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SYFY WIRE Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Jason Momoa & James Wan reportedly stopped a push to recast Amber Heard for 'Aquaman' sequel

Heard is currently battling her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, in court.

By Josh Weiss
(L-R) Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, and director James Wan

Jason Momoa and James Wan purportedly came to the defense of Amber Heard when Warner Bros. allegedly tried to reduce the actress's role in next year's Aquaman sequel. During the high-profile defamation trial brought by her ex-husband, Pirates of the Caribbean alum Johnny Depp, Heard claimed that the studio planned to significantly slash Mera's role in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom amid the negative publicity surrounding the potentially embarrassing legal case.

"I was given a script and then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it," Heard remarked last week. "[Scenes] that depicted my character and another character — without giving any spoilers away — two characters fighting with one another. They basically took a bunch out of my role. They just removed a bunch out."

The actress's agent, Jessica Kovacevic, went a step further, alleging that Warner Bros. considered recasting the role and citing a "lack of chemistry" with Momoa, who plays the character of Arthur Curry. DC Films President Walter Hamada actually confirmed this was indeed considered, but denied any action to minimize Mera's role in the new movie. In the end, Heard was able to stay in the movie because Momoa and Wan (who returns to direct) were "committed to her" and "adamant that she was in the film," said entertainment consultant Kathryn Arnold.

Arnold also seemed to reveal certain plot details about Lost Kingdom, asserting (via Entertainment Weekly) that Mera gets injured "early in this new Aquaman 2 movie and doesn't really come out until the end to kind of wrap things up. All the interactions with Momoa's character, and certainly the action scenes, were taken out." In addition, she made a passing mention of "something to do with a baby" in the first act, which could be a spoiler-y confirmation that Arthur and Mera's child from the comics, Arthur Curry Jr. (sometimes known as "Aquababy") will make an appearance in the second movie.

In any case, Heard's substantial action sequences were supposedly axed from the screenplay written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. "When she got the script, it was pared down from the first script dramatically," Arnold continued. "They had her in the hospital very shortly in the first part of the movie called Act I and they pretty much had her in the hospital and then she was gonna do this action sequence in the end. She trained five hours a day for several months with a trainer to do this big action sequence. And then when she got to set ... the costume designer said, 'I don't know what happened to your role, it got diminished.'"

The consultant testified that Heard has lost out on an estimated $45 to $50 million in film, television, and brand endorsement deals as a result of claims made by Depp's former lawyer, Adam Waldman, who continues to stand by the hypothesis that the actress faked her allegations of domestic abuse. Arnold explained that it has not only impacted the production side of Heard's career, but the promotional side as well.

"Amber has not been involved in any of the promotion that's been done to date or very little," she said with regards to Lost Kingdom. "Particularly in teasers that I've seen, short little films about the making-of and so forth. She's not featured in them. And also, very specifically, there was a big event that Warner Bros. put on, the DC FanDome event, which is a big Comic-Con-style event. They invited a majority of the actors that had strong roles in film to participate, both in the posters and the artwork and also participate at DC FanDome. Ms. Heard was not invited to either be in the poster or be at the event. In fact, they told her she [could] not come ... Nobody knows about her, she doesn't have the same part in the film, it's not gonna take her on to her next movie. She's not being associated with the tremendous amount of promotion that's gonna be made for this movie that everybody's looking forward to seeing."

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom dives into theaters on March 17, 2023.

If you're in the mood for more rollicking sci-fi action in the meantime, head over to Peacock to check out the science fiction film line-up, including Firestarter, Independence Day, Armageddon, Gamer, Resident Evil and more.