Where Johnny Depp's Relationship With Disney Stands, Post-Defamation Trial

With more than 330 million viewers on the Law & Crime Network alone, the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial was the trial watched around the world. Everyone tuned in to find out all the sordid – and kinda gross – details about what went down between Depp, who might be most famously known for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow, and Heard, whose career skyrocketed after playing Aquaman's leading lady. After plenty of shady courtroom comments, jaw-dropping audio recordings, and stunning security cam footage, the judge ultimately ruled in Depp's favor. Heard was ordered to pay more than $10 million to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star for defamation (via NPR). 

Still, some of the comments made by Depp and Heard while they were on the witness stand have left fans with many questions. One of the most pressing questions is whether Depp, whose name has been cleared, will be back onboard with Disney to return to his role as the swashbuckling, accident-prone pirate. Depp famously vowed to never work with Disney again because, in his words, he was labeled as "guilty until proven innocent" by the company when Heard's accusations of abuse came out. But not everyone is convinced Depp's statement is one he'll continue to stick by.

Depp's money troubles might force him to change his mind

There were rumors floating around that Johnny Depp would be returning to his role as the infamous pirate captain, but a rep for the actor quickly shot those rumors down as "false," according to People. Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer of the "Pirates" franchise, has also verified Depp's claim, saying the actor did indeed step away from the multi-billion dollar company. He stated that "the future is yet to be decided" on whether or not Depp will reprise his role as Jack Sparrow. 

There are others who think the lure of a hefty paycheck might be enough to draw the actor back on the "Pirates" set. A source told People that the idea of Depp turning down a hypothetical $300 million check from Disney, which Depp declared he would do while on the stand, won't be feasible for the "Fantastic Beasts" star. "I don't believe that based on his money troubles, especially given 'Pirates' is a billion-dollar global franchise," the source claimed.

Another source close to the actor also claimed that Depp could potentially return to the franchise if asked. "Anything is possible," the insider said. "If it's the right project, he'll do it."

Disney may not welcome Johnny Depp back

After the televised trial, many people wondered what would come next for Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. Heard has been staying out of the limelight since the trial, with no clear decision on when or if she will make a return to acting. Depp has already been in a few projects since the trial. However, "Pirates of the Caribbean" fans are most likely counting the days until Depp goes back to starring in the beloved franchise, without the controversies following behind him. But, while Depp does have a longstanding relationship with Disney, the decision to return to the company may not be up to him to decide.

In 2018, it was announced that the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise would continue, but Depp's character would be figuratively forced to walk the plank. Amidst the allegations of abuse, Disney executive Sean Bailey admitted that Depp was already being written out of future movies in the series. "We want to bring in a new energy and vitality," Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter, before praising the franchise's newest writers, Rhett Weese and Paul Wernick. "I love the [Pirates] movies, but part of the reason Paul and Rhett are so interesting is that we want to give it a kick in the pants. And that's what I've tasked them with."