As Hollywood productions begin to resume after half a year of shutdowns, Johnny Depp has requested a delay for his $50 million defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard so he can avoid a scheduling conflict with Fantastic Beasts 3. Depp and Heard were scheduled to face off in Virginia in January 2021 for this latest lawsuit, which is entirely separate from Depp’s recent libel suit against The Sun that just concluded in London and is awaiting a verdict. However, the lengthy production on Fantastic Beasts 3 is reportedly looking at an October start and will run into February 2021, which presents a problem for Depp. Via Deadline:
“When the Court set the current trial date in this case, Mr. Depp understood that Warner Bros. planned to shoot ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’ in London long before January 11, 2021. COVID-19 disrupted the studio’s plans, causing repeated postponements. With conditions in London having improved somewhat, Warner Bros. has now set a shooting schedule that conflicts with the trial date in this case,” the court papers say.
Depp is shooting for a new court date between March and June 2021, and based on Deadline’s reporting, it sounds like Heard will be open to the delay. Legal teams for both actors will meet in September to work out an agreeable date that accommodates Fantastic Beasts 3 and Heard’s filming for Aquaman 2, which is expected to start production in 2021.
In March 2019, Depp filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard alleging that she defamed him in her Washington Post column that spoke about her history as a domestic abuse survivor. While Heard did not name Depp in the column, that wasn’t enough to prevent the lawsuit from moving forward. In March 2020, a judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit after determining that the column “relied on the factual underpinning that Ms. Heard was abused by Mr. Depp.” A court date was set for January 2021, but it appears that both Depp and Heard are in agreement that a delay would be in the best interests of both parties as film productions resume.