Why Did Johnny Depp And Amber Heard Choose A ‘Risky Role’?

The actors portraying Johnny Depp and Amber Heard understand if you’re hesitant to see a movie based on the highly sensationalized defamation lawsuit that made headlines across the world and ended only four months ago. Actually, they shared the same sentiments at first.

Hot Take: The Depp/Heard Trial, starring Mark Hapka as Depp, is available to watch on Tubi right now.

Why Did Johnny Depp And Amber Heard Choose A 'risky Role'?
Why Did Johnny Depp And Amber Heard Choose A ‘risky Role’?

“Listen, I was a little suspicious too when I first heard about it,” Megan Davis, who plays Heard, tells EW in a separate interview. “It’s a sensitive subject that deserves serious consideration, but I fear that the trial will fail because viewers will see themselves in either of the protagonists.”

Both actors admitted they were initially hesitant to accept their roles, but said discussions with the directors put their minds at ease. Hapka says, “When I was offered the job, it wasn’t necessarily a hell yes,” and adds, “it’s a hazardous role.”

He continues, “I had questions.” Because I wasn’t interested in watching a movie with any sort of obvious predisposition or slant toward either side, “I got on the phone with our director and I spoke to our producer and wanted to find out what kind of movie they were planning to do.”

When asked what made her feel at ease despite the limited time restriction, Davis said, “Everyone was very much a believer in showing [Heard] as a real human being and her reality as fairly as his truth.”

Hapka claims that he accepted the role in order to lend objectivity and humanity to the characters he and Davis portray. I knew the movie was going to be made with or without me,” he says. During a recent conversation, Megan said, “I’m going entirely protect Amber, and you’re going to fully protect Johnny. This way, in that tug of war, we can find that balance and make sure everything stays as neutral as possible.”

Davis was also motivated to play Head by the online animosity she witnessed during the trial. She says, “If anything, honestly, it was more the hostility that made me want to portray her,” adding, “because it crushes my heart when we can’t recognize that individuals are human beings.”

Despite their best efforts, both actors were ready to take flak from all quarters. Hapka freely confesses, “We expected every bit of reaction.” As one witness put it, “This was such a moment in the cultural zeitgeist with so many layers, where each individual you ask will perceive this trial completely differently; there’s no objective truth to it.” So, “I think that in that sense, I wasn’t too worried about it because I was just there to do my job, which was to bring authenticity to the testimonies and bring to life what was said by each person as a dramatization.”

Hapka didn’t want to come off as performing an impersonation or cosplaying Depp so that he could play the role as realistically as possible. Though neither actor attended the trial in person, they each drew inspiration from courtroom testimony, recordings of the couple’s arguments that were admitted into evidence, and red carpet interviews from their whirlwind romance. According to Hapka, “I focused on things like essence and mannerisms and not necessarily attempting to do an impersonation of him, but rather just plunge into the full essence of it.”

A big part of that was getting used to Depp’s peculiar speech pattern. Hapka observes, “He has this accent that you can’t pinpoint. According to me, it’s a mash-up of every character he’s ever portrayed, the best parts of which have stuck with him. The actor’s appearance was also aided by the costume department. “They nailed Johnny’s wacky, exotic look, right down to the safety pins, handkerchiefs, dozens of bracelets, and assorted necklaces and earrings that he wears. We had a whole history of his tattoos and knew when each one would appear and then go.”

Davis felt like he gained the most understanding of Heard’s character after listening to the tapes of their fights. “I felt the most connected to her when I was listening to such chats,” she adds. “I believe that when you are having an argument with the person you love, you are at your most exposed and vulnerable. Some of my best and worst times in life stem from my romantic relationships. Listening to her, I couldn’t help but feel that I recognized a lot of myself in her.”

Hot Take dramatizes actual courtroom testimony alongside scenes speculating on what the couple’s tumultuous and abusive relationship may have been like behind closed doors to portray the story of the trial. Repeated displays of the same disagreements from different points of view are not uncommon. In the scenes seen through Heard’s eyes, Depp is seen slapping her and slamming her into a table full of broken glass. (Depp has vehemently refuted allegations that he hit Heard or any other lady.) Depp claims that Heard’s bottle slashed off his finger, although video evidence shows that it was Heard who slapped and physically provoked him. (Rumor has it that he trimmed it himself.)

Davis acknowledges the difficulty of those situations and says she can see why victims of domestic violence could be offended by the dramatization. She explains that she believes the people she is referring to are concerned that the film will trivialize the issue of domestic abuse. According to her, individuals affected have voiced their displeasure on social media. “I think those folks have been very publicly outraged on social media,” she says. “What I’d like them to know is that after talking to the producers, directors, and studios involved in this project, I’m convinced that nobody would enter this wanting anything other than to try and portray the truth as best they can from two sides where we still aren’t even really sure what happened.”

Scroll to Top