Amber Heard was almost flushed from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. And no it’s not because of the on-going defamation trial between her and ex-husband Johnny Depp.
Warner Bros. Pictures executive and President of DC’s film and TV division Walter Hamada testified today that the studios considered recasting the actress simply because she did not have chemistry with lead star Jason Momoa.
“They didn’t have a lot of chemistry together,” Hamada said.
“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. At the end of the day when you watch the movie, it looks like they have great chemistry. 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.”
Heard first made her DCEU debut in 2017’s Justice League as Mera, the princess of the underwater kingdom of Xebel. She later reprised her role in Momoa’s solo outing, Aquaman and stayed on to do the movie’s sequel too.
According to Heard’s team, the actress struggled to keep the role due to the negative publicity received from Depp’s allegations against her. The actress added that she “fought really hard to stay in the [sequel]” but that “they didn’t want to include me in the film” and only shot a “very pared-down version” of her part.
“I had to fight really hard to keep my career,” testified Heard. “After I got my temporary restraining order, I lost opportunities. I got cancelled from jobs. I got dropped from a campaign I had shot. I fought to keep my job in the biggest movie opportunity I had to date — Justice League, with the option [for] Aquaman.”
“I was given a script, then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it, that depicted my character and another character — without giving any spoilers away — two characters fighting with one another,” Heard said. “They basically took a bunch out of my role. They just removed a bunch.”
Mera plays a very large role in Aquaman’s story as she acts as his mentor and love interest so it was likely that Warner Bros. intended her to have a relatively large part to play in the franchise’s sequels but changed plans. Hamada stayed firm that the actions taken were purely editorial decisions to enhance the upcoming Aquaman sequel in an effort to make the best film possible.
“It was the concerns that were brought up at the wrap of the first movie, which was the issue of chemistry, did the two have the chemistry? I think editorially they were able to make that relationship work in the first movie, but there was a concern that it took a lot of effort to get there and would we be better off recasting, finding someone who has better, more natural chemistry with Jason Momoa and move forward that way?” he asserted.
Hamada also revealed that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was never meant to be a romantic co-lead film like the first movie.
Asked directly if Heard’s role was ever “reduced,” Hamada said it wasn’t. The sequel, he said, was conceived “from the very early stages of development” as a “buddy comedy” between Aquaman and his half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson).
Rumour has it that Heard’s screen time in the sequel has been reduced to a mere 10 minutes. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen when Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom releases on 17 March 2023.