Since April 2022, the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard defamation case has routinely gripped our TikTok FYPs and Google News feeds alike—in turn, being labelled as the biggest Hollywood trial of the century. Although the highly-televised case came to a close on 1 June with the jury awarding the Pirates of the Caribbean actor $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, it seems like some people invested in the court drama are clearly not over it.
As of September, the defamation case has now made its way back to the small screen, this time in the form of a ripped-from-headlines movie called Hot Take: The Depp/Heard Trial.
Set to premiere on Friday 30 September on the American ad-supported streaming service Tubi, Hot Take stars Mark Hapka (previously featured on Days of Our Lives) as Depp and Megan Davis (from Alone in the Dark) as Heard. Melissa Marty (Station 19) and Mary Carrig (Law & Order: True Crime) are also cast as Depp and Heard’s “catfight” lawyers, Camille Vasquez and Elaine Bredehoft respectively.
Written by The Daily Show’s Guy Nicolucci and directed by Sara Lohma, Hot Take is not a documentary but a fictionalised retelling with actors playing the role of real-life people with the trial at the centre. This is probably why its cursed one-minute trailer, which was first dropped on 28 September, goes on to feature the actors involved as nothing more than Walmart versions of the real stars.
Over the course of the trailer, now at 145,000 views and counting on YouTube, Depp can be seen portrayed as a chewing gum-obsessed, indoor sunglasses-wearing celebrity as the storyline frequently jumps back and forth in time to re-enact the audio tapes and incidents that led up to the trial.
“Though there’s support for both sides, there’s clearly a favourite here,” a news reporter is heard saying as Depp admits: “This is not life, no one should have to go through this.” The trailer also provides a glimpse into the heavy support Depp had gathered online while Heard faced tremendous backlash for her statements. “Girl just wants some attention!” a fictional social media user goes on to say in her video.
Tubi reportedly fast-tracked the movie into production with Fox Entertainment’s MarVista Entertainment “to capture a timely take on a story that became part of the cultural zeitgeist, painting a unique picture of what millions watched play out in the headlines over the summer,” as noted by Variety. This is the major reason why netizens are increasingly signing a Change.org petition to stop the release of Hot Take altogether.
“Given the sensitive material discussed in this case, including the dynamics of abuse, spousal rape, domestic violence, domestic abuse and substance abuse, there is a growing concern that this rush to release is focused more on controversy than on care and understanding,” the petition, with 602 signatures and counting, reads. “There is a growing concern that a film like this, if the subject matter is handled incorrectly, will continue to alienate survivors from resources they desperately need.”
“Additionally, the trial is not a completely settled matter—there are still appeals in process, and it seems far too soon to weigh in on the lives of Depp & Heard while this continues to be an ongoing legal matter for both of them,” it continued. “We’re asking that you [to] please consider not going forward with this film.”