Johnny Depp mounts career comeback one year after Amber Heard trial

One year after Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's explosive trial came to an end, the 59-year-old actor is making his comeback.

Johnny Depp spent the last year proving he is still a major force in Hollywood. 

His highly publicized defamation trial with ex-wife Amber Heard came to a conclusion exactly one year ago. 

During their bombshell six-week court battle, the 59-year-old actor and 37-year-old actress both testified, lobbing shocking allegations of physical and sexual abuse against each other. On June 1, 2022, a Virginia jury ruled largely in Depp's favor, as they found Heard liable on all three counts of defamation stemming from a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she referred to herself as domestic abuse survivor.

She was ordered to pay Depp $8.35 million in damages. Depp, who was found guilty on one count of defamation in Heard's countersuit, was to pay his former spouse $2 million. Though the two both appealed the verdict, they reached a settlement in December with Heard agreeing to pay Depp $1 million, which he pledged to donate to charity.

Over the past year, the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star has taken steps to rebuild his life and career, which was derailed amid his legal woes.

Following the verdict, Depp released a statement in which he expressed his gratitude to the jury, who he said "gave me my life back."


"The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun," he added.

Last summer, Depp performed alongside the late Jeff Beck at several shows in Europe. In July, the two debuted their first joint studio album "18," which would be the legendary guitarist's final release before his death at the age of 78 in January. 

Depp and Beck also embarked on a 29-date tour in support of the album from September to November of last year.


Depp also proved himself to be a successful artist. Weeks after the trial, he earned over $3.6 million when his debut art collection "Friends & Heroes" sold out within hours. The collection, which featured 780 prints of four portraits Depp painted of Al Pacino, Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor and Keith Richards, was sold online through London's Castle Fine Art gallery.

The gallery celebrated the success of Depp's collection on Twitter, writing, "This world-first release proved to be our fastest-selling collection to date, with all titles selling out in just hours."

A month later at the MTV Video Music Awards, Depp made a surprise virtual appearance as the network's iconic Moonman. The cameo saw the "Edward Scissorhands" actor's face projected on an astronaut suit that floated above the stage.

"You know what? I needed the work," he said in a pre-recorded video. 

Later in the show, Depp reappeared, saying, "Hey VMAs, let’s get back to the f–king music, shall we?" In his final appearance, the Golden Globe winner joked, "I just want you guys to know that I’m available for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, weddings, wakes — any old thing you need. Anything. You name it. Oh, I’m also a dentist."

Depp's cameo was met with some controversy on social media, including criticism from Heard's sister Whitney who slammed MTV as "disgusting and desperate" for featuring the actor at the awards show.

In November, Rihanna faced backlash after enlisting Depp to appear in her Savage X Fenty Vol. 4 Show, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video. Depp made history as the first male to be featured in the show's "star moment," a spot previously occupied by Cindy Crawford and Erykah Badu.

Despite his court victory, the controversy that continued to follow Depp after the trial led many to question whether he could ever successfully revive his acting career. The A-lister was shunned by major movie studios after Heard's allegations were made public. 

In 2020, Warner Bros. asked Depp to resign from his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the third installment of the "Fantastic Beasts" franchise. Depp, who had played the dark wizard in 2016's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and 2018's "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" was replaced by Mads Mikkelson in 2022's "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore."

During the trial, Depp said he was also fired from the sixth installment of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. Depp, who starred as Captain Jack Sparrow in the blockbuster film series' five previous movies, testified that Disney cut ties with him after Heard's op-ed was published.


While Depp's Hollywood career stalled, he was cast in French director Maïwenn's period romance "Jeanne du Barry" in January 2022. The French-language film, in which Depp starred as King Louis XV opposite Maïwenn, was selected to open the 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival.

"As soon as his tour ended, he jumped into filming ‘Jeanne du Barry.’ Filming was challenging, but Johnny is excited about the comeback," a source told People magazine in April. "He thinks it's perfect that this historical drama will open at Cannes."

Depp made his return to the spotlight official when he attended the film's world premiere at the prestigious film festival on May 16. When he arrived at the event, the actor was met with applause from thousands of fans who gathered at the Palais des Festivals, according to Variety. Depp spent five minutes greeting fans and taking selfies before walking the red carpet.

The outlet reported that Depp teared up upon receiving a seven-minute standing ovation following the screening. During a press conference to promote the film, Depp opened up about how he felt he was treated by Hollywood amid his years-long legal battle with Heard.

"Did I feel boycotted by Hollywood? Well, you’d have to not have a pulse to feel at that point like this was all just a weird joke," he said per Variety.

"Of course, when you’re asked to resign from a film you’re doing because of something that’s merely a bunch of vowels and consonants floating in the air, yes, you feel boycotted," he added, referring to losing his role in "Fantastic Beasts."

"Do I feel boycotted now? No, not at all," Depp continued. "But I don’t feel boycotted because I don’t think about Hollywood. I don’t feel much further need for Hollywood — I don’t know about you."

The "21 Jump Street" alum also slammed the media's coverage of him and disputed the accuracy of reports on his life following Heard's accusations.

"The majority of you who have been reading for the last five or six years, with regards to me and my life — the majority of what you’ve read is fantastically, horrifically written fiction," he said. "The fact is, we’re here to talk about the film. But it’s like asking the question, ‘How are you doing?’ But what’s underneath in the subtext is, ‘God, I hate you.’ That’s the sort of media thing."

Depp also took issue with his return to the big screen being described as a "comeback."

"I’ve had my 17th comeback, apparently" he said. "I keep wondering about the word ‘comeback,’ because I didn’t go anywhere," adding, "I live about 45 minutes away."


"Maybe people stopped calling out of whatever their fear was at the time. But I didn’t go nowhere. I’ve been sitting around. ‘Comeback’ is almost like I’m going to come out and do a tap dance — dance my best and hope you approve. That’s the notion. It’s a bizarre mystery."

Depp's appearance at Cannes was not without controversy. The festival's organizers defended opening the festival with his film after the decision was met with criticism. This year, the city of Cannes banned public protests around the festival. Heard supporters took to social media to vent their anger over Depp's presence at the event, using the hashtag, "#CannesYouNot."

After the festival, a source told People magazine that Depp "is doing fantastic." 

"Johnny is doing fantastic. He really enjoys working and touring again. He has managed to turn his life around," the insider shared. "He is prioritizing his health and work."

"He was living a destructive life and people close to him were concerned," the source added. "Everyone is excited about how he turned things around. He is much happier too."

In April, a source provided an update on Depp's personal life. "Johnny has been living in Europe since the trial. He has been dating, but doesn't have a girlfriend," the insider told People magazine.

Depp was married to makeup artist Lori Anne Allison from 1983 to 1985. The actor shares daughter Lily-Rose, 24, and Jack, 21, with his former partner Vanessa Paradis. The two were together for 14 years before splitting in 2012.

Last year, the actor was briefly linked to Joelle Rich, an attorney who represented him in his 2020 U.K. libel trial against a British tabloid for branding him a "wife-beater." Depp lost the libel case, and his appeal to overturn the decision was denied in March 2021.

Following the premiere of "Jeanne du Barry," Depp is set to plunge back into work on a number of projects. He will be helming the upcoming "Modi" biopic, which marks his return to directing for the first time in 25 years. The movie, which will begin filming in Budapest this fall, will star Al Pacino, as well as "John Wick: Chapter Two" star Riccardo Scamarcio and French actor Pierre Niney. 

Earlier this month, Depp signed a reported historic deal to remain the face of Dior men's fragrance Sauvage. According to Variety, Depp inked a more than $20 million three-year deal with Dior, which is the highest for any men’s cologne.

Depp hit a minor roadblock this week, announcing he had postponed several dates on his upcoming tour with his band the Hollywood Vampires due to an ankle injury that he sustained at Cannes. He took to Instagram to apologize to fans for the cancelation of his upcoming concerts.

"My dear friends, I am sorry to say that I have fractured my ankle, which is a drag!!!" he wrote. 

Depp continued, "It began as a hairline break but somewhere between Cannes and the Royal Albert Hall it got worse rather than better." 


"Several medical professionals have strongly suggested I avoid any and all activity for the moment and so am sadly unable to travel at this time," he added. "The guys and I are very sorry to miss you in New Hampshire, Boston and New York but fear not, I promise we will bring an amazing show to all of you in Europe and bring our absolute best to the East Coast later this summer and make it up to those who have paid for those shows!!!"

Paid tickets will be honored for the new dates on July 28, 29 and 30.

"Again, sincerest apologies. All my love and respect… J.D. x," he concluded.

Depp's bandmates include Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen and Joe Perry. The guitarist is expected to return to the road next month when the Hollywood Vampires kick off their tour on June 8 in Romania.

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