Amber Heard was almost removed from Aquaman 2 before Jason Momoa and director James Wan fought to keep her on.
During the high-profile Johnny Depp libel case, entertainment consultant Katherine Arnold (via The Wrap) testified that Heard was almost booted from the Aquaman sequel due to negative publicity surrounding the case.
“In February 2021, there were conversations that Amber’s, I’m going to be technical with you, her option for employment was not going to be exercised. So, they may not have hired her again,” Arnold said. “Her management team fought very hard, and they ultimately ended up hiring her, but not only because of what her management did, but also because star Jason Momoa and director James Wan committed to her.”
Heard previously claimed that her Aquaman 2 role was “pared down” following her split with Johnny Depp.
According to Arnold, Warner Bros. was ready to fire Heard from the upcoming sequel to shed any negative publicity associated with the ongoing case.
However, Warner Bros. chief Walter Hamada said that’s not the case.
“They didn’t have a lot of chemistry together,” Hamada said as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
Hamada claims that this lack of chemistry is what led Warner Bros. to consider booting Heard.
“At the end of the day when you watch the movie, it looks like they have great chemistry,” he explained. “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.”
Asked directly if Heard’s role was ever “reduced,” Hamada confirmed that it wasn’t.
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He explained that the upcoming sequel was always conceived as a “buddy comedy” between Aquaman and his half-brother, King Orm, played by Patrick Wilson. And it had been that way “from the very early stages of development”.
Aquaman 2 stars Jason Momoa as DC’s underwater superhero alongside Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, Temuera Morrison, Dolph Lundgren, and Jani Zhao.
James Wan directed the film based on a script by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.