NOTE: This article contains details and descriptions that are graphic and disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.
Amber Heard took the stand for the first time on Wednesday to deliver her testimony against ex-husband Johnny Depp, who is accusing her of ruining his reputation and career with false accusations of domestic violence.
In the legal battle between the two stars, both Heard, 36, and Depp, 58, claim to be victims of violence. The initial court case began when Depp filed a $50-million defamation lawsuit over a Washington Post op-ed penned by Heard in late 2018 about domestic abuse.
Heard did not mention Depp by name in the article, but the actor alleges his reputation and career were still “devastated” as a result.
As she took the stand Wednesday, Heard told the jury this trial process has been “incredibly painful” and “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
She discussed how she met Depp while auditioning for The Rum Diary in 2008, in which they co-starred. She testified the pair bonded over books, poetry and old blues music.
Heard told the court she and Depp fell in love during the film’s press tour. “It felt like a dream,” she said, despite the fact the couple had to meet in secret, as the press did not know yet of Depp’s split from the mother of his children, Vanessa Paradis. “It was absolute magic.”
When asked about how her relationship with Depp evolved in 2012, Heard said the actor began to disappear at times. She also said Depp started drinking heavily, criticized her clothing, and insisted she halt her acting career.
“And then there would be a blow up,” Heard testified, claiming Depp would destroy property, like tables and glasses, and punch walls.
She continued, claiming the first time Depp hit her was when she asked about a faded tattoo on his forearm that read ‘Wino Forever’. She told the court that Depp was drinking wine, and possibly doing cocaine at the time. Heard testified that she laughed about his tattoo and in response Depp slapped her across the face.
“I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do. I thought ‘this must be a joke,'” she said.
Heard said Depp slapped her again. “I just stared at him. I didn’t say anything, I didn’t react. I didn’t move or freak out or defend myself,” she said. “I just stared at him because I didn’t know what else to do. And he slapped me one more time. Hard.”
She said Depp then sank to his knees and began to cry, begging for forgiveness.
Much of Heard’s testimony on Wednesday afternoon chronicled the pair’s sprialling relationship, and she recounted several times when her then-boyfriend allegedly assaulted her and other people.
She told the court that in March 2013 Depp became fixated on a painting that hung on her apartment wall, painted for her by her female ex-partner.
“He was convinced it was a sign I was having an affair,” she said.
One night, she said, Depp was deep into drugs and alcohol and proceeded to push her to admit to an affair and to take the painting down. She said this continued throughout the night.
The next day, she said, she agreed to go with him to a music video shoot in an effort to diffuse the situation, despite having her own plans.
She said that while on the way to the shoot, while driving down a busy street, Depp proceeded to howl “like an animal” while holding his small dog with one hand out the car window.
“I have a memory of everyone in the car not really reacting to him,” she said.
Heard became emotional while telling the court about other fights between the couple – including one particulary disturbing evening with friends where Depp became convinced a woman who was with the group was hitting on Heard.
After grabbing the woman and asking her “do you know how many pounds of pressure it takes to break a human wrist?” Heard said she agreed to go into the nearby trailer with Depp in an effort to get him to calm down.
Inside the trailer, Depp became convinced Heard was hiding his cocaine, she said. She told the court he proceeded to rip off her dress and underwear, violently grope her body, and told her “we are going to perform a cavity search” before shoving his fingers inside her.
By June of 2013, Heard said she was “so torn” about the relationship.
“I was so in love with this person because when it was good, it was so good. But he was also this other thing…and that other thing was awful. An awful thing that would come out and take over.”
She said she also felt conflicted that people found it hard to be honest with Depp and no one told him how out of control his behaviour could be.
“He’d lose control and everyone would clean up after him. I would clean up after him,” she said, recalling times that he’d soiled his pants or gotten sick on himself.
The next month, Heard and Depp decided to take the drug MDMA while on a flight to Russia. Heard said she thought it would be alright to take a “lovey drug”, as MDMA tends to bring out a euphoric and pleasant feeling in users.
However, they weren’t on the flight long when things took a bad turn, said Heard.
Depp convinced the flight attendant to take some MDMA, and then turned violent with her when he though she was getting too close to his girlfriend.
“He grabbed her wrist, slammed it onto the table, and told her he could break her wrist,” Heard testified.
Wednesday’s testimony ended after Heard told the court about the first trip she took with Depp and his children, aboard a yacht he was planning to sell to author J.K. Rowling.
Heard said Depp was hiding his drinking from his children at the time, but after his behaviour on the boat caused his daughter, Lily Rose, some anxiety, Heard felt responsible to comfort the young girl.
She said Depp took objection to the comfort and proceeded to push Heard up against a cabin wall and told her he could kill her.
Soon after that incident, Heard and Lily Rose left Depp and the yacht behind, departing in a helicopter.
On Tuesday, after Depp’s legal team finished questioning their witnesses, Heard’s lawyers asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Depp had failed to make his case as a matter of law and that no reasonable jury could find in his favour.
Judge Penney Azcarate said the standard for dismissing a case at this point in the trial is exceedingly high, and that the case should be allowed to move forward if Depp has provided even a “scintilla” of evidence backing up his claims; she then dismissed the motion.
Heard is countersuing Depp for $100-million.
— With files from The Associated Press