LOS ANGELES - An online petition to have actress Amber Heard, the ex-wife of actor Johnny Depp, removed from the upcoming Aquaman sequel has been gathering steam.
The number of signatures on the long-standing Change.org petition, which was started in 2020, surpassed its initial goal of 3 million on Monday (May 2). A new goal of 4.5 million signatures was then set on the petition.
The surge comes as the former couple battle it out in court in a defamation case that began in April.
The 58-year-old Pirates Of The Caribbean actor is suing Heard, 36, for US$50 million (S$69 million) over a column she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018 in which she described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse". Heard has counter-sued for US$100 million, saying Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.
As juicy details from their marriage were made public, the number of signatures went up by one million over the past week, even though filming had already wrapped on Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom in January.
Heard, who had a meaty part as Princess Mera in the 2018 hit Aquaman movie opposite Jason Momoa, reprises her role as Aquaman's love interest in the upcoming sequel, due out in March 2023.
However, according to film critic Grace Randolph, who tweeted last Thursday (April 28), Heard has "less than 10 minutes of screentime in Aquaman 2".
Selected members of the press reportedly had a chance to watch previews of the movie, currently in post-production. It is not known if their acrimonious divorce played a part in the reduction of her role.
The former couple had finalised their divorce in 2017 after two years of marriage.
During the court case, Depp said he never struck Heard or any woman and that Heard's allegations cost him "everything".
A new Pirates movie was put on hold - he had played the iconic Jack Sparrow character in the movies from 2003 to 2017 - and he was dropped from the Fantastic Beasts film franchise (2016 to present), a Harry Potter spinoff.
On social media, his fans have been vocal that Heard should suffer the same consequences as him.
They have also suggested that Game Of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, who starred opposite Momoa in the fantasy series, was the perfect actress to replace Heard in the Aquaman sequel.