Johnny Depp’s career suicide reached finality when a ruinous libel suit against a British tabloid ended up painting him as a “wife beater.”
He was pronounced “radioactive” in Hollywood earlier this month by one trade tabloid after being fired from Warner Bros. Fantastic Beasts franchise.
Even old pal, Jerry Bruckheimer, his most powerful remaining Tinseltown ally, cut him loose from his promising “Harry Houdini” TV project, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
But the star-crossed actor is getting a shot of redemption from a unlikely source.
Esteemed British actor Sir Mark Rylance has stepped up to defend the actor.
Rylance, 60, has had a long stage career in London’s West End. Most recently, he appeared in such top-notch films as Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama Dunkirk (2017) and Aaron Sorkin’s Vietnam War court drama The Trial of the Chicago Seven (2020).
Rylance said he was warned Depp would be “difficult” on set when they began filming “Waiting for the Barbarians,” a 2019 action drama.
Depp plays a maniacal military officer who commits atrocities in a far-flung colony. Rylance plays a magistrate who investigates him.
Twilight’s Robert Pattinson also appears in the movie.
In a new interview, the British actor had nothing but praise for his co-star.
He called Depp “Very gracious. Very present.”
“He gets shy in press conferences. I can see that he takes a long time to find his words. It’s not like that when you’re working with him. He’s very articulate and eloquent. Very funny,” he said.
“He’s just had a very extraordinary life. He’s a musician primarily too. He’s a wonderful actor but he was a musician who fell into acting. So he brought a little guitar to the set and he’ll play it very beautifully.
“He plays with Jeff Beck, his friend. So he plays very beautifully, quietly, and then we will get up and act.
“And so I had the impression that he was playing with me, like in a duet of a piano and violin or bass and drum. He was very responsive,” he continued.
“Unfortunately, I have to confess, I went into it with people saying to me, ‘Oh it’s going to be difficult.’ And that wasn’t the case at all.”
Depp’s life began spiraling out of control following the breakup of his 15-month marriage to actress Amber Heard.
In May 2016, Heard filed for divorce and also obtained a temporary restraining order against the Oscar-nominated actor.
She alleged that Depp had physically abused her during their relationship, usually while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Depp denied these accusations and charged that Heard was simply “attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse.”
The divorce was finalized in 2017 and both sides signed a “non-disparagement” agreement, pledging not to say anything negative about the other.
But in 2018, Heard wrote in a Washington Post article about the divorce and her experience with Depp.
“Johnny often would not remember his delusional and violent conduct after he came out of his drunk or medicated states,” Heard said in the filing.
Depp “would become a totally different person, often delusional and violent. We called that version of Johnny, ‘the Monster,’” she said.
She claimed Depp hit and choked her. “Because I loved Johnny, I had believed his multiple promises that he could and would get better. I was wrong.”
Depp sued the paper for defamation, claiming Heard “is not a victim of domestic abuse, she is a perpetrator.”
The suit said that Heard’s allegations were part of an “elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity” for the actress. The case turned into a scorched earth legal battle.
Depp released a phone recording that showed the abuse went both ways.
Depp said in the recording: “I left last night. Honestly, I swear to you because I just couldn’t take the idea of more physicality, more physical abuse on each other.
“Because had we continued it, it would have gotten fucking bad. And baby, I told you this once. I’m scared to death we are a fucking crime scene right now,” Depp continued.
Heard replied: “I can’t promise you I won’t get physical again. God, I fucking sometimes get so mad I lose it.”
Nonetheless, tabloids around the world jumped on the story, portraying Depp as a wife beater. Depp finally filed another defamation lawsuit against the U.K. tabloid The Sun.
Depp alleged that Heard defecated in his bed and punched him. Depp also accused Heard of having extra-marital affairs with James Franco and Elon Musk.
She denied both allegations, and a British judge found in November that the reporting was fair. He cited 14 incidents that The Sun’s lawyers cited to justify calling Depp a “wife-beater.”
Depp’s appeal of the ruling was denied on Nov. 25.
The Hollywood Reporter noted: “Over the course of four short years, Depp has spiraled from an A-list star responsible for more than $10 billion in worldwide box office to Hollywood persona non grata.”
But others who know him, especially his ex-partner of 19 years, Vanessa Paradis, were shocked by the portrayal.
Rylance is giving Depp a shot of redemption. Now, it’s up to him to show his true character.
Hear audio of a fight between Depp and Heard.