Amid the trial of Johnny Depp's defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, fans of the actor have ushered undying support for the Pirates of the Caribbean star. As of publishing, a change.org petition demanding Depp's return to Disney's renowned franchise has garnered over 5.5 million signatures.
The surge in the supporters for this petition follows claims by Depp's legal team earlier in the trial, where they stated that the actor was dropped from the series by Disney in the aftermath of Heard's op-ed. In a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post, Heard claimed that she had been s*xually abused.
While the actress did not name Depp in the article, it was clear that her words insinuated that she was allegedly abused by her ex-husband, Depp. The 58-year-old star's legal team brought up the income loss incurred by Depp as a result of the op-ed's apparent effect on his career. Thus, Depp has demanded $50 million from Heard in the lawsuit. Meanwhile, Heard has countersued the actor for $100 million in her own defamation suit.
What are the demands of the change.org petition by Johnny Depp's supporters?
The petition was started by Kimberly Giles in 2020 and urged the decision-makers at The Walt Disney Company at the time to let Johnny Depp return to the role of Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. In the petition, Giles argued that Amber Heard was not dropped from Warner Brothers' (now Warner Bros. Discovery) Aquaman 2 despite allegations from Depp's side that she had abused him too.
Meanwhile, a year after the op-ed was published, Depp was let go from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The petition's description mentions:
"Johnny Depp deserves his life back the way it was before Amber Heard came along, because no actor or actress could ever say this man is not an amazing actor. If you were falsely accused of something you did not do, then there's proof you didn't do it and you still were treated like a bad person, wouldn't you want Justice??"
Information regarding Depp's departure from the Pirates of the Caribbean role that was disclosed during the trial
During his deposition in the trial in late April, Johnny Depp said:
"Two years had gone by of constant worldwide talk about me being this wife beater. So I'm sure that Disney was trying to cut ties to be safe. The #MeToo movement was in full swing at that point."
Meanwhile, Johnny Depp's talent manager Jack Whigham revealed that around 2017, Disney had negotiated a $22.5 million paycheck for the actor to reprise his role in the franchise for the sixth installment. However, the deal fell through in 2019, when the talent manager learned that the studio had dropped Depp from the role following Heard's accusations.
While fans may want the actor to return to the role, Johnny Depp has clearly stated that he will not be returning to the role even if Disney pays him $300 million. Although the franchise has grossed over $4.5 billion throughout the span of five films, it is unlikely that Disney will ever pay Depp $300 million or more for his return.
The evaluation of his potential compensation could be based on the fact that Robert Downey Jr. was paid an estimated $150 million for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame before any cut of the gross profits. However, since Pirates of the Caribbean movies grossed much less at the global box-office compared to Downey's MCU films, it is unlikely that the studio would pay a massive sum to Depp for his return to the franchise.