Johnny Depp’s career continues to flounder due to his legal woes, and his latest film, City of Lies, is hitting Starz over the weekend. The film, which stars Depp and Forest Whitaker, was filmed in 2018 and languished in limbo before getting a VOD release earlier this year.
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“A detective and a journalist, both fallen from grace, unite to refuel their obsession with one of the best known unsolved murders in history – the murder of Christopher ‘Notorious B.I.G.’ Wallace,” reads the official synopsis. “Based on the book by Randall Sullivan, this crime drama also delves deep into the murder of Tupac Shakur, the suspicious circumstances surrounding both deaths, and the much-speculated gang or LAPD involvement in the cases.”
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This delay was hardly the first of Depp’s recent career setbacks, which include being dropped from the Fantastic Beasts franchise and his film Minamata allegedly being “buried.” Depp gave his first interview since losing a libel case against the publishers of the British tabloid The Sun, claiming that Hollywood is boycotting him amid his ongoing legal battles with ex-wife Amber Heard. Depp’s interview comes as Minamata has yet to secure a U.S. release date. Heard and Depp finalized their divorce in January 2017, but the two are still fighting in court as Depp filed a defamation lawsuit against Heard over her 2018 Washington Post op-ed.
In Minimata, Depp stars as photographer W. Eugene Smith, who visited Minimata, Japan, to document the effects of mercury poisoning caused by industrial pollution. While in Japan, Smith faced reprisals for exposing the scandal and was repatriated to the U.S., but not before his photographs were published. The film was written by David Kessler and directed by Andrew Levitas, with Depp as one of the producers. MGM has distribution rights in the U.S., but it still hasn’t received a release date. Levitas has accused MGM of “burying” Minimata because of Depp’s court battles. MGM said it still plans to release the movie.
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Depp told The Sunday Times in the U.K. that he believes the movie must be seen, despite his issues with Heard. “We looked these people in the eyeballs and promised we would not be exploitative,” he said, via Deadline. “That the film would be respectful. I believe that we’ve kept our end of the bargain, but those who came in later should also maintain theirs.”
“Some films touch people… And this affects those in Minamata and people who experience similar things,” Depp continued. “And for anything… For Hollywood’s boycott of me? One man, one actor in an unpleasant and messy situation, over the last number of years?” Depp later added that he was “moving towards where I need to go to make all that… To bring things to light.”
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Depp and Heard married in February 2015, and Heard filed for divorce in May 2016. She accused Depp of being verbally and physically abusive during their relationship and was granted a temporary restraining order. Their divorce was finalized in January 2017, with Depp paying Heard a $7 million settlement. Heard then vowed to donate the settlement to the ACLU and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In January, Depp accused Heard of not making the donations, and a New York judge granted his request that the ACLU release proof of the donation. Heard’s team said her donations were delayed because of the ongoing court cases with Depp.
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Depp filed a libel lawsuit against The Sun’s publishers in June 2018 for referring to him as a “wife-beater” in an article. The judge in the case said that there was enough evidence to support Heard’s claims in 12 of the 14 alleged assaults and ruled against Depp. In March 2021, Depp’s appeal of the verdict was rejected. Depp’s defamation lawsuit over Heard’s Washington Post op-ed is still ongoing, with a trial scheduled to start in April 2022.