‘Broke’ Amber Heard can’t pay Depp after losing defamation trial

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Actress struggling due to ‘lavish spending, on travel, clothes, gifts and wine,’ source says

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A seven-person jury might have awarded Johnny Depp $15 million in his defamation suit against his ex-wife Amber Heard, but he’ll be hard-pressed to collect.

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During an appearance on NBC’s TODAY show this week, Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft said the actress “absolutely” cannot pay Depp.

According to sources speaking to the New York Post, Heard has been left “broke” by her hefty legal fees and is struggling after “lavish spending, on travel, clothes, gifts and wine.”

Insiders told the Post that Heard had to heavily rely on her homeowners insurance policy to cover the cost of her legal team in the case.

Heard is estimated to be $6 million in debt, according to the Celebrity Net Worth.

Depp, 58, sued Heard, 36, for $50 million, accusing her of libelling him with the op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The three-time Oscar nominee claimed her article ruined his career and led to a series of cancelled film projects, including a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean instalment.

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Heard hit back with her own $100 million counterclaim after the star’s former lawyer called her allegations a hoax. Both accused one another of ruining their respective careers.

In this screen grab from video, Amber Heard, centre, and her lawyers Elaine Bredehoft, right, and Ben Rottenborn, left, react as the verdict is read in the courtroom in the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
In this screen grab from video, Amber Heard, centre, and her lawyers Elaine Bredehoft, right, and Ben Rottenborn, left, react as the verdict is read in the courtroom in the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Wednesday, June 1, 2022. Photo by Court TV /Associated Press

A Virginia jury ruled in Depp’s favour this week, agreeing that Heard defamed him and ruined his career when she penned the 2018 op-ed. The Edward Scissorhands star was awarded $15 million.

At the same time, the jury also found that Depp, through his former lawyer Adam Waldman, libelled Heard in one of three counts in her countersuit and awarded her $2 million.

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During the six-week trial, Heard testified that her career had stalled after Depp accused her of abuse. She earned $1 million for the first Aquaman film and $2 million for a sequel, but she said that a social media campaign to have her dropped from the franchise led to a “very pared-down version of that role.”

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“I was given a script and then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it,” she said. “That depicted my character and another character … fighting with one another. They basically took a bunch out of my role.”

Heard also alleged that she was dumped from her role as a spokesperson for L’Oreal and pocketed just $65,000 for an independent movie she filmed in March of this year.

A petition calling for the removal of Heard from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom reached 4.5 million signatures by Friday.

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Kathryn Arnold, an entertainment industry consultant, likened Heard’s career to stars like Gal Gadot and Zendaya and claimed she missed out on millions from lost TV and movie projects. She was in consideration for Michael Bay’s Ambulance and a Prime Video series with Gael Garcia Bernal, Arnold said. Her part in Aquaman 2 is limited to a few scenes at the beginning and the end.

After her divorce from Depp was finalized in 2016, Heard said in a statement that “the amount received in the divorce was $7 million and $7 million is being donated.” The money was supposed to be split between the the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

But Terence Dougherty, chief operating officer of the ACLU, said that as of December 2021 the organization had only received $1.3 million in her name. When the ACLU reached out to her about future donations, Dougherty said they “learned she was having financial difficulties.”

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A representative of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles said the organization only ever received $250,000 directly from Heard.

Bredehoft said, “(Heard) has always said she fully intends to continue to give the full $7 million, but she can’t do it yet. She will do it when she can. But she has given a significant amount.”

When she took the stand, Heard claimed that she wasn’t able to fulfil her promise because Depp had sued her, adding that she planned to still donate the full amount.

“I would love him to stop suing me so I can,” she said.

Virginia lawyer Jeremiah Denton told the Post that Depp could “garnish” her wages and “get to her assets, sell them and take cash.”

Heard’s reps said they had no comment on the reports that she’s broke.

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Johnny Depp gestures as he walks out of the courtroom during a break at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Johnny Depp gestures as he walks out of the courtroom during a break at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Photo by Brendan Smialowski /Associated Press

It’s unclear whether Depp will actually force Heard to pay up. The actor hasn’t been part of a movie since 2019’s Minamata.

But last month, fans rejoiced when his name was listed among those set to appear in Beetlejuice 2.

“I think Johnny Depp is going to work again. He’s going to get some big project,” Clayton Davis, senior awards editor at Variety, told Reuters.

“We have a culture that allows these people to work again,” Davis added.

His return for another Pirates film is also something not totally out of the question.

“I absolutely believe post-verdict that Pirates is primed for rebooting with Johnny as Capt. Jack back on board,” a former Disney exec told PEOPLE. “There is just too much potential box-office treasure for a beloved character deeply embedded in the Disney culture.

“With (producer) Jerry Bruckheimer riding high on the massive success of Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick, there is huge appetite for bringing back bankable Hollywood stars in massively popular franchises.”

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