Amber Heard has dismissed rumours she is due to be ousted from the Aquaman franchise in the wake of her involvement in ex-husband Johnny Depp’s libel battle with The Sun.
The star, who played Mera in the 2018 Aquaman movie, told EW that “paid campaigns” on social media will not prevent her taking up her role in the sequel, which will see director James Wan return alongside Jason Momoa as the title character.
A petition online calling for Heard’s removal has garnered more than a million signatures.
Heard said: “Paid rumours and paid campaigns on social media don't dictate [casting decisions] because they have no basis in reality.
“Only the fans actually made Aquaman and Aquaman 2 happen. I'm excited to get started next year."
Watch: Jason Momoa teases Aquaman 2 idea
Rumours of Heard’s departure from the franchise had been swirling online, in the wake of Depp relinquishing the role of Gellert Grindelwald in Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts franchise.
During Depp’s legal action against The Sun — related to an article in which the paper called him “a wife beater” — allegations were made that Heard was also violent towards him.
Read more: How the Depp ruling will affect his career
The judge ruled in favour of The Sun, though the Pirates of the Caribbean actor has signalled his intent to appeal.
Fans of Depp have suggested that Heard should be forced to leave her role as a result of the allegations, with the online petition claiming she was guilty of abuse against her then-husband.
Heard said production on the marine sequel is due to get underway in 2021.
She added: “I'm super excited about the amount of fan love and the amount of fan appreciation that Aquaman has acquired and that it has garnered so much excitement for Aquaman and Mera that it means we'll be coming back."
Aquaman 2 is currently set for a release date in December 2022, with horror-inflected spin-off movie The Trench also in development.
At the DC FanDome event earlier this year, Wan teased that the new movie will be “a little bit more serious and a little bit more relevant to the world we’re in today”.
The Conjuring filmmaker also hinted that “new worlds” would be explored in the sequel, taking the ocean ecosystem into different areas.
Read more: Jason Momoa flies the flag for Snyder Cut
Helped along by broadly positive critical notices, Aquaman was a huge success at the box office, earning $1.15bn (£874m) worldwide.
Momoa’s Aquaman — and likely Heard as Mera as well — will be seen again next year when the epic Snyder Cut of Justice League arrives on HBO Max in four, hour-long chunks.
Watch: Trailer for 2018 movie Aquaman