2ND UPDATE, 1:23 PM: “I tend to be quite expressive in my writing,” a halting Johnny Depp said Tuesday on the stand of his $50 million defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard.
After previous testimony during the day detailing his dysfunctional childhood and rise to international stardom, Depp shifted focus in the Virginia courtroom to the vile texts and other communications that have come out of attacks on his Rum Diary co-star. The actor also addressed his reported deep-seated issues with drugs and drinks, laying a lot of the blame on his abusive mother and her “nerve pills.”
“It was self-medication,” the former Pirates of the Caribbean star claimed.
With the seven-member jury and Heard herself sitting close by, Depp explained that he started using his mother’s pills at the age of 11 to “take the edge off.” He also claimed that he never took drugs or drank to “party” but to dull “the pain.” Citing the “trauma” of his youth, Depp said his “quote, un-quote substance abuse that has been delivered by Ms. Heard is grossly embellished and sorry to say, a lot of it is plainly false.” He added: “It was an easy target for her to hit.”
“I am not some maniac who needs to be high or loaded all the time,” the 58-year old Depp asserted, also alleging that he had long periods of total sobriety in his life.
In fact, contrary to evidence presented in this case and in the week-old trial, Depp said he was never been “out of control” on a film set or while working.
“When I was with Ms. Heard, and her friends and we were all drinking wine and I was smoking marijuana, they used to tease me for what they said was a ludicrous tolerance because I never appeared bloated or high,” he said. “Even if I felt a little spinny, no one would have ever known.”
Making sure his version of events didn’t completely diverge from what others have said, Depp did admit that he was “addicted” to the prescription opioid Roxycodone after suffering a back injury from performing an action scene on 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. “I was bit by the snake, and before you know it that monkey is on your back to stay.”
Depp added that once he finally kicked the drug, he vowed to stay off it no matter how much pain or discomfort he suffered, such as when one of his fingers was sliced off while on location in Australia in 2015. He said that he didn’t take the opioid again.
With tales of Peter Frampton and Van Morrison records, Clockwork Orange and Last Tango in Paris soundtracks and writers like the Beat Generation and Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Depp delved into his own style of scribbles after some prodding by his lawyer Jess Meyers.
“In my texts, in my emails, and my writings you take the subject itself and you try to express it in your own vernacular,” he said, as the looming specter of hateful and threatening communications with the likes of self-described drug buddy and Avengers alum Paul Bettany, as well as members of his staff and medical team.
Knowing the damning portrait the texts and other communications paint and how effective they could be in Heard’s defense, especially with Bettany on the witness list, Depp took a risky preemptive approach hoping to defang the material.
“I am ashamed of some of the references made and embarrassed at the tone that in the heat of the moment, the heat of the pain I was feeling, went to dark places,” the actor said in a low voice on the stand. “Sometimes pain has to be dealt with humor, and sometimes dark very dark humor,” he went on to testify as Heard watched stone-faced.
“Sometimes you are exaggerating something you’ve done to make him understand you are on Planet Question Mark,” Depp stated of the texts shared with the likes of Bettany that threatened to kill Heard, defile her and more.
Flipping the responsibility, Depp then declared he used horrible terms in texts in reaction to Heard’s claims of domestic abuse and more at his hands.
“After the unfortunate words of Ms. Heard made their way into my heart and my head and those are two very opposing things – and you are trying to find to the best way to express sometime to a friend,” Depp went on to say.
With less than hour left in Tuesday’s testimony, Depp’s attorney turned the actor towards describing how he met Heard and how their relationship developed. Depp described how he referred to Heard as “Slim” and she called him “Steve,” the names of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart’s characters in To Have and Have Not. Depp compared his difference in age to that of Bacall and Bogart.
Set to go to 2 PM PT today, Depp will return to the stand Wednesday for more testimony and cross examination.
UPDATED, 12:29 PM: “Anonymity has left the building …that’s an odd thing to deal with,” Johnny Depp told a packed Virginia courtroom today as the one-time Oscar nominee continued his testimony in the $50 million defamation trial against Amber Heard.
“It all turned around, it went weird,” Depp added of the gifts and curses of the huge success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and the security details subsequently required for himself, “the kiddies” and other members of his family
In what was an arched attempt at presenting the multi-millionaire as just a regularly guy to the Fairfax County jury and onlookers in and out of the court, Depp pushed back against the self-described “disturbing criminal acts” allegations of domestic abuse that his ex-wife and Rum Diary co-star has long claimed.
Spending most of his initial testimony Tuesday ruminating over his troubled childhood and the violence he saw and was subjected to at a young age, Depp also played to the seven-person jury with tales of his early career.
Stressing he signed up for his “some Pepé Le Pew, some Keith Richards,” Capt. Jack Sparrow role in the Pirates franchise in many ways out of watching cartoons with his own offspring, a sometimes rambling Depp sought project an air of an innocent thrust into a world of celebrity, money and power that he never expected or desired.
The actor also spent time carefully constructing a portrait of himself as someone who takes his craft very seriously.
That pose is very important after claims in filings by Heard’s side and prior testimony by others of a seemingly endlessly pampered Depp’s cavalier attitude towards his profession and production. Admitting he never actually saw the first Pirates flick, Depp said “he believed in the character wholeheartedly” and came to know Jack Sparrow better than the screenwriters.
The Edward Scissorhands actor also revealed how profoundly his life and career altered once Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl came out to huge box office success in 2003. As he had earlier in his testimony, Depp emphasized his concern for his kids and their safety amidst all the attention.
“I forgot what the original part of your question was, I got lost in the gauntlet,” Depp told his attorney Jessica Meyers after a detailed description of the throngs of fans he would meet at blockbuster film premieres.
The trial has paused for its 15-minute afternoon break. As she has been every moment since the much postponed trial began on April 11, Heard was watching Depp’s testimony in the courtroom. As she did in the 2020 UK libel trial that Depp lost, the Aquaman actress is scheduled to give her own testimony at some point in the five-week trial on this side of the pond.
PREVIOUSLY, 11:18 AM: “My goal is the truth,” said Johnny Depp on the stand today one week into the $50 million defamation trial instigated by the ex-Pirates of the Caribbean star against Amber Heard back in March 2019. “Lies build upon lies,” he testified.
Calling Heard’s years old allegations of domestic abuse by Depp to her “diabolical,” the actor said he was “doing the right thing” pursuing the high profile case.
“It was a complete shock, it just didn’t need to go in that direction, as nothing of the kind ever happened,” Depp told the Fairfax County Courthouse in a halting voice with no small degree of affectation. “There were arguments, and things of that nature, but never did myself reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in anyway, nor have I struck anyone in my life,” he added.
“It was my responsibility to not only clear my name …I wanted to clear my children of this horrid thing they had to read about their father, that was untrue,” Depp went on to say of his motivation to bring this exposure of he and Heard’s relationship into the public sphere.
“It’s very strange when one day you’re Cinderella, and in 0.6 seconds you’re Quasimodo,” the actor said of his perception of the public perception of him after Heard’s allegations of frequent abuse became public. “I didn’t deserve that nor did my children nor the people who’ve believed in me all these years,” he added with no small degree of humility.
After that clearly well-rehearsed setup, Depp launched into a vivid depiction of his own working class childhood, and the turmoil and violence he experienced growing up. That history has been a vital element of Depp’s legal team’s strategy even before the trial started last week.
Largely uninterrupted by his attorneys, Depp’s discussion of his early years was perhaps more relatable than much of what the jury has heard over the past week, tales of a life of private islands, private planes and a private detox doctor, perhaps beyond the comprehension of jurors even from well-to-do Fairfax County.
Observing her litigious ex-husband testifying, Heard sat close by in courtroom as she has every day since the much delayed trial began on April 11.
The Aquaman star is scheduled to take the stand herself later in the proceedings. Both Depp and Heard testified in the late 2020 U.K. libel trial that saw the actor unsuccessfully move to rebut The Sun tabloid assertion that Depp is a “wife-beater.” While not officially permitted to be heavily referenced during this Stateside trial, the British matter does loom over the Virginia proceedings — at least in the court of public opinion.
Depp will be on the stand on Wednesday for cross examination. The trial is set to run for five weeks. However, it will hit the pause button from May 9-12 as Judge Penney S. Azcarate has a previously scheduled conference engagement.
This latest fray between Depp and Heard, who divorced in 2016 with restraining orders and a media feeding frenzy surrounding them, started when The Tourist actor suddenly sued his ex-wife in March 2019 in Virginia for a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed Heard penned about domestic abuse and the potential fallout for victims.
As has been noted by Heard’s legal team in and out of court, the op-ed never mentioned Depp by name. Yet, in subsequent paperwork, the Hollywood Vampires guitarist proclaimed the article in the Jeff Bezos-owned outlet was clearly referring to him, cost the one-time box office gold actor well-paying roles, a return to the Pirates franchise and “devastated” his career.
In the three years since Depp’s filing, the case has seen Heard unsuccessfully try over and over to have the matter dismissed or shifted to California. As a result, Heard also she countersued Depp for $100 million in the summer of 2020.
While acknowledging that Depp has a high burden to meet for defamation, sources close to the actor’s team say he will “own” his various vices on the stand, but aim to “make sure the truth comes out. “ Long before today testimony, Depp has adamantly denied he ever abused Heard. In fact, he has claimed that he is the victim of domestic abuse in the admittedly tempestuous relationship
It is almost a given that the losing side in this sordid affair will appeal and drag the matter on even further
The earlier part of today saw Depp’s friend and sound technician Keenan Wyatt testifying in a display that did not go as Team Depp had likely hoped.
Unsurprisingly seeking to be complimentary to his long-time pal and paymaster, Wyatt did confirm somewhat embarrassingly that one-time Oscar nominee Depp has been using an ear piece when filming since 1997’s The Brave. Wyatt also was grilled on “a binge with Marilyn Manson for a few days” that Depp allegedly engaged in, plus a pattern of constant absences and tardiness on 2014’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales while production was underway in Australia.
Additionally, in what became a battle of objections between the lawyers in the courtroom, Wyatt detailed to the jury and onlookers his experiences with Depp and his interactions with Heard during the couple’s relationship. “I’ve never seen Johnny be violent to anyone,” Wyatt told Heard attorney Elaine Bredehoft under a sometimes tense cross-examination.
“You don’t know what went on behind closed doors,” Bredehoft declared in an explicit evisceration of Wyatt’s testimony that led to the sound technician defaulting to a cascades of “I don’t recall” and similar statements.
Along with Depp and Heard, A-listers like James Franco, WandaVision’s Paul Bettany and the world’s on-again/off-again richest man Elon Musk are set to testify in the Old Dominion-set trial.
As of right now, the trial runs Monday to Thursday, with Fridays off.
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