‘Aquaman 2’ Director, Jason Momoa Allegedly Blamed Amber Heard for Movie’s Struggles

Therapy notes and unnamed sources suggest Momoa and James Wan were both hostile to Heard and tried to remove her over her legal fight with ex Johnny Depp.

‘Aquaman 2’ Director, Jason Momoa Allegedly Blamed Amber Heard for Movie’s Struggles
Photo:Presley Ann (Getty Images)

A bombshell new Variety report out Tuesday portrays a chaotic Aquaman 2 set that saw Amber Heard, who plays DCU’s Mera, “treated like a pariah” because of her legal fight with ex Johnny Depp. (Depp accused Heard of defaming him by alleging he’d abused her in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed that does not name him.) Per the report, Aquaman 2 director James Wan was openly hostile to Heard as he blamed her for barriers to promoting the movie, while Jason Momoa, who plays Aquaman, allegedly wanted Heard fired.

Since the trailer for Aquaman 2 came out earlier this year, the movie has faced significant backlash from Heard supporters who say her once-significant role in the franchise was minimized due to the controversy surrounding Heard and Depp. Heard testified as much during her trial in 2022, and she appears in a single frame in Aquaman 2‘s two-minute trailer. Variety also writes that therapy notes between Heard and her therapist detailing tension on set became public after Depp supporters paid court fees for the documents to be released. The notes went viral on Reddit and overshadowed the trailer’s release last month.

Heard didn’t give comment to Variety but a source close to her confirmed the notes are from a therapy session in December 2021 while Heard was filming Aquaman 2. “Jason said he wanted me fired,” the notes say. “Jason drunk—late on set. Dressing like Johnny [Depp]. Has all the rings too.” The notes also mention Wan and his treatment of Heard: “He raised his voice @ me—‘I can’t even post about Aquaman’—made it like it was my fault—I said ‘I’m sorry,’” the notes say in reference to Wan. “Nobody could take selfies with me on set given blackout.” Throughout filming and post-production the movie was heavily protested by Depp supporters who shared viral petitions calling for Heard’s removal. That Heard’s therapy notes are public at all, largely because Depp fans fought so hard to obtain them, according to Variety, is a testament to the harassment that Heard, in particular, faced.

It’s not fully clear what Momoa’s alleged issue with Heard was, though the therapy notes make it clear enough that Heard felt she was punished by the director for Aquaman 2’s publicity struggles because of her legal fight with Depp. It was, of course, Depp who sued Heard, subjecting her to prolonged public humiliation and a pervasive online harassment campaign. Heard accused Depp of physical violence, rape, and emotional abuse, particularly while he was drunk.

The therapy notes offer a disturbing glimpse of how, instead of receiving support from her workplace while at the center of a toxic harassment campaign, Heard felt thrown under the bus by a director and co-star who seemed to capitulate to Depp fans’ demands. Variety reports that there was a significant internal push to remove Heard from the role citing “chemistry” problems between her and Momoa, despite how Heard had been required to pass a “chemistry” test with Momoa to get the role in the first place. She was nearly removed until lawyers for Elon Musk, who was dating Heard at the time, sent Warner Bros. a “scorched-earth” letter “threatening to burn the house down” if Heard lost the role, a source told Variety.

Wan and D.C. declined to comment on Heard but D.C. offered glowing words for Momoa, praising the actor for “treating members of his cast and crew with the utmost respect and for fostering a positive, collaborative environment on set.” Another source who worked on the Aquaman 2 set denied that Momoa purposely dressed like Depp, explaining that Momoa has “always dressed in that bohemian style.” (Notably, the therapy notes don’t show Heard accusing Momoa of dressing like Depp on purpose, only that she observed similarities that may have been triggering.)

Heard previously testified in May 2022 that she had to “fight really hard” to keep her role as Mera after she obtained a restraining order against Depp. She further testified that Warner Bros. “didn’t want to include me” in Aquaman 2, and though they eventually moved forward with her, she found herself in only a “very pared-down version” of the original story planned for Mera. “I was given a script and then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it… they basically took a bunch out of my role,” Heard said.

“I lost opportunities. I got dropped from jobs and campaigns. I fought to keep my job and the biggest movie opportunity I had to date [with] Justice League with the option to [star in] Aquaman,” she explained. “I had to fight really hard to stay in Justice League because that was the time of the divorce.”

Both Heard’s testimony in 2022 and Variety’s report paint yet another bleak, deeply saddening picture of how survivors of abuse can often face professional and financial ramifications in the aftermath. And this retaliation, often in the form of defamation suits like the one Heard faced from Depp, can bleed into all other parts of survivors’ lives.

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