Johnny Depp took the stand Tuesday in the trial involving him and ex-wife Amber Heard in dueling defamation lawsuits, calling her domestic abuse allegations against him “heinous and disturbing” and “lies.”
This is all unfolding in a Fairfax, Virginia courthouse where Depp is suing Heard for $50 million for defamation. The lawsuit centers around a 2018 op-ed Heard penned for the Washington Post, in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though Depp is not mentioned by name, he argues the article implies that he is the abuser in the piece. Depp’s lawyers say Heard was the abuser in the relationship, not him. Heard is counter-suing, also for defamation, for $100 million.
In his testimony, Depp described Heard’s accusations as “quite heinous and disturbing” and criminal acts that “were not based in any species of truth.”
“It was a complete shock […] it just didn’t need to go in that direction,” Depp said during his in-person testimony, which was live-streamed on the Law & Crime Network YouTube channel.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor explained that though “there were arguments,” he never himself “ever struck any woman in my life.”
Despite this, Depp said accusations with “no truth to it whatsoever” permeated traditional media and social platforms, to the point that his then-high school-aged children “would have to go to school and have their friends or people in the school approach them with the infamous People magazine cover,” purporting to show Heard with a bruise on her face from Depp.
“And then it just kept multiplying. It just kept getting bigger and bigger. So it was my responsibility. I felt to not only attempt to clear my name for the sake of for many reasons, but I wanted to clear my children of of this horrid thing that they were having to read about their father that was, which was untrue.”
Likening the experience to a macabre fairy tale, Depp added, “One day you’re a Cinderella so to speak and then in 0.6 seconds you’re a Quasimodo.”
Depp went on to detail the physical abuse he and his family endured growing up at the hands of his mother, including administering abuse to his father. This would sometimes lead to Depp’s father punching a wall and injuring his hand, but Depp said he never laid hands on the children.
Yesterday, Depp’s security guard detailed how the fights between Depp and Heard progressed over the years. Sean Bett explained he even documented injuries, such as scratches and bruises, on Depp’s face, but that he never saw injuries on Heard or heard of her complaining of abuse.
A nurse working for Depp’s personal doctor also testified he had been treated for “scraped and bloody knuckles” after punching a wall during a fight. In a pre-recorded deposition, Dr. David Kipper also testified he never heard Depp complain about Heard physically abusing him, nor did he witness Depp physically abuse anyone, in his six years of treating him.
Last week, the couple’s former marriage counselor testified the two would engage in “mutual abuse.” Therapist Laurel Anderson also said she had seen bruises on Heard’s face.
Heard is also expected to testify at some point during the trial, which is expected to last more than a month.
Depp gave more specific details about the physical abuse he endured as a child from his mother, the “strange” behavior he observed early on in his relationship with Heard, and the breakthrough moments that contributed to his early acting career.
Depp characterized his mother as “quite unpredictable,” and that she “could become quite violent” and cruel.
“There was physical abuse, certainly, which could be in the form of an ashtray being flung out, hit you in the head or you get beat with a high heeled shoe or telephone or whatever’s handy,” Depp said.
However, the psychological abuse was even harder to deal with, he said. One example is that Depp’s mother called him “cockeyed” due to his having a lazy eye. The actor, who used to have to wear an eyepatch as a child, is now legally blind in his left eye.
Eventually, Depp said his father completely left the family.
When it came to Depp’s early relationship with Heard, he described the first year and a half to be “amazing.”
“She was attentive, she was loving, she was smart, she was kind, she was funny, she was understanding,” Depp said, adding that they also had a lot in common, such as an interest in Blues music and literature.
However, Depp said he began to observe behavior from Heard “that I thought might be a little bit of a dilemma at some point.”
Depp said Heard insisted on sitting him down once he got home from work, removing his shoes, and giving him a glass of wine. Though Depp said he “never experienced anything like that” in his life, it soon became “routine” for her.
One night, Depp said he thought Heard was busy, so he decided to take off his own boots. After that, Heard approached him “with this look on her face.”
According to Depp, Heard then asked him, “What did you just do?” When Depp explained he took his own boots off because he thought she was busy, Depp said she told him, “No, no, no, that’s my job. That’s what I do. You don’t do that. I do that.” After that, she brought Depp a glass of wine.
” I did take pause of course. The fact that she was visibly shaken were upset that I had broken her rules of routine. I thought that strange and then once that…once you notice something like that, then you start to notice other little tidbits and things that come out. […] And then within a year or a year and a half. She had become this another person almost.”
Depp also detailed the early part of his career, making the leap from an unknown musician in a band to becoming a big-screen actor, thanks a friendship with another, then-lesser-known movie star, Nicolas Cage.
“I was filling out job applications at any video stores, clothing stores, anything and just to be able to pay the rent and Nic Cage said, you know, well, why don’t you meet my agent, you know?” he said.
It was because of this connection with Cage that Depp was able to be represented by an agent, Ilene Feldman. Soon after that, Depp landed the role for his first film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, in 1984.
Depp said of his life that as his career expanded, especially after landing the role of Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films — a time in his life in which he had small children, with his then-partner Vanessa Paradis — “anonymity has left the building a long time ago.” As such, he has had to ramp up his security personnel over the years due to him and his family “getting followed by hordes of paparazzi.”
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, or if you believe someone you know is being abused, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE or spoken with online via the hotline’s website. Mobile phone owners can also text “START” to the number 88788.