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James Wan says Amber Heard's 'Aquaman 2' role was not minimized due to Johnny Depp trial

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, from left, Patrick Wilson, director James Wan, Amber Heard and Jason Momoa, members of the cast and crew of the upcoming film "Aquaman," arrive at the Warner Bros. presentation at CinemaCon 2018, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, at Caesars Palace on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
"Aquaman 2" director James Wan, center, has spoken out about Amber Heard's reduced role in the upcoming DC superhero flick. (Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" director James Wan is speaking out about Amber Heard's diminshed role in the forthcoming DC superhero movie.

Last year, Heard said — as part of her testimony during her trial against former partner Johnny Depp — that her part in the sequel to 2018's "Aquaman" had been "very pared down."

"I was given a script and then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it, that depicted my character and another character, without giving any spoilers away, two characters fighting with one another, and they basically took a bunch out of my role," Heard said during the trial. "They just removed a bunch out."

Heard testified during the trial that she nearly lost her role in “Aquaman” due to the media firestorm surrounding her legal battles with Depp. But a former Warner Bros. Pictures executive said she was almost recast not because of the Depp controversy but because she lacked onscreen "chemistry" with star Jason Momoa.

Read more: Amber Heard appears in 'Aquaman 2' trailer amid campaign to remove her from the movie

Now, Wan is insisting that it was always the plan for the latest water-bound action movie to center on Momoa's Arthur Curry and Patrick Wilson's Orm Marius, with Heard's Mera naturally taking on a smaller role.

"I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go. The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera's journey," Wan told Entertainment Weekly. "The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm. So the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie. We'll leave it at that."

After a six-week trial, a jury found in June 2022 that Heard had defamed her former husband in a Washington Post opinion piece and acted with malice by casting him as a domestic abuser. Depp said that cost him millions of dollars and starring roles after decades as an A-list actor.

Read more: How Johnny Depp was victorious against Amber Heard and what it means

Jurors awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The latter was immediately reduced by the judge to meet Virginia’s statutory cap of $350,000.

Heard also got a $2-million verdict for defamation after one of Depp’s lawyers accused her of staging a scene by trashing an apartment and spilling wine to make the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor look guilty of violence.

Read more: Amber Heard, Johnny Depp settle defamation case: 'This is not an act of concession'

The pair ultimately settled their defamation case in December.

In an Instagram post regarding the settlement, Heard wrote, "After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex husband in Virginia. It’s important for me to say that I never chose this. I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed."

Times staff writers Christi Carras and Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.