The burning question in any Hollywood divorce is: Who’s going to get all that money? That’s particularly true when you’re talking about an A-lister with 30-plus years in the entertainment business and roles in more than one blockbuster franchise, such as Johnny Depp, and someone like Amber Heard, a more moderately successful star on the front end of her career. And especially when the couple in question didn’t, for whatever reason, have a prenup.
Heard, 31, filed for divorce from Depp, 52, on Monday, after 15 months of marriage, kicking off what’s sure to be another contentious celebrity divorce. Although the couple didn’t have any children together, TMZ reports that Heard’s filing did include a request for spousal support, and that Depp’s response asks that his wife’s request be denied. The actress filed in California, a community property state where everything earned during the marriage is divided equally between the divorcing spouses.
Divorce lawyer Vikki Ziegler, star of Bravo’s Untying the Knot, tells Yahoo Celebrity that Depp “made a very big mistake” by not having a prenuptial agreement to protect his fortune, which has been reported at as much as $400 million.
Forbes reports that Depp earned as much as $92 million in 2006, taking home $60 million for starring as swashbuckler Captain Jack Sparrow in that year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, thanks to his deals to be paid part of his salary up front and the rest based on the film’s box office receipts.
Again, why didn’t he consider a prenup?
“Even though they were married for just little over a year, quantifying her lifestyle and what she deserves after being married to Johnny Depp is going to take some negotiation,” Ziegler says. “There is no exact science when it comes to someone’s lifestyle, but I can make a guess that she is buying the best clothes, traveling in jets, driving around in a high-end luxury vehicle, and will not go away for chump change.”
Heard had parts in Magic Mike XXL and awards darling The Danish Girl while she was with Depp, but she’s not bringing in the same kind of money. Estimates of her worth vary widely, and she’s never made it onto the Forbes list of highest-earning celebs. Heard’s reportedly paid in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, although that could change soon, with appearances lined up in the upcoming superhero flicks The Justice League and Aquaman.
“The court will look at what her needs are, and how much money she actually will need for no more than the length of the marriage, to support herself and get her back on her feet alone,” Ziegler says. “If there are any joint assets together that Johnny Depp put her name on, she will get half. She will keep any gifts that she received from him, as well as the wedding and engagement rings.”
At least Depp can afford it. While the three-time Oscar nominee isn’t exactly a fresh face in Hollywood, he’s still pulling in big money. The Alice Through the Looking Glass actor ranked No. 87 on Forbes magazine’s latest Celebrity 100 list of the world’s highest-paid entertainers. According to the list, Depp raked in $30 million between July 2014 and June 2015. His earnings after that will be part of this year’s report.
A staggering number, yes, but nothing unexpected for Depp, says Forbes staff writer Natalie Robehmed.
“He’s one of the few actors who can readily command over $10 million or $20 million per film,” Robehmed, who covers media and entertainment for the magazine, explains. “It’s pretty impressive that that has shown no sign of [ending]. He joined our list of Celebrity 100 in 2004, and now, 12 years later, he’s probably still earning enough to be on it, which is pretty impressive longevity.”
Robehmed adds, “It’s a pretty elite squad of people like him — Tom Cruise, to a certain extent Brad Pitt, although he’s had some differing years — that have really been around for that long.”
All of this would seem to be bad news for Depp. The bright spot, however, is that leading men can potentially score lucrative roles much later in life.
“Liam Neeson became an action star in his 60s, so [age] doesn’t seem to be an issue,” Robehmed notes.