Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom director James Wan responded for the first time to allegations that Amber Heard’s role in the film was “paired down,” as the actress has put it.
“I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go. The first Aquaman was Arthur (Jason Mamoa) and Mera’s (Heard) journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm (Patrick Wilson),” Wan told EW recently. “So, the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie. We’ll leave it at that.”
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Heard, in her testimony during her trial with ex-husband Jonny Depp, said, “I was given a script and 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, and they basically took a bunch out of my role. They just removed a bunch out.”
She also testified that her role was “very pared down.”
Former DC boss Walter Hamada gave testimony at the trial that seems to line up with Wan’s statement.
“The character’s involvement in the story was what it was from the beginning,” Hamada said of Mera’s prominence in the film. He called it a “buddy-comedy” sequel, with Momoa and Wilson as “co-leads.”
Heard’s agent testified her role was reduced because of “the lack of chemistry between her and Jason.”
With the benefit of a little hindsight, Deadline asked Heard earlier this year if she were excited about the sequel. Heard told Deadline, “Aquaman, that franchise and the machinery behind it, I’m very honored, honored to be a part of that.”
In the context of adversity faced by The Flash and Black Adam – not to mention rumored reshoots, pandemic-induced release date changes and now subsequently Wan’s own health scare earlier this month – Heard said, “There’s a ton of pressure on these big franchise movies, with millions and millions of dollars at stake, and compromises are part of trying to make it the most successful thing it can be.”
In July 2021 on the Deadline Hero Nation podcast, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom producer Peter Safran was asked whether the social media campaign by Johnny Depp fans for Amber Heard’s removal from the DC sequel ever had any influence on the production and their casting decisions.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to react to, honestly, pure fan pressure,” said Safran.
“You gotta do what’s best for the movie,” continued Safran, “We felt that if it’s James Wan, and Jason Momoa, it should be Amber Heard. That’s really what it was.”
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is set to hit theaters December 20.
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