As Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's bombshell defamation trial continues to divide the internet into two passionate sectors, Depp fans have ramped up efforts to bring the actor back to Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Depp, 58, was ditched from the popular film series as Captain Jack Sparrow in 2018, which the actor claims was due to an essay Amber Heard penned for the Washington Post identifying herself as a survivor of domestic violence.
Though Depp wasn't named in the piece, Heard is being sued by the Edward Scissorhands actor for US$50 million ($78m) for implying he was abusive throughout their marriage. He claims the essay cost him lucrative film roles including a sixth instalment of Pirates. Heard is counter suing for $100m.
Depp also alleges he was physically and verbally abused by Heard.
As the televised trial continues to air shocking details of their relationship, including Depp's drinking and drug use, the couple's explosive arguments and multiple accounts of alleged abuse, a Change.org to bring Depp back to the family-friendly franchise is receiving renewed attention.
Titled "Justice for Johnny Depp", the petition currently has more than 498,000 signatures as of Sunday. Meanwhile, a petition to remove Heard from Aquaman 2 has reached over 3.7 million signatures.
Organiser of Depp's petition, Kimberly Giles, writes that "Amber Heard ruined Johnny Depp's life as well as career".
"Johnny Depp deserves his life back the way it was before Amber Heard came along, because no actor or actor could ever say this man is not an amazing actor," the petition reads. "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??"
Giles continued: "Johnny Depp deserves to continue his roll [sic] as Sparrow. I believe that removing him was a mistake on your end but quite stupid if you ask me … Please have a change of heart and do not release that movie without Johnny Depp." Updates from Giles and comments on the page date back two years.
Depp's talent manager Jack Whigham testified earlier this month that Depp lost out on $22.5m from his axed role in the sixth Pirate film. Whigham said Heard's 2018 op-ed for the Washington Post, had a "catastrophic" effect on the actor's career. However, during cross-examination, the timing of Depp's sacking and Heard's op-ed was brought into contention.
While Depp is adamant his relationship with the Pirates franchise ended due to Heard's Post article, in 2018 The Hollywood Reporter published an investigation into a string of issues Depp was said to have had on the set of the fifth Pirates movie.
Citing sources close to the production, The Hollywood Reporter piece said Depp displayed "troubling behaviour" because of "heavy drinking" and frequent lateness.
One source told the publication Depp was late so often a production staffer was assigned to stake out the home Depp had rented in Coomera, Australia, while shooting the film, in order to cater the production schedule around when he left the house.
In 2020, Depp was also "asked to resign" from his role in the Fantastic Beasts franchise after losing a libel case against The Sun. The judge denied the newspaper's reference to Depp as a "wife beater" was defamatory, finding the statement to be "substantially true".
Last week, Heard took to the witness stand at Fairfax County Circuit Court, breaking down as she accused her ex-husband of being verbally and physically abusive, as well as recounting an alleged sexual assault with a vodka bottle.
Depp's legal team fired back in a scathing statement, accusing Heard of delivering "the performance of her life".
The defamation trial is now on break for one week. Heard will continue her testimony when it resumes.