A traditional storytelling device is the dramatic arc of a rags-to-riches-to-rags story.
In that narrative, a character of humble origins rises to fame, wealth and privilege, only to lose it all through hubris and the machinations of fate.
In the weird Hollywood saga of Johnny Depp, the once-embattled star is updating the trope to “rags to riches to rags to riches again.” After the public revelations of Depp’s court battle with his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, Depp’s career resurgence is apparently continuing with reports of a multi-year, seven-figure deal to continue as celebrity spokesmodel for Dior’s Sauvage cologne.
The Johnny Depp defamation case against Heard, and Heard’s countersuit, was a dramatic media sideshow of the spring.
On June 1, NBC News reported that “Mark Goldman, the other head of Goldman McCormick PR, said the trial — televised across the U.S. for more than a month and breathlessly chronicled online — conditioned regular viewers to expect Depp on their screens, even though the circumstances were far from entertaining.”
Depp sued Heard over a 2018 Washington Post column in which Heard claimed she suffered physical and sexual abuse during a relationship. In his lawsuit, Depp alleged Heard smeared him with those accusations, although she did not mention him by name. The Post has kept the column available for viewing, but it now includes a statement regarding the defamation trial’s outcome.
On June 1, the jury found Heard liable for defaming Depp. Depp was awarded compensatory damages of $10 million, and $5 million in punitive damages.
The jury did award Heard $2 million for compensatory damages on one of the counterclaims of defamation she filed.
Depp sued after he lost high-profile film roles after Heard’s allegations became public. He was removed from Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, and was asked to “resign” from the fantasy Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts 3.”
French fashion house Dior did not jump on the bandwagon in the initial backlash against Depp.
The U.K.’s Guardian reported that Dior maintained an endorsement relationship with Depp that started in 2015. Even in 2020, after a British court dismissed Depp’s libel claim against British tabloid The Sun for calling him a “wife beater,” Dior featured Depp in a U.K. television ad for its Sauvage fragrance.
Dior seems to have made a good decision. The Heard defamation trial appeared to have vindicated Depp and restored his reputation.
According to a report on the entertainment site Movieweb in May, “Audio recordings, witness testimony, and other evidence presented in the trial has seemingly gotten the majority of the public on Depp’s side. On social media, many Depp fans have been lambasting Disney and Warner Bros. for cutting ties with the actor over unproven allegations. At the same time, the hashtag #ThankYouDior has been consistently trending. That’s because, throughout it all, Dior has maintained its relationship with Depp which includes prominently featuring the actor in promotional materials for his own special fragrance, Sauvage.”
Depp’s contract renewal with Dior suggests he is comfortable with the company’s loyalty.
By contrast, Depp is apparently not forgetting how Disney turned on him. Despite rumors he was negotiating to rejoin the blockbuster “Pirates” franchise, Depp testified during the Heard trial he would not return even for “$300 million and a million alpacas.”
In a battle that was based largely on one woman’s claims of victimhood, Depp prevailed largely because he convinced the jury — and much of the public — he was making a difficult stand for “truth.”
“From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that,” Depp said in a post-trial statement.
The trial’s focus on truth, instead of allowing a mere unproven accusation to be enough to in a court of law, may have defused the #MeToo movement. Extremists demanded we “believe all women” who have alleged abuse, even without evidence. That attitude did not prevent Heard from losing the case.
Depp’s career recovery could be a sign that credibility still matters.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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