Johnny Depp’s longtime agent testified Thursday that his star power declined over the course of years due to his erratic behavior, and that at one point he asked his agency to give him $20 million because he needed money.
Tracey Jacobs, a top agent at United Talent Agency, represented Depp for 30 years until he fired her — and his his longtime lawyer and management firm — in 2016. Jacobs appeared by video deposition on the 19th day of Depp’s defamation trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, whom he accuses of destroying his career with false allegations of domestic violence.
Jacobs testified that over the last 10 years of her representation of him, Depp would habitually show up late to set. He ultimately got a reputation that made it harder to get jobs for him, she said.
“Initially crews loved him,” she said. “He was always so great with the crew. But crews don’t love sitting around for hours and hours and hours waiting for the star to show up.”
Jacobs said that sometimes she would get yelled at, and that she tried to impress on her client that he was hurting his career. In addition, she noted an increased use of alcohol and drugs. At one time, she said that Depp had been “the biggest star in the world,” but that was no longer true by the time he fired her in October 2016.
“His star had dimmed due to it getting harder to get him jobs,” Jacobs said. “People were talking. The question was out there about his behavior.”
Heard’s lawyers also called Joel Mandel, Depp’s former business manager, to testify about his out-of-control spending. Also appearing by video, Mandel testified that Depp began to lead a “bigger” and “more expensive life” after the runaway success of “Pirates of the Caribbean” in 2003. But in later years, Depp’s income waned as several other films did not do as well.
“The spending levels had grown very, very, very large,” Mandel said. “It required that level of incredibly high income to be maintained. When it dropped off, the disconnect became untenable.”
In 2015, Mandel warned Depp that he was in “dire” financial condition, and urged him to cut back on his spending and sell his French chateau. Though Depp seemed at times to get the message, Mandel said that ultimately there was little follow-through. Depp fired Mandel in March 2016, and later sued him. Mandel’s company countersued, alleging that Depp was responsible for his financial problems and documenting numerous lavish expenditures. That litigation was settled in 2018.
In her testimony, Jacobs said that Depp came to UTA and asked them to give him $20 million. He had a meeting with UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer and Chairman Jim Berkus, in which they declined to do that.
“They said we’re not in a position to give our clients that kind of money,” Jacobs testified. “We’re not a bank.”
Depp did not specify why he needed the money, but did say that he had made a lot of money for the agency over the years, she testified. She said the agency ultimately helped him get a loan from Bank of America.
Jacobs also indicated that Depp’s image has been harmed by the series of lawsuits he has filed.
“These lawsuits don’t help,” she said. “It’s endless.”
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