In the midst of an ongoing libel lawsuit against British tabloid newspaper the Sun, Hollywood icon Johnny Depp has been defended by two of his former celebrity lovers: Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis.
After being accused of being a “wife-beater” in an article written by the Sun’s Dan Wootton in April 2018, Depp, 56, took legal action against not only the journalist but the outlet’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN).
Ryder, 48, and Paradis, 47, offered supportive statements of the Pirates of the Caribbean star on Wednesday during a hearing, denying he was ever violent or abusive towards them during their respective relationships, according to the Associated Press (AP).
While it never claimed he was violent towards Ryder or Paradis, Wootton’s controversial article — titled “Gone Potty: How can J.K. Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife-beater Johnny Depp in the new ‘Fantastic Beasts’ film?”— was laden with allegations of physical abuse from Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard.
The 34-year-old actress filed to divorce the actor shortly after requesting a domestic violence restraining order against him in May 2016. Depp has continuously denied his ex-wife’s allegations.
“I have known Johnny for more than 25 years. We (were) partners for 14 years and raised our two children together,” wrote Paradis in a witness statement obtained by Variety ahead of the long-delayed libel trial.
“Through all these years I’ve known Johnny to be a kind, attentive, generous and non-violent person and father. He was never violent or abusive to me,” she added.
The world-renowned French singer dated Depp for 14 years from 1998 to 2012. They share two children together: Lily-Rose Depp and John Christopher Depp III.
Ryder echoed Paradis’ words in her own statement, which reads: “I cannot wrap my head around (Heard’s) accusations. He was never, never violent towards me. He was never, never abusive at all towards me.”
The two dated for four years between 1989 and 1993. They even starred in Tim Burton‘s 1990 fantasy-romance film Edward Scissorhands before getting engaged.
A spokesperson for Heard seemingly brushed off their witness statements, insinuating their client’s relationship with Depp was radically different.
“In relation to Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder’s evidence, we are glad they did not have the same experience as Ms. Heard,” said the representative in a statement.
“However, one woman’s experience does not determine the experience of another woman.”
On the other hand, Heard admitted to hitting Depp in a recently released audio recording from 2015.
In the highly controversial audio clip, released in February, the former couple argues about an incident in which Heard allegedly punched and injured Depp.
“After you got f—ing physically violent with me… I texted Travis and I said: ‘Come up here,’” Depp says in the recording.
“You didn’t get punched. You got hit. I’m sorry I hit you like this but I didn’t punch you. You didn’t get f—ing decked. I f—ing was hitting you,” Heard tells Depp before calling him a “f—ing baby.”
Though she did not explicitly deny allegations of physical abuse against Depp or address the leaked recording, Heard’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, told USA Today that Heard was also a victim of abuse in a statement.
Fans of Depp took to Twitter after the audio was released, questioning Heard’s allegations of abuse while calling for #JusticeForJohnnyDepp.
Wednesday’s hearing wasn’t the first time Paradis or Ryder have defended Depp, either.
Less than a week after Heard filed for divorce from Depp, Paradis sent a handwritten letter to TMZ about the “outrageous” domestic violence charges, describing her ex-husband as a “sensitive, loving and loved person.”
“In all these years I have known Johnny he has never been physically abusive with me and this looks nothing like the man I lived with for 14 wonderful years,” she wrote in the letter, adding that she “believes with all her heart” that Depp would not have ever physically abused Heard.
“I can only speak from my own experience, which was wildly different than what is being said,” she said. “I mean, he was never, never that way towards me. Never abusive at all towards me. I only know him as a really good, loving, caring guy who is very, very protective of the people that he loves.”
In his suit, Depp has requested an injunction restraining the Sun from “continuing to publish” accusations of spousal abuse.
Attorneys representing NGN told the court on Wednesday that they agreed to both Paradis and Ryder being witnesses at the upcoming trial.
Additionally, Deep is seeking £200,000 in addition to £10,528 in legal fees and requesting the court assess any potential further damages.
The two-week libel trial was initially set to kick off in a London, England, court on March 25, however it was put on hold due as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The trial was rescheduled to take place in July, however given the uncertain state of the global health crisis, it’s unclear if it will still happen or not.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. You can also reach the centre toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
— With files from Global News’ Katie Scott, Chris Jancelewicz and the Associated Press