Hamada, President of DC-based film productions for Warner Bros., said that, in pre-production for the second film, which is due out next year, there was a weeks-long period where the studio considered recasting Heard's role. It was not, Hamada claimed, due to any comments from Depp or his team, but rather, "It was all concerns about whether she was the right bit of casting for the movie."
"It was the concerns that were brought up at the wrap of the first movie, production of the first movie, which was the issue of chemistry. Did the two have chemistry?" Hamada testified. "I think editorially they were able to make that relationship work in the first movie, but there was a concern that it took a lot of effort to get there. Would we be better off recasting, finding someone who had more natural chemistry with Jason Momoa and move forward that way?"
Later in his testimony, Hamada returned to the issue of chemistry, claiming that Heard and Momoa "didn't really have a lot of chemistry together."
"The reality is, it's not uncommon on movies for two leads to not have chemistry and that it's sort of movie magic and editorial, the ability to sort of put performances together with the magic of a great score and how you put the pieces together you can fabricate sort of that chemistry," he said. "At the end of the day, I think if you watch the movie, they look like they had great chemistry, but I just know through the course of the post-production, it took a lot of effort to get there. Sometimes it's very easy, you just put the characters on the screen together and they work, and sometimes it's harder."
Pressed about his use of the word "fabricate," which is defined as to invent or concoct something, typically with deceitful intent, Hamada conceded that it's the job of all filmmakers to choose the best takes, music and other elements for a project.
"It's editorial, a good editor, good filmmakers, can pick the right takes, pick the right moments, and put scenes together," he said. "Score, the music in the scene, makes a big difference. It can make a happy scene feel sadder or a sad scene feel happier. It's just the magic of post-production, editing, sound, sound design, music, etcetera."
"That is what we do in post-production. That's what filmmakers do," Hamada added. "On any production you're doing that, you're putting performances together. Sometimes it's easier than others. This one was more difficult because of the lack of chemistry between the two, but [the director] James Wan and the editor were able to get it to a place where the end result actually works and it's great."
The day before Hamada's testimony, industry expert Kathryn Arnold took the stand on behalf of Heard, and claimed that, after Depp's lawyer, Adam Waldman, called Heard's claims of abuse a "hoax," the actress' role in the sequel was radically "diminished."
Hamada denied that, testifying that Heard was never meant to be a co-lead in the second Aquaman film.
"The character's involvement in the story was sort of what it was from the beginning," Hamada said of Heard's role. "... The movie was always pitched as a buddy comedy between Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson."
Arnold further claimed that Heard's salary for the second Aquaman movie could have been higher if not for the statements made by Waldman.
Hamada refuted that too, testifying that Heard had an option in her contract for a second film, which means that her salary was already decided before any alleged statements by Depp or his team.
"It was a big part of our philosophy that we were going to hold people to their options moving forward," he said of Heard's pre-negotiated salary.
However, Hamada did agree with one part of Arnold's testimony, as he confirmed that Momoa was able to renegotiate his salary for the second film, and Heard was not.
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