
Heard is now cross-claiming for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, tortious interference, misappropriation of the right of publicity, invasion of privacy by public disclosure of private facts, fraud and deceit and more. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages plus a permanent injunction to prohibit distribution of the version of London Fields that allegedly violates her rights.
The litigation threatens to go places even beyond nudity in Hollywood. The original complaint included the suggestion that London Fields might have been a factor in Heard’s divorce from Johnny Depp, a reference to gossip reports about Heard and co-star Billy Bob Thornton, potentially opening up some discovery into whether there’s an alternative theory besides unauthorized sex scenes about why Heard pulled support.
“The Cross-Complaint is a work of fiction, worthy of Ms. Heard’s London Fields character ‘Nicola Six,’ and it marks the latest in a series of fantastical allegations she has made, including in connection with her high-profile divorce,” says the plaintiff’s attorney Mathew Rosengart in reaction to Heard’s latest filing. “It is nothing more than a meritless smear tactic designed to distract from her own misconduct.”
Rosengart adds, “Seeking the limelight, Ms. Heard excitedly signed onto the starring role in London Fields, co-written by Roberta Hanley and esteemed novelist Martin Amis, and then for her own reasons, she illicitly tried to change the role and hijack the movie. Chris Hanley has an established track record as a supportive, talent-friendly producer, which makes the allegations all the more absurd. We look forward to taking Ms. Heard’s deposition shortly, when she will have to account, under oath, for her claims and misconduct.”