3:47pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Producer Hits Back on Amber Heard Sexploitation Claim With Johnny Depp Accusations
In a lawsuit delving into Hollywood nudity, the gloves are off. On Monday, London Fields producer Christopher Hanley got highly personal with Amber Heard, the actress who stars in his still-not-yet-released film based on Martin Amis' celebrated novel. In new court documents, the producer addresses Heard's relationship with her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, suggesting that the actor was jealous and contributed to the film's behind-the-scenes strife by pressuring Heard to pull support of provocative scenes.
Nicola Six Limited, the production company behind London Fields, originally brought 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 promote London Fields at the Toronto International Film Festival. The actress, in response, filed counterclaims against Hanley and his wife, Roberta. According to the explosive cross-complaint, the Hanleys secretly shot nude and sex scenes with a body double for Heard in alleged violation of the actress' Nudity Rider. What's more, Hanley supposedly held onto "continuity photos" of Heard in various states of undress after filming.
Now, it's Hanley's time to speak up. He's filed an "Answer," which 99 times out of 100, is a boring document that recites a litany of denials and some broadly stated affirmative defenses. Count this in the one percent category.
"Amber Heard should be ashamed," opens the preliminary statement.
"Plaintiff was understated in the Complaint's allegations against Heard," continues counter-defendant's attorney, Mathew Rosengart. "Plaintiff even noted the possibility that Heard's misconduct during and after filming might have resulted, at least in part, from her tumultuous relationship with Mr. Depp, which was ongoing during the filming of London Fields. Heard has made numerous fantastical accusations against Depp, and reports of her alleged affair with co-star Billy Bob Thornton became so pervasive that Thornton issued a public denial. Indeed, while generally concealed from Plaintiff at the time, Plaintiff is now informed and believes that the provocative nature of Heard's femme fatale role in the film was a factor leading to her divorce from Depp."
In the cross-complaint, Heard asserts her privacy has been invaded and claims that she would never would have agreed to footage she deems "pornographic."
Hanley's court papers respond that this is Heard's "ironic effort to portray herself as a 'victim'... contradicted by the documentary evidence, including the governing contracts and Heard's own contemporaneous (pre-lawsuit) statements to the Hanley's and others through early-mid-2015..."
Heard, who previously starred in Zombieland, is described in the latest papers as having "understood and embraced the role" of a promiscuous psychic and knew it would include some nudity. But the upside was worth it, Hanley suggests. Rosengart writes, "Although she had some moderate success prior to the London Fields casting process, the lead 'Nicola Six' role was by far Heard's biggest to date, and she hoped it would be her breakout performance, converting her into a major, leading actress."
Hanley attempts to rebut the "sexploitation" claim by contending the film "contains minimal nudity (and obviously no 'porn,' as Heard incorrectly alleged), nor does it portray Heard in any nude scenes outside the scope of her Nudity Rider, which she negotiated and for which she received payment."
The producer is involved in a separate lawsuit with Mathew Cullen, the director of London Fields, over creative decision-making and money. But here, Hanley says both were on the same page when it came to certain matters pertaining to Heard.
"Indeed, Cullen and Hanley commiserated at length over Heard's behavior," writes Rosengart. "By way of illustration only, when Heard refused to act in conformance with the script — and with her contract — Director Cullen e-mailed Hanley that he was 'meeting with Amber tomorrow and will discuss and be clear. I am aligned with you and it is quite a surprise the degree she is speaking.'"
One of the risqué scenes provoking controversy between the parties involves a woman police officer, a woman detainee on the hood of a car and a police baton. Hanley says the scene was shot by Cullen.
"In any event, although she told the Hanleys that her ex-husband Johnny Depp (who had no cutting rights) would not approve of certain scenes or of her overall provocative performance, Heard herself approved of those scenes on several occasions," states the answer. "Heard later reversed course, apparently under perceived or actual pressure from Depp (who, according to Heard, was extremely jealous) and Cullen ..."
Rosengart adds, "[W]hether under the guise of supporting the film's director who was terminated or whether under pressure from Depp (or both), Heard breached her contracts and sabotaged Plaintiff's valuable film property, causing Plaintiff millions of dollars in damages. Her smear tactics and belated, fantastical allegations (worthy of her 'dangerous' character 'Nicola Six') do not change any of these facts, and she must be held to account — at her forthcoming deposition — for her meritless Cross-Complaint."
Heard's attorneys respond, "Desperate people say desperate things. The utter failure of London Fields is due to only one reason: the producers themselves. The Hanleys destroyed the movie by interfering with the production process, changing the story line, and generally making the movie an unreleasable artistic fiasco.
"No respectable actor would promote this piece of garbage," they add. " If the Hanleys were as adept at producing London Fields as they are at spinning audacious lies about Amber, her peers and co-stars, they would have a hit on their hands. We are eager to have a Los Angeles jury compare these sleazy operators with Amber and the other conscientious cast and crew. The verdict against the Hanleys will be staggering."