New testimony from the libel trial between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard might have spoiled key plot points surrounding Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Kathryn Arnold, a former Hollywood producer who now operates as an entertainment industry consultant, took the stand during the trial on Monday to speak about the impact that the lawsuit and subsequent controversy has had on Heard's career, and to back up the actress' claims that her role as Mera was significantly cut down for The Lost Kingdom. Depp is suing Heard for libel, after she penned an op-ed about their past marriage in The Washington Post, in which she claimed that the actor verbally and physically abused her throughout their relationship. The actor is reportedly seeing $50 million in damages.
Despite previous reports indicating that there were "chemistry concerns" about Heard's onscreen performance with Aquaman actor Jason Momoa, Arnold claimed that initial drafts of The Lost Kingdom featured Mera more prominently to capitalize on the characters' "empowering" relationship, before being pared down to a two appearances at the beginning and end of the movie.
"When two actors do well in a romantic relationship, and you know, they get married or they're gonna have a baby, you want to follow that through," Arnold explained. "Part of what did well in Aquaman was not only the action sequences, but to have a strong female character having a relationship with a strong male character, it's very empowering. So that was working for them in the first place. The poster of Aquaman that went around the world, one of the main posters, was of the two of them together standing proud and strong, being that couple. And so naturally, as you go and develop scripts in the industry, you want to follow on the things that are working. And according to Ms. Heard, when she read the first script for Aquaman 2, she had a strong romantic arc [in] the entire film, and she also got to some great action sequences at the end of that storyline in that script. She was featured predominantly throughout the script of Aquaman 2 when she first read it."
"She didn't hear anything," Arnold said of subsequent changes that were made to the film. "She wasn't getting the scripts when her colleagues were getting the scripts. She heard that through her agents. And then when she got the script, it was pared down from the first script dramatically. They had her in the hospital very shortly in the first part of the movie, called Act One. They had her in the hospital, and they pretty much had her in the hospital, and then she was going to do this action sequence in the end. She trained five hours a day for several months for the trainer to do this big action sequence. And then when she got to se, two things happened. One, the costume designer said 'I don't know what happened to your role. It got diminished.' And more importantly, this big action sequence that she was going to do at the end of the movie and the third act was cut out. They took it away from her. So it was radically reduced from what it was in the script, and what she even trained for, while she was preparing for the movie."
While Arnold stressed that she hasn't "seen the movie yet" and is unable to speak to the specifics of how Mera's storyline changed, she did mention that the pared down version had "something to do with the baby", seemingly confirming previous rumors that Aquaman and Mera's child would factor into the film.
"I believe that in the first act of the movie, she was injured somehow, or had something to do with the baby," Arnold revealed. "I don't know exactly, I'm just going with what Ms. Heard told me about, that she ends up in the hospital early in this new Aquaman 2 movie, and doesn't really come out until the end, to kind of wrap things up. But all of the interactions with Momoa's [character], and certainly the action scenes, were taken out."
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is currently set to be released in theaters on March 17, 2023.