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Amber Heard is the latest to face court action over London Fields, a film based on Martin Amis‘ celebrated novel, once set to make a splash at the Toronto International Film Festival only to be stuck in legal purgatory without a distributor. On Monday, the film’s producers sued Heard, who stars in the picture as a promiscuous psychic about to be murdered.
More than a year ago, the debut of London Fields at Toronto prompted controversy with much of the movie’s talent refusing to show up in support. Mathew Cullen, the film’s director, sued Christopher Hanley’s Nicola Six Limited for fraud, claiming producers hijacked the final cut of the movie. Hanley struck back with counterclaims accusing Cullen of failing to deliver the film on budget and on time. Adding to the intrigue were news report how London Fields might have been a factor in Heard’s divorce from Johnny Depp, who has a small role in the movie.
Now, Heard is facing claims of breaching contract and committing tortious interference. (The complaint, which can be read here, also briefly nods to the film’s supposed role in the Heard-Depp divorce.)
“While the inherent tension between actors and directors (on the one hand) and producers (on the other) is nothing new in Hollywood, the unauthorized and unlawful acts of Heard, Cullen, and others — most notably, their campaign to damage Plaintiff, the Picture, and the Picture’s investors — are perhaps unprecedented,” states the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. “Indeed, as a result of their misconduct, which continues to this day, the very promising Picture remains in limbo, hijacked and placed under a cloud by Heard, Cullen, and others.”
According to the complaint, Heard disregarded contractual obligations by failing to render acting services in conformity with the shooting script and later by refusing to attend the Toronto premiere or engage in other promotional services. She’s also charged with conspiring with Cullen to violate his contractual agreements.
Cullen has made it clear that he’s unhappy with the producers’ cut of the film, which according to his lawsuit, included “incendiary imagery evoking 9/11 jumpers edited against pornography.”
The actors are clearly supporting Cullen, and the latest lawsuit against Heard discusses some of the background drama on London Fields, which has been cursed from inception in more ways than one.
For example, the suit against Heard discusses what happened in November 2014, upon submission of the movie to the Sundance Film Festival.
“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,” states the complaint. “Heard also falsely claimed that she had not granted Nicola Six the right to the results and proceeds of her acting services in the Picture.”
Producers say that various agreements provided such rights and allowances, and that objections to the contrary were part of a conspiracy to undermine the film.
“As a result of Heard’s refusal to comply with her contractual obligations — including her improper refusal to act in provocative scenes contained in the pre-approved script — key scenes in the script had to be removed and/or rewritten to accommodate Heard’s behavior,” continues the lawsuit.
Afterwards, Heard is alleged to have refused to participate in dialogue replacement, and by mid-2015, she and the film’s other stars including Depp and Billy Bob Thornton are said to have forwarded their correspondence with Hanley to Amis. According to the complaint, “This act, along with Heard’s other disclosures of confidential information, was in violation of Heard’s agreements with Nicola Six … in which she promised not to disclose confidential information regarding the Picture or Nicola Six.”
The producer is represented by Mathew Rosengart, a former prosecutor now at Greenberg Traurig, who is seeking at least $10 million in compensatory damages.
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