EXCLUSIVE: Amber Heard will take the stand next week as the first witness for her defense in the $50 million defamation trial instigated by Johnny Depp.
The Aquaman actress could begin her testimony in the Fairfax County Courthouse as soon as Monday, once Depp’s team finish their case, we hear.
How To Watch The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Trial: Livestream And Schedule
Before the April 11 start of the much-delayed five-week trial in Virginia, Heard tried unsuccessfully on numerous occasions to have the suit filed in March 2019 by her ex-husband and Run Diary co-star dismissed or moved to another jurisdiction. In summer 2020, the actress filed a $100 million countersuit against Depp.
There is a chance that Heard’s time on the stand could be changed if a substantial shift occurs in the plaintiff’s closing witnesses, we’re told. But that is seen as unlikely at this late in the game.
Representatives for Heard had no comment when contacted by Deadline about the actress’ testimony schedule. “It’s hard to see how Amber won’t prove to be a highly effective weapon against Depp in her own advocacy,” an industry insider with connections to both camps did tell Deadline. “Regardless of how they have tried to characterize her, she has been nothing but well composed and pretty conservative in court without having said a word.”
Repeatedly and vehemently denying Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse at his hand during their relationship, the former Pirates of the Caribbean star spent four days giving testimony in the highly charged matter. While often long winded and full of non sequiturs, as well as prickly under cross examination, Depp’s April 25-concluding stint on the stand sought not only to hobble Heard’s claims but also assert that the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas actor was the real victim of domestic abuse.
Depp also has insisted that Heard’s claims during their restraining order-filled 2016 divorce and the late-2018 Washington Post op-ed on domestic abuse that sparked his lawsuit cost him lucrative roles like in the as-yet-unmade sixth Pirates film. That contention was challenged by Heard’s lawyers. In fact, Depp himself revealed in his testimony that he would not return to the Disney-based franchise even if he were offered “$300 million” and more. The actor also quipped in an aside that his now-ex got her role in Aquaman thanks to him.
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Along with Depp, Heard long has been set to give live testimony in the Old Dominion trial, just like both of them did in the past Oscar nominee’s failed 2020 UK libel suit against Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife-beater.” Unlike the trial on the other side of the Atlantic, Heard is an actual party in this case.
James Franco and would-be Twitter owner Elon Musk, who came up today in court, were on the witness list submitted by Heard’s team last month before the trial began. Whether they actually are called to testify remains unknown. Avengers alum and Depp drinking buddy Paul Bettany was on his pal’s witness list, but wasn’t called to the stand despite the violent and threatening 2013 text exchange between the two getting a lot of time in the limelight of the trial.
The Virginia trial runs Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to around 5 p.m. ET, with both the often-sunglasses-wearing Depp and Heard in attendance and seated with their respective attorneys. The trial is dark on Fridays. Judge Penny Azcarate has a prescheduled conference to attend from May 9-12, so the trial will pause over that week.
Following pre-recorded testimony from a representative of the ACLU, today saw Depp’s accountant Ed White involved in a barbed back and forth with defense lawyer Ben Rottenborn over the state of his client’s depleted finances in 2015.
Despite their differences on the “catastrophic” state of multimillionaire Depp’s cashflow, the circumspect White confirmed in his live testimony that Depp was “delinquent” in his taxes to the tune of some very big bucks, as the actor looked on stern faced. Refuting to some extent one of the plaintiff’s side’s main thrusts against Heard, White also admitted on the stand that the Aquaman star always was intending to give her the charitable donations of her $7 million divorce settlement in installments and not lump sums.
Other witnesses today included a number of members of Depp’s security staff from over the years. All predictably testified, as best they could, that the actor, who was grinning watching his former employees, never really laid hands on the “feisty” and “demanding” Heard or anyone else.
Speaking to the courtroom over a live video feed from the UK this afternoon, Depp’s longtime security guard Malcolm Connolly detailed the “chaos” he witnessed and Heard “berating” Depp at the couple’s rented Australia home in 2015.
During the already-stormy filming of the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie down under, part of Depp’s right hand middle finger was sliced off on March 7 of that year. How that bloody severing occurred has been a matter of dispute between the Depp and Heard camps. Depp says Heard threw a bottle of vodka at him and broken glass cut him. Heard claims that an enraged Depp slammed a “hard plastic phone” against a wall and cut himself in the process.
At one point Thursday, there was a kerfuffle over the playing of an audio tape from that night in Australia with the plaintiff’s side not wanting the piece of their own evidence made public to the jury and courtroom. Judge Azcarate noted it was entered evidence and hence could be used. The brief snippet of the tape revealed a raging Depp, clearly screaming at Heard. Lawyers for Heard also contended that Connolly was not paying attention to the actress’ condition or potentially bruised appearance as the security guard was primarily concerned with trying to get Depp out of the house and eventually to a doctor.
Thursday’s session ended just before 5:30 p.m. ET with more testimony from the plaintiff’s witnesses coming Monday.
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