Film Exec Confirms What Fans Suspected About Amber Heard And Jason Momoa's On-Screen Chemistry

Who knew that the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp legal drama would pay "Aquaman 2" so much lip service? After a report surfaced in early May that Heard's role in the superhero sequel involved "less than 10 minutes of screen time," per TMZ, the actor seemingly confirmed this in her trial testimony on May 16. Heard alleged that, following her allegations of domestic abuse against Depp in 2016, Depp's "sophisticated PR machine" launched a "smear campaign" that caused her role in "Aquaman 2" to be significantly diminished. "I had to fight really hard to keep my career..." Heard testified, per IndieWire. "I fought to keep my job and the biggest movie opportunity I had to date [with] 'Justice League' with the option to [star in] 'Aquaman [2].'" 

Backing up Heard's side of the story was industry consultant Kathryn Arnold, who testified on May 23 — as an expert witness hired by Heard's team — that social media backlash "instigated" by Depp's former legal team allegedly cost Heard big paydays, per the Daily Beast. "It can get very messy to continue working with an actor ... if there's a lot of negative social media around," Arnold stated, adding that if not for the bad press, "Ms. Heard should have earned between $45 and $50 million [over five years]." 

However, amid all the controversy, rumors swirled surrounding Heard's relationship with Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa. On May 24, Warner Bros. exec Walter Hamada seemingly confirmed that there was at least some truth to the speculation.

WB exec gives testimony contradicting Amber Heard's claim about Aquaman 2 role

Taking the stand on May 24, president of DC Films Walter Hamada testified that Amber Heard can only blame her lack of chemistry with "Aquaman" costar Jason Momoa for her reduced screentime in the upcoming sequel. "They didn't really have a lot of chemistry together," Hamada told Heard's lawyer under cross-examination. "The reality is, it's not uncommon on movies for two leads to not have chemistry. And then it's sort of movie magic and... a great score and how you put the pieces together." However, Hamada stated, while "they look like they have great chemistry[,] I just know that through the course of the post-production, it took a lot of effort to get there." 

Heard retained her $2 million paycheck for the film's sequel, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," per Variety. However, as she previously claimed in court, Warner Bros. "basically took a bunch out of my role" following her abuse allegations, per IndieWire. Hamada testified to the contrary, maintaining that Heard's role remained constant since pre-production in 2018. "A big part of our philosophy was we were going to hold people to their options," Hamada said.

Heard's agent also testified earlier in the trial that the actor was never given the opportunity to renegotiate for a higher salary after "Aquaman"'s blockbuster success. Hamada disputed this as well, stating that he made it a point to not let actors automatically renegotiate salaries for sequels. 

Amber Heard said Jason Momoa ripped pages out of her personal books

But don't just take a big-time film exec's word for it. Amber Heard appeared on "Good Morning America" in 2018 and talked about her time on set with co-star Jason Momoa. While discussing her love of reading books in between takes she recalled how Momoa would go to desperate measures to get her attention. "He adopted this method of ripping out the pages of my book so I would pay attention to him," she recalled. "It would drive me crazy because I'd have 30 pages left and it would be gone." Some might argue that ripping out pages of your co-star's book would make for less than stellar on-screen chemistry.

Alas, Amber Heard wouldn't be the first actor to be accused of having bad on-screen chemistry with a co-star. Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson drew harsh criticism for what some critics considered to be bad chemistry in the 2022 rom-com "Marry Me." According to film critic Mick LaSalle, "Owen Wilson tries hard, but he's no match for Jennifer Lopez." Yikes.

Some argue that chemistry is subjective

Perhaps Amber Heard should've looked to none other than industry-heavy-hitters Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone when it comes to the chemistry department. "They — for me — feel like the closest thing that we have right now to an old Hollywood couple, like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn or Fred and Ginger or Myrna Loy and Dick Powell," director Damien Chazelle once gushed to Entertainment Weekly. "There's something about the recurrence of Ryan and Emma as a couple and about them individually as actors and the way they register onscreen — the timeless glamour that they're capable of."

Still, many argue that chemistry and the idea as to whether co-stars have it or not are merely subjective. "I would argue that on-screen chemistry can never be regarded as objective or absolute: the real nature of it is always very much in the eye of the beholder," former actor Pamela Stephenson Connolly wrote in a piece for The Guardian in 2016.

All this to say, the jury in the Johnny Depp defamation trial clearly has their work cut out for them.