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But according to DC Films chief Walter Hamada, her job wasn’t imperiled for the reason the actress has claimed, and the studio did not reduce her role along the way.
Hamada testified at Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation lawsuit on Tuesday that the studio considered for several weeks recasting Heard as Mera in the upcoming film Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Hamada said the studio’s concern was about the lack of chemistry between Heard and Jason Momoa, who stars as Aquaman.
“They didn’t have a lot of chemistry together,” Hamada said. “The reality is it’s not uncommon on movies for two leads to not have chemistry and it’s sort of movie magic and editorial — the ability to put performances with the magic of a great score and how you put the pieces together, you can fabricate that chemistry. At the end of the day when you watch the movie, it looks like they have great chemistry. But I just know that through the course of postproduction, it took a lot of effort to get there. Sometimes you just put characters together on the screen and they work. It’s like what makes a movie star a movie star. You know it when you see it. The chemistry wasn’t there. … This one was more difficult because of lack of chemistry between the two.”
Heard’s team has claimed that her struggle to stay in the Warner Bros. sequel stemmed from negative publicity due to Depp’s abuse allegations against her.
“I had to fight really hard to keep my career,” Heard testified May 17. “After I got my temporary restraining order, I lost opportunities. I got canceled from jobs. I got dropped from a campaign I had shot. I fought to keep my job in the biggest movie opportunity I had to date — Justice League, with the option [for] Aquaman.”
The actress added that she “fought really hard to stay in the [sequel]” but that “they didn’t want to include me in the film” and only shot a “very pared-down version” of her part.
“I was given a script, then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it, that depicted my character and another character — without giving any spoilers away — two characters fighting with one another,” Heard said. “They basically took a bunch out of my role. They just removed a bunch.”
Hamada testified Tuesday that Aquaman 2 was never meant to be a romantic co-lead film like the first movie.
Asked directly if Heard’s role was ever “reduced,” Hamada said it wasn’t. The sequel, he said, was conceived “from the very early stages of development” as a “buddy comedy” between Aquaman and his half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson).
All that said, Hamada noted the original Aquaman still worked, and said that test audiences rated Heard highly. He also said that filming the sequel with Heard went smoothly. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is set for release on March 17, 2023.
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival