Warning: This article may be triggering for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.
Johnny Depp denied ever hitting his ex-wife Amber Heard in a jealous rage, dangling her tiny dog out a car window and being a Jekyll-and-Hyde “monster,” as he was cross-examined for a second day Wednesday by a lawyer for British tabloid The Sun.
The newspaper is defending a libel claim after calling the Hollywood star a “wife beater.”
Depp is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that said he had physically abused Heard.
The case opened on Tuesday and The Pirates of the Caribbean star sat in the witness box and denied Heard’s allegations that he assaulted her on multiple occasions.
Depp, 57, said Heard’s “sick” claims that he assaulted her on multiple occasions were “totally untrue.” He called his ex-wife sociopathic, narcissistic and emotionally dishonest.
While Heard, 34, isn’t on trial, the case is a showdown between the former spouses, who accuse each other of being controlling, violent and deceitful during their tempestuous marriage.
The Sun’s defence relies on Heard’s allegations of 14 incidents of violence by Depp between 2013 and 2016 in locations including Los Angeles, Australia, Japan, the Bahamas and a chartered jet. He denies them all and says Heard attacked him with items including a drink can and a cigarette. He also claims that on one occasion, Heard or one of her friends defecated on his bed.
As The Sun’s lawyer, Sasha Wass, cross-examined Depp, she recounted an allegation of abuse that Heard alleged took place at her home in March 2013, where she said Depp became enraged at a painting by her former partner, artist Tasya van Ree, that hung in her bedroom.
Depp said he “could be jealous” at times but denied Heard’s claim that he took the painting off the wall, tried to set it on fire and slapped his ex-wife when she intervened.
“I did not hit Ms. Heard and furthermore I have never hit Ms. Heard,” the Edward Scissorhands star said.
Depp also denied hitting Heard in 2013 after she laughed at a tattoo he had that read “Wino Forever.” He said he’d had it altered from “Winona Forever” after he and actress Winona Ryder broke up years earlier.
“I don’t recall any argument about any of my tattoos,” Depp said.
The actor rejected every allegation of violence Wass presented to him, dismissing the claims as “not correct” and “patently untrue.”
When Depp was asked about an incident in which he allegedly dangled Heard’s Yorkshire terrier, Pistol, out of a car window, Depp said “it is absolute, utter falsity.”
“That is not my idea of fun, although my sense of humour is rather skewed,” he said.
Depp denied Wass’s suggestion that his memory had been impaired by long-term alcohol and drug abuse.
Wass tried to paint Depp as a volatile personality with a longstanding drug habit and an anger-management problem.
The Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas actor acknowledged taking both prescription and illegal substances since childhood but said Heard’s claim he became a “monster” when he drank and took drugs was “delusional.”
Wass read out an email to Depp that Heard wrote in 2013 but never sent, in which she said he was “like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and called his behaviour a “full-on disco blood bath.”
Depp told the court that Heard’s claims of abuse were a “hoax” and said the email was evidence “that Ms. Heard was building a dossier” as “an insurance policy for later.”
The actor and Wass disputed whether Heard had tried to curb his drinking and drug use.
Heard claimed she tried to support her ex-husband to become sober and never took cocaine during their relationship.
“There were many times in our relationship, early on, where not only did she chop the cocaine with a razor blade into lines, she would then take the cocaine on her finger and rub it on her gums,” Depp said.
Wass said Heard often had two or three glasses of wine during an evening and Depp responded by saying, “Two or three bottles.”
“That is complete nonsense, Mr. Depp,” Wass responded to Depp.
Heard is attending court and is expected to give evidence later in the trial, which is scheduled to last three weeks.
When Depp gave testimony in court on Tuesday, he also denied claims that he hit Heard and accused her of assaulting him and falsely branding him a monster.
“These sick claims are totally untrue,” Depp said in a written witness statement, adding that his ex-wife’s allegations hurt his career and had “been a constant issue in my casting.”
Depp’s legal team, led by lawyer David Sherborne, said in a written statement that “she was the abuser, not him.”
“She is a highly complex and aggressive individual who suffered extreme mood swings, would provoke endless circular arguments, and fly into violent rages,” the statement read.
In written witness statements, Depp said that in Australia in 2015, Heard severed the tip of his finger by hurling a vodka bottle at him. A photo of the bloody digit was included with his witness statement.
The Blow star also claimed that Heard repeatedly punched him in the face on a private jet, which forced him to spend the flight locked in the bathroom.
“Rage-filled violent incidents on planes were common with Amber,” he said in the written statement.
Depp spoke about an incident in which Heard said he hit her and he alleged the opposite.
“As things tended to do, (it) escalated and got physical, ending with a bit of assault. Ms. Heard struck me,” he said.
Depp described himself as the peacemaker who attempted to remove himself from situations between the two of them “before things got out of hand.”
In a written statement, Depp alleged that Heard was “a calculating, diagnosed borderline personality; she is sociopathic; she is a narcissist; and she is completely emotionally dishonest.”
“I am now convinced that she came into my life to take from me anything worth taking, and then destroy what remained of it,” Depp said.
Depp and Heard — who met while filming The Rum Diary in 2011 — were married on Feb. 3, 2015. On May 23, 2016, Heard filed for divorce, seeking spousal support. She cited irreconcilable differences as the reason. They were officially divorced on Jan. 13, 2017.
Four days after filing for divorce, Heard requested a temporary domestic violence restraining order against Depp, which the judge granted after she submitted multiple photos as evidence of alleged assault, one of which purportedly shows the actress with what appears to be a bruise on her right eye. She claimed the incident took place on May 21, less than 48 hours before she filed.
In March 2019, Depp sued Heard in a $50-million defamation lawsuit, citing a piece she wrote for the Washington Post about domestic abuse.
The complaint said that while Depp was not named in the Post article, it was clear Heard was talking about him. The lawsuit called her ongoing allegations of domestic abuse “categorically and demonstrably false.”
“They were part of an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career,” the lawsuit said, claiming: “She is the perpetrator.”
The suit said Depp has suffered financial losses because of the accusations, including being dropped from his role as Capt. Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
In her article, published in the Post in December 2018, Heard also said she lost an acting role and a contract with a major fashion brand because she went public with her claims of abuse.
“I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath,” the actress wrote, adding that she felt as though she was “on trial in the court of public opinion.”
Heard asked a judge to dismiss the defamation lawsuit in April 2019.
Heard’s lawyers reiterated allegations that Depp had abused her and included exhibits such as photos of her with a bruised face and scarred arms.
In August 2018, Depp alleged Heard had assaulted him in April 2016 for being almost two hours late to her 30th birthday party.
According to the court documents, Depp claimed Heard “had been drinking” that evening and “began criticizing” him once her guests left.
Depp had a meeting with his business manager and accountants before the party but alleged he sent Heard multiple text messages to keep her updated.
He claimed he “defended himself by grabbing (her) arms to stop her punching him again and told her to stop.”
Depp then allegedly “pushed her away from him onto the bed” and left the room.
In response to the accusations, a lawyer for Heard said: “These allegations are totally false. One needs only read the recent Rolling Stone article about Mr. Depp and the lawsuit filed against him by a location manager, among many other recent news stories and lawsuits, to understand his state of mind. Mr. Depp is currently being sued in multiple venues, including for assaulting a location manager on the set of City of Lies. On many occasions, eyewitnesses observed the extent of the abuse Mr. Depp inflicted on Ms. Heard.”
In May 2019, Depp said that “while mixing prescription amphetamines and non-prescription drugs with alcohol,” Heard “hit, punched, and kicked me.”
“She also repeatedly and frequently threw objects into my body and head, including heavy bottles, soda cans, burning candles, television remote controls and paint thinner cans, which severely injured me.”
Depp submitted a photo of his black, puffy eyes and scratches. He also detailed an alleged attack by his ex-wife one month after their marriage in Australia and described his efforts to get Heard to sign a post-nuptial agreement.
Depp said the conversation resulted in the severing of his fingertip from a shattered glass bottle thrown at him by Heard.
f you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
Are you or someone you know experiencing abuse? Visit the Department of Justice’s Victim Services Directory for a list of support services in your area.
Women, trans and non-binary people can find an additional list of resources here.
— With files from the Associated Press