Experts weigh in on how Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's divorce will impact their careers

Depp and Heard at the Grammys in February 2016.
Credit: John Shearer/WireImage

Will the shocking allegations surrounding Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s acrimonious divorce affect their careers?

On Depp, veteran box office tracker Paul Dergarabedian says, even with accusations of domestic abuse levied against him, “Johnny is a huge star, he’s a huge brand. This is not a good thing, but is this something that will dog his career forever? If history tells us anything, it’s very doubtful.”

One veteran Hollywood insider agrees, but says it won’t be as simple as hoping that time will make audiences forget about the scandal. “He’s going to need to do a big sit-down with someone and explain all of this,” says the insider. “I know he doesn’t do big sit-downs, but this is serious. It can’t just get fixed on late-night shows. His biggest hits were family films.”

His latest, Alice Through the Looking Glass, which opened on May 27, the same day Heard filed her restraining order, came in over $20 million below Disney’s most conservative four-day opening projections, according to Deadline. (The website also notes that box office numbers for sequels have been low across the board this year.)

But Dergarabedian predicts that by the time Depp’s next major box office draw, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, hits theaters in 2017, the actor – and the audience – will have moved on, as long as the film delivers.

“By that time it’ll probably have no discernible impact on [the film] – but it also depends on how all of this plays out,” the expert explains. “Not to diminish the seriousness of what’s being talked about, but generally these things have a pretty short shelf life.”

If Pirates generates positive buzz as 2015’s Black Mass did, for which Depp received a Screen Actor’s Guild nomination for his performance as mobster Whitey Bulger, the actor can move past a string of previous disappointments including 2015’s Mortdecai, 2013’s The Lone Ranger, and 2012’s Dark Shadows.

As for any impact the split could have on Heard’s career, Dergarabedian says the 30-year-old actress, whose most noteworthy roles came last year in Magic Mike XXL and The Danish Girl, has youth on her side to overcome any short-term negativity. “She’s not at his level [of fame], but she’s a lot younger than Depp,” he says. And her star seems to be on the rise. This summer, Heard will start filming her own big budget franchise, Justice League, where she will join an all-star cast including Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill for a prominent role as the Queen of Atlantis and Aquaman’s wife, Mera.

Ultimately, Dergarabedian says that if the stars continue making money, Hollywood will continue working with them. “The bottom line: if the dollars make sense, then they’ll keep finding work.”