Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have only been in court for a few days, as Depp’s libel case against the publisher of British tabloid The Sun unfolds—but the details are already very dark.
Depp sued News Group Newspapers for a Sun article that called him a “wife-beater.” NGN’s defense rests on allegations of domestic abuse from Heard, which Depp has denied. He now insists that Heard used him for his fame, and is framing him as the aggressor when in fact it was her that terrorized him.
Depp and Heard married in . A little more than a year later, Heard filed for divorce—and a week after that, she filed for a domestic-violence restraining order against Depp, claiming that he had been both physically and verbally abusive. A photo of her bruised face later went viral.
In , Heard donated her entire $ million divorce settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. The separation was finalized in . After continued sniping back and forth—both in legal proceedings and in the press—Depp filed a $ million defamation suit against Heard last year, which will be heard in court next January.
Depp and NGN’s court battle has, so far, largely consisted of the company’s attorney, Sasha Wass, confronting Depp with details of Heard’s allegations, as well as corroborating photos, videos, doctors’ notes, and text messages. Depp, in turn, has denied or explained away the allegations—suggesting instead both in his testimony and written statement that Heard fabricated evidence of abuse for years in a Gone Girl-like scheme to gain notoriety and further her career.
On Tuesday morning, Depp and Heard both arrived at London’s High Court of Justice with their faces covered; Depp wore a black bandana, while Heard wore a red polka-dotted scarf. According to Page Six, the proceedings have overtaken five courtrooms due to social distancing.
During his Tuesday testimony, Page Six reports, Depp said that a troubled childhood led him to begin experimenting with drugs at an early age. By age , he said, he’d tried “every drug known to man.”
Heard has said that Depp’s drug use—during which he frequently blacked out—led him to physically abuse her. In court, Depp held firm that he is not a “monster” who would do such a thing. “There were blackouts for sure,” he said Thursday, according to the Daily Mail, “but in any blackout there are snippets of memory.”
Nonetheless, Depp has been asked to explain several now-infamous episodes and allegations while on the stand. Tuesday’s proceedings, for instance, recalled the time in when he trashed a hotel room—totaling $, in damages, Wass said. Depp shrugged the damage off as “a few dents.”
“I was angry. That didn’t mean I had an anger problem. On that occasion, I chose to express my anger.”
“I was angry,” Depp said, per Page Six. “That didn’t mean I had an anger problem. On that occasion, I chose to express my anger.”
Depp also denied actress Ellen Barkin’s allegation, in a written statement, that he once threw a bottle of wine across a hotel room out of anger and jealousy. He claimed it was the result of a grudge.
Wass showed the court a video of Depp kicking the kitchen cabinets in his and Heard’s shared home, and throwing a wine bottle, while Heard was in the room. Depp’s response, per Page Six: “I was violent with some cupboards… Clearly, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. I was upset, very upset.”
Depp and his lawyers, however, are out to prove that Heard’s abuse allegations are nothing more than a bid for fame. Depp told the court that Heard has “a calculating, diagnosed borderline personality.”
“She is sociopathic; she is a narcissist, and she is completely emotionally dishonest,’’ he said in a written statement. As Vanity Fair notes, Depp characterized himself as the de-escalator, rather than the aggressor.
Depp alleged Tuesday that Heard once began repeatedly hitting his head on a private flight—forcing him to hide in the bathroom. “Rage-filled violent incidents on planes were common with Amber,” he wrote in his statement, per VF. “This is not a case about money,” Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne said. “It is about vindication.”
As the trial resumed Wednesday, Depp fended off allegations that he frequently blacked out and, at times, became violent with Heard. He denied kicking Heard in the back during a flight, The Guardian reports; in an email to Heard about the flight, Depp admitted to having consumed two bottles of Champagne, as well as “powders,” and said that as a result he’d turned into an “angry, aggro Injun.” He also later sent her an apology email, the Guardian reports, which Depp defended by saying it was important to “placate” Heard.
The court also listened to a recording of Depp apparently howling “like an animal” after allegedly attacking Heard on a plane while drunk and high, accusing her of cheating on him with her then co-star James Franco before passing out on the toilet, per the Daily Mail. During the alleged tirade he allegedly called her a “go-getter slut” who “liked getting fucked on set.”
Depp confirmed he had consumed alcohol before the flight but said that he spent the flight sketching in a notebook. He claimed Heard had previously called Franco “creepy and rapey.”
In a text to his friend Paul Bettany days after the flight, Depp wrote, “Drank all night before I picked Amber up to fly to LA this past Sunday. Ugly mate. No food for days. Powders. Half a bottle of whisky. A thousand red bull and vodkas, pills, bottles of champers on plane and what do you get?”
Another allegation: that Depp, drunk and high, once dangled Heard’s teacup Yorkshire terrier, Pistol, out a car window while “howling” after a violent fight with Heard, per The Evening Standard. Wass alleged that the day before, Depp and Heard had fought over a painting by her ex-wife, Tasya van Ree, which hung in their home, and that Depp had back-handed her.
Depp said that “hanging a defenseless dog weighing three pounds out of a window is not my idea of fun, although my sense of humor is rather skewed.”
Depp also denied repeatedly slapping Heard for making fun of his tattoo “Wino Forever,” which used to read “Winona Forever,” for his ex-partner Winona Ryder. “I don’t recall any argument about my tattoo,” he said, per The Standard. Both the Pistol story and tattoo story, he said, are “patently untrue.”
“Depp said that “hanging a defenseless dog weighing three pounds out of a window is not my idea of fun, although my sense of humor is rather skewed.””
Wass then went on to examine Depp’s drug use—which Heard said in an unsent letter written in , at the start of their relationship, rendered him “like Dr. Jekyll and Hyde,” according to the Standard. “The problem is I never really know which one I am dealing with until it’s too late.” The letter described a pattern in which Depp would binge, often vomiting or soiling himself, and pass out.
The court also saw, among other images, a photo of Depp seemingly passed out, fully clothed, on the floor beside his bed, per Page Six. Depp claimed he was just sleeping, and that despite his head—shoved into a nightstand—was actually resting on a cushion.
Depp said of the letter, “I would suggest, ma’am, it appears to me Ms. Heard was building a dossier very early on that appears to be an insurance policy for later,” the Standard reports.
When asked if he was suggesting that Heard had carried out a three-year conspiracy to frame him, Depp said, “By everything I’ve seen and experienced, yes.”
Depp also claimed that Heard made no effort to stop his drug use, and that he had seen her use cocaine herself, despite her claim that she has not done so since her teen years. Depp has confirmed he was addicted to the opioid Roxycodone, but denies addiction to any other substance.
But as The Guardian notes, the court also heard about texts from Depp, sent to his friend Paul Bettany, that Wass said reflected his resentment for Heard’s attempts to stop his drug use. The two joked about proving she was a “witch”—and at one point, Depp wrote, “Let’s burn Amber.”
Depp said he was “resentful of the fact Ms. Heard was very aggressive and quite insulting about my use of alcohol.” As Wass noted, these claims ran contrary to his previous claim that she’d made no effort to curb his substance use issues.
The court also heard arguments regarding how Depp’s finger got severed during a fight with Heard in a rented home in Australia, The Guardian reports; the actor claims Heard hurled two vodka bottles at him, one of which sliced his fingertip off exposing bone. Heard claims the injury occurred when Depp smashed a phone into a wall.
Wass read the court an email from Depp to his doctor about the incident, in which he wrote, “I’m so very sad. I cut the top of my middle finger off, what should I do? I’m so embarrassed …” Depp denied that those words were meant to indicate he’d inflicted the injury upon himself—at which point Wass replied, “Are you serious?”
The court also saw photos of the rented home following the argument—after Depp had painted the walls with his bloody finger, writing among other things, “I love u.”
And on Thursday, Depp continued to insist that Heard’s allegations and corroborating evidence are the result of a years-long plot to frame him.
Thursday’s proceedings began with Wass questioning Depp about a detox trip he took with Heard to the Bahamas in , per a Press Association story. Asked if he “pushed and shoved” Heard during the trip, Depp replied, “I didn’t push Ms. Heard or attack her in any way, as certainly I was not in any condition to do so.” He said he “was in no physical condition to push anyone.”
Wass read text messages sent from Heard to Depp’s nurse, who was staying on the opposite side of his private island during the trip, per the Daily Mail. In one, Heard wrote, “Issue seems to have arisen again. All of a sudden he’s flipping. He’s screaming, he’s so mad he pushed me and I asked him to get out. Don’t want to keep you guys.” When the nurse asked if they should come over, she said yes.
“I can only say from my point of view I was in no physical condition to push anyone,” Depp responded, per the Daily Mail. “I’m denying I pushed her. I’m going to suggest that the testimony is fabricated.”
“I believe it’s part of the dossier that was an insurance policy for her,” Depp replied. “I wouldn’t know if she followed the instructions of the nurse to the letter.”
As the Daily Mail notes, Depp said he would sometimes begin to feel sick around : in the afternoon, shaking with stomach cramps. Heard, he said, would tell him he was not due his medication until p.m. “My body clock was needing medication to stop the onslaught… I was not in good shape,” he said per the Daily Mail.
Wass also asked Depp about a time that September when he punched a wall during an argument with Heard, the Daily Mail reports; medical notes say he was found sitting in the kitchen with bloody knuckles.
“I would rather express my anger by hitting an inanimate object than… the person I love,” Depp said.
Notes from Depp’s private doctor, David Kipper, say the actor “romanticizes the entire drug culture and has no accountability for his behavior.” In another note, Kipper writes, “There is also an issue of patience. He is driven almost reflexively by his id. He has no patience for not getting his needs met. He has no understanding of delayed gratification and is quite childlike in his reaction when he doesn’t get immediate satisfaction.” Depp said Kipper had just met himself and Heard, and that he was “not versed in our lives, our life together, as yet.”
Notes from Heard’s psychiatrist claim Depp was surrounded by enablers too intimidated by his fame and money to speak out about his behavior—and that he was threatened by Heard’s career, especially romantic scenes she shared with other actors including James Franco.
“I’m so happy she wants to go to fight this out. She will hit the wall hard. And I cannot wait to have this waste of a cum guzzler out of my life. She will hit the wall hard.”
When asked why Heard would privately tell her psychiatrist these things if they were not true, Depp said, “I believe it had a benefit to her motivation,” the Daily Mail reports.
Wass began Friday’s proceedings by asking Depp to testify regarding Heard’s th birthday party, according to the Daily Mail. The actor said he’d arrived to the party hours late after receiving bad financial news, and granted that he’d likely consumed marijuana to calm himself before returning to their home.
Heard was angry he was late, he said, and rather than join the party he’d gone to their bedroom to read a book. He said he thought her anger over his missing her th birthday was “too much.”
The Daily Mail reports that Depp denied throwing a bottle of champagne at Heard and shoving her to the floor multiple times when she confronted him about his tardiness—as well as leaving a note that read “Happy Fucking Birthday.”
The next day, Depp claims, Heard or one of her friends defecated in their shared bed—which is what prompted him to decide it was time to split up. Heard claimed it was one of the couple’s dogs, but Depp insists that the feces found in the bed by maintenance staff were too large to have come from a tiny dog.
Depp laughed over the incident in texts read to the court, per the Daily Mail. As the actor told Wass, “It was one of the most absurd, unexpected statements that I have ever witnessed in my life so, yes, initially I did laugh because it was so strange.” He later added that he “thought that was a strangely oddly fitting end to the relationship.”
Confronted regarding the incident when he allegedly threw Heard’s phone at her following another argument, the Daily Mail reports, Depp claimed that a series of texts among Heard’s friends, including one from a friend who urged her to call , were all part of Heard’s “choreographed hoax” against him.
The court also heard messages that Depp sent to Heard’s agent, asking for her removal from the Aquaman film, alleging that she’d had an affair with Elon Musk, and plotting her “global humiliation,” per the Daily Mail.
“I have no mercy, no fear and not an ounce of emotion or what I thought was love for this gold digging, low level, dime a dozen, mushy, pointless dangling overused flappy fish market…” he wrote. “I’m so happy she wants to go to fight this out. She will hit the wall hard. And I cannot wait to have this waste of a cum guzzler out of my life. She will hit the wall hard.”
Responding to the ongoing trial, a representative for Heard told Vanity Fair, “Amber never asked for these proceedings to take place. Amber obtained a domestic-violence restraining order against Depp back in and has tried to move on with her life. It is Johnny Depp who brought these proceedings against a British newspaper and has dragged her to the U.K. courts to give evidence on some of the most distressing moments of her life.”