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Earlier this week, big-time movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“Top Gun,” “Bad Boys,” “Black Hawk Down”) revealed he would like to cast the most obvious but least likely actor to star in a possible sixth edition of his “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise: Johnny Depp.
“I would love to have him in the movie,” Bruckheimer told The Hollywood Reporter of the actor, who played Captain Jack Sparrow in five “Pirates” movies. “He’s a friend, a terrific actor, and it’s unfortunate the personal lives creep into everything we do.”
But a knowledgeable film-industry player views that as a long shot. “I think he will have a career but I don’t see him being redeemed,” the player said of the actor. “I think big-name people in Hollywood will steer clear of him.”
To recap, Depp’s personal life over the past few years has included accusations by his ex-wife Amber Heard of domestic violence — allegedly slapping and hitting her, throwing her across a room, ripping off her nightgown and sexually assaulting her with a glass bottle — and the revelation that he texted “Let’s burn Amber” to his “The Tourist” and “Mortdecai” co-star, Paul Bettany.
(Depp has denied ever physically abusing Heard.)
It all led to him losing roles in the “Fantastic Beasts” and “Pirates” franchises.
Despite the fact that Bruckheimer might welcome him to the “Pirates” cast, the film-industry player has his doubts about it actually being possible: “Disney is the most scandal-averse of the studios because of their brand and theme parks.”
It didn’t help that when Depp and Heard squared off in court earlier this year — accusing each other of defamation — his shocking alleged lifestyle was revealed. On the stand, the actor seemingly found it difficult to remember the movie franchises that made him a star. Photos showed him allegedly passed out due to intoxication, including one of him on the floor with his head tucked in a nightstand and another with melted ice cream all over his lap. He was alleged to have downed a zip-lock bag full of random pills “to see what would happen.”
Testifying, ex-lover actress Ellen Barkin called Depp “jealous,” “controlling” and “demanding” and claimed he once threw a bottle of wine in her direction.
Hollywood producer and consultant and advisor Kathryn Arnold said on the stand that reports of Depp’s poor work habits made it harder for Hollywood to financially back him. “We talked about the erratic behavior, the tardiness, the drugs and alcohol abuse,” Arnold testified. “And the lawsuits have had a really big impact, not just this lawsuit but previous lawsuits that Mr. Depp has been involved with because there’s a lot of publicity around anything he does.”
Although the courtroom decision was in his favor — with a jury ordering Heard to pay him more than $10 million in damages — by then, enough had been exposed and alleged for Depp to be shunned by Hollywood.
“There are different levels of shunning,” the player told The Post. “[Depp] is not at the Kevin Spacey level. My guess is that he is more in the Mel Gibson range. The international audience will be happy to see him in things and probably a lot of people in the United States as well.
“But I can tell you something about both of those guys [Depp and Gibson]. If you bring them up in the dominant studio world [as candidates to anchor a film], it is not a no, but it is a question: ‘Who else do you have?’”
Taking it further, the player believes that Depp will have a career moving forward — just not necessarily in Hollywood.
“He’ll continue to do movies financed in the international market, financed with foreign production companies,” the player predicted. “The deals will come from people who are third or fourth tier. They show up with a lot of money and it all goes to the star. You saw that at the end of Bruce Willis’s career. You see that in terms of John Travolta.”
Lately, revealed a Depp insider, “He has not spent a lot of time in Hollywood. He’s been in Europe a lot — mostly London.
“There has been a lot of interest in Johnny and very warm receptions to different ideas.”
In fact, the insider explained that a sense of normalcy is creeping back into Depp’s career.
“The formal end [of litigation with Heard] makes it easy to move forward,” the insider said. “Johnny just finished the French movie [‘Jeanne du Barry,’ in which Depp plays King Louis XV] and then there is the Pacino project he is attached to.”
The latter, which Pacino will co-produce and Depp will co-produce and direct, is in pre-production according to IMDB. Entitled “Modigliani,” the biopic is set in 1916 Paris and tells the story of artist Amadeo Modigliani. Via a release quoted in Variety, Depp described Mogliani as having “a life of great hardship but eventual triumph.”
Meanwhile, reports from the French film set of “Jeanne du Barry” made it sound like Depp is as prickly as ever.
“Johnny Depp is an excellent actor when he comes on the set,” French showbiz commentator Bernard Montield said on the talk-show TPMP. “Except that sometimes the team is ready at 6 a.m. and no one comes. So, afterward, Maïwenn [the director, who goes by just one name] gets angry and the next day, it is she who does not come and there is Johnny Depp. It’s madness … They’re pissed off. It’s going very, very badly. They argue constantly.”
That movie, according to IMDB, is now in post-production.
Depp has also popped up in some surprising places off-screen: touring with guitarist Jeff Beck, selling his artwork as NFTs and making a November cameo in Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show (which generated backlash from the singer’s fans).
As much as Depp’s career future is uncertain, Heard has her own challenges. Variety reported that rumors she was cut from “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” were not true, but right now she only has that movie and an Italian-produced project, “In the Fire,” listed on IMDb — and both films are already wrapped.
“I felt that Amber’s career was already on a downswing [before the trial],” said the player. “I don’t think she’ll not work again. But she is not Jennifer Lawrence. And the trial did not help.”
Still, she likely needs to work. On Dec. 19, the actress agreed to pay a $1 million settlement to Depp. As reported in The Post, the payment is said to come from Heard’s insurance company — but it is just a sliver of the more than $10 million she was ordered to pay her ex.
“Johnny is giving the money to charity,” said the insider, although the insider was currently unsure as to exactly which charity will be on the receiving end. “One key moment from the trial was when [Heard] said she pledged [her $7 million divorce settlement] to charity and never gave it. Johnny is actually going to give [away] the money … The point is that she is full of s–t.”
Heard’s lawyer said in 2021 that the actress was still in the process of giving away the money, but after the 2022 trial revealed that Heard is broke.
One thing she might not do is write a juicy tell-all about her time with Depp.
“There is a judgment in place,” a legal source in Depp’s circle told The Post. “And that makes it difficult for her to say anything that disparages him.”
Nevertheless, in a statement posted to Instagram after the settlement, Heard wrote: “There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.”