Johnny Depp, probably most famous for his role as Jack Sparrow in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise, took the witness stand on Tuesday in his defamation case against Amber Heard, his former wife.
The actor’s three-hour-long testimony as seen in video from the trial covered just about everything, from his childhood abuse by his mother, to his rise to fame and his struggles with substance abuse as he confronted his ex-wife’s “heinous” accusations against him, saying he was after “truth” and never struck her despite her allegations.
“Six years ago, Ms. Heard made some…quite heinous and, disturbing—brought these disturbing criminal acts against me that were not based in any species of truth. It was a complete shock that it would…it just didn’t need to go in that direction,” Depp said haltingly during his testimony.
Depp, 58, is accusing Heard of lying and defamation, primarily for penning an essay that was published in The Washington Post in 2018 where she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although the essay doesn’t mention Depp by name, it’s widely understood that Heard, 35, was referring to Depp as her abuser in the piece.
(Video: Entertainment Tonight)
The defamation case is being held in Fairfax County, Virginia, where The Post keeps its online servers and is expected to last for several weeks. Depp has accused Heard of weaponizing his history of drug and alcohol abuse against him in divorce proceedings and in the court of public opinion.
“Once you’ve trusted somebody for a certain amount of years and you’ve told them all the secrets of your life,” Depp explained during his testimony, “that information then, of course, can be used against you…I am not some maniac who needs to be high or loaded all the time.”
He staunchly denied ever hitting Heard, saying he had never “struck a woman in my life,” and detailed the effects of her accusations on his children as well as his personal and professional life.
“Because the news of this accusation had sort of permeated the industry and then made its way through media and social media … and since I knew that there was no truth to it whatsoever, I felt my responsibility to stand up not only for myself in that instance but stand up for my children who at the time were 14 and 16,” Depp said.
Amber Heard—who’s had some success with her roles in films like “Aquaman,” “Drive Angry,” and “Zombieland”—was briefly married to Depp from 2015-2017. The marriage was, by all accounts, a tumultuous one, and was chiefly notable for a bizarre “hostage video” filmed for the Australian government, in which the couple apologized for smuggling their dogs into the country.
Heard, for her part, has consistently maintained that Depp was extremely abusive throughout the course of their toxic relationship.
“During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny Depp has been verbally and physically abusive to me,” she said in a sworn statement in 2016, when she sought a protective order against the actor. This was in relation to an incident in which the actress alleged Depp struck her in the face with a cellphone.
Their former couples therapist, Laurel Anderson, testified that they were both essentially pretty lousy spouses and that the abuse seemed to have been “mutual,” according to NBC News.
Depp spoke at length of emotional and physical abuse by his mother and described taking her “nerve pills” at the age of eleven, which led to further substance abuse later in life. But he pushed back against claims that he was a drug-addled abuser who frequently lost control.
“When I was with Ms. Heard and her friends and we were all drinking wine and I was smoking marijuana,” he recounted on the stand, “they used to tease me because of what they sort of said was a ludicrous tolerance. Because I’ve never appeared loaded or high or any of that…no one would have ever known.”
He also spoke of the beginning of his relationship with Heard, and how he noticed “unusual reactions” if he upset her, such as when he took his own boots off one day after coming home from work. Heard, he said, became angry with him and said that it was “her job” to remove his boots.
“She was attentive, she was loving, she was smart, she was kind, she was funny, she was understanding. We had many things in common,” he said of their relationship initially, adding, “It was amazing.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life,” he said, but noted that in a short year and a half later, “she had become another person.”
“It has been six years of trying times,” Depp said. “It’s very strange when one day you’re a Cinderella, so to speak, then in 0.6 seconds, you’re Quasimodo. I didn’t deserve that, nor did my children, nor did the people who believed in me all these years.”
It’s not the first time Depp has brought legal action in connection with the couple’s rocky relationship and divorce. In 2020, he filed a libel suit in the United Kingdom against the publishers of The Sun, which labeled him a “wife beater” in a 2018 article. Depp lost that case, with the judge ruling the newspaper had substantiated its claims with sufficient evidence.
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