The jury in the Johnny Depp–Amber Heard defamation trial on Thursday saw the actor’s former agent and former business manager describe the collapse of his reputation and his finances by the time they were let go in 2016.
UTA’s Tracey Jacobs, who had represented Depp since the 1990s, laid out how the star came to the agency early in 2016 demanding $20 million.
In pre-recorded video testimony that was played for the jury, Heard’s attorney asked Jacobs, “So Mr. Depp came in and said, ‘I want you to get $20 million for me?’”
“Actually it was, ‘I want you to give me 20 million,’” Jacobs said. “The question was not asked as a loan.”
Jacobs said that UTA partners Jim Berkus and Jeremy Zimmer, who were present at the meeting, told Depp that “we are not in a position to give our clients that kind of money. We are not a bank.”
But Depp thought that the agency should just give him the money, Jacobs said, given the length of time that they represented him.
Later, Depp’s former business manager, Joel Mandel, described Depp’s personal fortune exploding in the early 2000s, but that the situation began to change around 2010. Mandel said that Depp’s spending “had grown very large,” and that when his income dropped off, Depp’s expenses became “untenable.”
Mandel said that he had “constant” conversations with Depp about curbing spending, but that it “never seemed to happen.”
By 2015, Mandel, the situation had gotten so alarming that Depp was unable to pay his taxes. He said that Depp was resistant to one suggestion, that he sell a property in the south of France.
Depp fired Mandel later in 2016, and then sued the business management firm for $25 million. The lawsuit was settled in 2018.
In his deposition, Mandel denied that he had ever stolen or embezzled any money, or had taken any money from the actor other than fees.
Jacobs testified that they were able to secure a loan for Depp through Bank of America. “It was very helpful for him.”
By the time that Depp dropped UTA in 2016, Jacobs said that his reputation for being tardy to sets had made it more difficult to get him work. “His star had dimmed due to it having harder to get him jobs due to the reputation he had acquired due to his lateness and other things,” she said.
She said that the “other things” included questions about his drug and alcohol use. She said that she referred that Depp see Dr. David Kipper, whose practice assisted other high profile individuals in getting sober.
“People were talking, and the question was out there about his behavior,” she said.
Depp sued Heard after she published a Washington Post op ed in December, 2018, in which she said that she wrote that she had “became a public figure representing domestic abuse.” In his $50 million lawsuit, Depp claimed that the op ed damaged his reputation, costing him high paying roles like the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Heard’s legal team has argued that Depp’s reputation was damaged well before that point, due to his lateness on film sets and a life of heavy alcohol and drug use.
Jacobs said that Depp was paid $25 million plus backend for Pirates 5, but that she could not recall whether there was any kind of negotiation for him to appear in the next in the film franchise. She said that they also secured a role for him in Murder On the Orient Express, in which he would be paid $5 million for four consecutive weeks of work, plus a portion of the backend.
Although Depp had anger issues, Jacobs said, she said that she never witnessed him hit a woman or throw anything at a woman. Depp has denied Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse.
More to come.