Hollywood stars Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are having a mud fight in front of a US court – now the bitter legal battle is entering the final round. Depp took the stand again.
The same scenes have been playing out in front of the brick-red courthouse in the US district of Fairfax in Virginia for weeks: hundreds of fans line the street, loud cheers break out when Johnny Depp pulls up in front of the court.
Beaming, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star waved to his followers from the dark SUV vehicle on Wednesday morning (local time). On the other hand, significantly fewer fans cheered on the “Aquaman” actress Amber Heard on her way to court.
For six weeks, the ex-husbands have been publicly arguing their bitter dispute over allegations of violence and abuse. The mud fight in front of the jury is broadcast by court cameras. Onlookers queue up at night to get one of the hundreds of coveted seats in the courtroom. Now the countdown is on – the closing arguments are expected on Friday, then the case goes to the seven jurors.
Heard: “I’m being harassed every single day”
The process brought her countless mean things, Heard said on Thursday. “I’m harassed, humiliated and threatened every single day just by walking into this courtroom,” the actress said. “I regularly get hundreds of death threats, almost every day. Thousands since this process began. People make fun of my statements that I was abused.”
Depp once told her that if she left him, he would make sure she thought of him every day of her life, Heard said. “Johnny has taken enough of my voice and the right to tell my story. I have the right to tell what happened.”
Depp, in a dark suit with his hair combed back in a ponytail, once again defended himself against Heard’s allegations on Wednesday. It was “insane” to listen to them. During questioning by his legal team, the actor described the allegations as “terrible”, “ridiculous”, “incredibly brutal”, “cruel”, “humiliating” and “completely false”. He “never” used physical violence, assured Depp.
Ex-spouses are hard on each other
At the beginning of his statement in April, Depp admitted that there had often been arguments in their relationship. “But I never got to the point of hitting Miss Heard in any way, nor have I ever hit a woman in my life,” he said under oath. Rather, the actress had a “need for violence” and attacked him.
Heard was also harsh in the course of the trial with Depp. Partly in tears, she described alleged incidents in which she was the victim of his outbursts of anger and attacks. According to her, Depp, especially when intoxicated, was often violent. The man she loved had become a “monster” due to his addiction. The actress described verbal attacks in which Depp allegedly threatened to kill her. He called her a “whore” and accused her for no reason that she was cheating on him. There was also sexual violence. Heard’s lawyers showed photos of the actress, such as a bruise on her upper arm.
The spectators in court were spared nothing. The lawyers on both sides brought out the heavy artillery: shocking cell phone videos with the worst insults, descriptions of alcohol and drug excesses, a severed fingertip, sexual abuse with a bottle and faeces in bed.
Dozens of witnesses spoke at the trial, including actors’ assistants, psychologists, police officers, financial advisors and film experts. Celebrities also testified. The appearance of the supermodel Kate Moss, an ex-girlfriend of Depp, lasted only a few minutes on Wednesday. The 48-year-old British woman, connected to the court via video from England, defended Depp. “He never pushed me, kicked me, or threw me down a flight of stairs,” Moss said. In doing so, she countered a statement by Heard that had addressed an alleged attack by Depp on Moss.
Actress Ellen Barkin, who was friends with Depp in 1994, had sided with Heard. In a recorded video statement, she described the actor’s outbursts of anger, controlling behavior and frequent drug use. The defenders’ long list of witnesses also included Tesla boss Elon Musk, Heard’s ex-boyfriend, and fellow actor James Franco – but neither of them testified in the end.
Divorced after 15 months of marriage
Depp and Heard met while filming The Rum Diary in 2009. Their romance began in 2011 while on a promotional tour for the film, following Depp’s split from his longtime partner, French actress Vanessa Paradis, with whom he has two children. Depp and Heard married in 2015, but after just 15 months of marriage, the actress filed for divorce following allegations of domestic violence.
In the courtroom, the ex-husbands sat just a few feet apart. Depp avoided eye contact, often keeping his head down.
In his civil lawsuit, Depp alleges that the actress made false statements in a 2018 op-ed about domestic violence published by the Washington Post. This damaged his reputation and his career. He is suing for around 50 million dollars (a good 46 million euros) in damages for defamation. Heard counterclaims $100 million. She claims that Depp’s ex-lawyer Adam Waldman damaged her reputation with a smear campaign.
Two years ago, Depp suffered a defeat in London with a lawsuit against the tabloid “Sun”. It was about an article that claimed Depp had physically abused Heard as a “wife beater”. After a trial with fierce allegations, the High Court ultimately dismissed the lawsuit. The majority of the allegations mentioned in the newspaper turned out to be true, the judges stated in their verdict.
He was “obsessed” with bringing the truth to light and clearing his name, Depp said at the start of the ongoing US proceedings. This process was not easy for anyone, the actor reflected on the witness stand on Wednesday. “But no matter what happens, I came here and I told the truth.” Now seven jurors have the final say.