“I am here because my ex-husband is suing me for an op-ed I wrote,” Amber Heard said today in Virginia within seconds of taking the stand in the Johnny Depp $ 50 million defamation trial
“I struggle to have the words to describe the words… this is horrible, sitting here for weeks and re-live everything the Aquaman star told her lead lawyer Elaine Bredehoft of the tales of violence and sexual assaults that have been brought up in the trial. “
“This is the most painful and difficult thing I’ve ever gone through, for sure,” Heard added as Judge Penny Azcarte, the jury and others looked on in the courtroom.
Notably, unlike his boisterous stint on the stand, Johnny Depp did not watch his ex-wife deliver her testimony. Instead, seated between two of his attorneys, the sunglasses wearing actor leaned over the table and seemed to be distinctly avoiding eye-contact by scribbling. Depp has been seen in past days to be making drawings while others gave testimony, though it was hard to tell if that was what he was doing Wednesday.
Leaning in to at the start to tell the jurors of her role as a mother now and her working class childhood near Austin, Texas, Heard’s testimony in the Fairfax County Courthouse comes over three years after her ex-husband sued her in March 2019 for a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed she wrote on being a survivor of domestic abuse. Though the piece in the Jeff Bezos-owned broadsheet never actually mentioned the past Oscar nominee by name, the already litigious Depp insisted it was all about him, and that the article cost him big bucks roles in Hollywood and essentially “devastated” his one A -list career.
Today Heard laid out her life up to coming to Hollywood in the first decade of the century. Saying she “worked her butt off,” Heard noted how she at first had “small roles in big movies.” Under questioning from Bredehoft, the actress began to detail meeting Depp for the first time in 2009 in an audition for The Rum Diary. That “remarkable” conversation was filled with talks of “books and poetry” and “old blues,” the actress noted to the court, indicating she was clearly charmed by Depp. Soon after that meeting, Depp called Heard to offer her role in the filmed based on his dead pal Hunter S. Thompson’s writing.
In her testimony, the actress spoke of making the movie in Puerto Rico and how a “flirtatious” vibe developed between the two – who were both in other relationships at the time. Calling it a “beautiful and strange time,” a sometime tearful Heard also detailed a kiss they shared and how they first became involved in LA on the 2011 press tour for the film.
Clearly that beautiful time when the duo were in their “bubble,” as Heard called it and hanging out on Depp’s private Bahamas island did not last.
To that, in a bit of 180 from the couple’s contentious and restraining order defined 2016 divorce, Depp also declared in his 2019 lawsuit that it was he who was the victim of domestic abuse in the relationship, not Heard. That, along with pounding the table figuratively on losing a potentially $ 22.5 million payout to be in a as yet still unmade Pirates 6 flick, has been the thrust of the case put forth by Depp’s legal crew since the Old Dominion-set and much postponed trial started on April 11.
While Heard’s Bredehoft and Ben Rottenborn-led defense team have sought to puncture Depp’s version of events in the admittedly chaotic marriage with tales of drug and booze usage as well as violence, they have been on the backfoot narratively for most of the five-week- long trial so far.
Since suing Heard over the WaPo op-ed in 2019, Depp had a very unsuccessful attempt to go after Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun in the UK. Taking the tabloid to court in London for calling him a “wife-beater” in print, the ex-Pirates star lost that case in November 2020. While not a party in the case, Heard did testify
As was made early in Heard’s testimony today, that legal action on the other side of the pond looms to some degree over this Stateside case. Additionally, after failing herself on numerous occasions to get the $ 50 million defamation matter dismissed or move to another jurisdiction, Heard countersued Depp for $ 100 million in the summer of 2020.
In that context and having been painted by the plaintiff’s side as an abuser suffering from borderline personality disorder both clinically and anecdotally, Heard was initially scheduled as the first defense witness. As Deadline exclusively reported earlier this week, that strategy shifted after the defense team realized they need to redirect the jury’s perspective following the testimony last week by Depp hired Dr. Shannon Curry damningly portrayed Heard as the perpetrator in the Diary Room co-stars difficulties. To that end, a clinical and forensic psychologist r. Dawn Hughes took the stand in front of Judge Azcarte and the jury yesterday as the first defense witness.
Slicing at Curry’s diagnosis and approach, Hughes also delved into not only what she saw as Depp’s often substance fueled psychical, emotional and verbal violence, but also repeated acts of sexual assault upon Heard.
Heard’s testimony is expected to last the rest of the week. The trial runs Monday to Thursday, with the court closed on Friday. The case will stop next week as Judge Azcarte has a previously scheduled conference to attend. Playing to the calendar, Heard’s team will likely try to run down the clock to keep cross examination until after the break.