EXCLUSIVE: A week into the $50 million defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, the marquee player is about to take the stand.
Depp will testify on his own behalf Tuesday in the exceedingly high-profile case that is taking place in Virginia’s Fairfax County Courthouse, we’ve learned. If all goes to plan, the ex-Pirates of the Caribbean star will take the oath and the stand in front of a seven-person jury, Heard, a platoon of lawyers, the cameras and Judge Penney S. Azcarate during the later part of the morning
Depp will continue on the stand Wednesday for cross-examination, a source close to the actor’s team says.
Depp’s longtime pal and sound technician Keenan Wyatt is also expected to testify Tuesday for the Oscar nominee’s side.
Once the much delayed trial was finally given a start date last year, Depp and ex-wife and Aquaman star Heard were always assumed to be testifying in the bitter multimillion-dollar matter, but it is a surprise that the actor is going so early in what is planned as a five-week trial.
Other big names scheduled to testify during the trial include James Franco, Avengers star Paul Bettany, and potential Twitter boss Elon Musk.
Awaiting the outcome of the case presented by Depp’s Brown Ruddick LLP attorneys Camille Vasquez, Ben Chew and Jessica Meyers, Heard’s testimony has not be given a date yet. Kicking off on April 11 and running Monday to Thursday in the Washington, D.C.-adjacent jurisdiction, the trial will go dark from May 9-12 as Azcarate will be attending a previously scheduled judicial conference.
The already harsh and often explicit court clash between Depp and Heard, who divorced in 2016 amidst restraining orders and competing media narratives, started when the actor sued his Rum Diary co-star in March 2019 in Virginia for a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed about domestic abuse and the potential fallout for victims. The Heard-penned article never actually mentioned Depp by name, but in his subsequent filing the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas actor declared the piece cost him lucrative roles and “devastated” his career.
Since then, as the two have engaged in the legal equivalent of trench warfare, Heard has tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to have the case thrown out or moved to California. Failing that, she countersued her former husband for $100 million in the summer of 2020.
In addition to the direct matter at hand, pink-slipped Fantastic Beasts star Depp, who has a high burden to meet to prove actual defamation, is certainly now attempting to refocus the conventional impression of his behavior. That impression had been solidified in the mind of many by his November 2020 UK loss in a “wife beater” libel action against Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun. Depp has proved unsuccessfully in appeal efforts in that damning case on the other side of the Atlantic.
With a ponytailed Depp and Heard both in the courtroom Monday, the jury heard more video testimony from Dr. David Kipper, who was hired in 2014 to treat Depp for an addiction to opioids.
Kipper said he never witnessed Depp abuse Heard nor did he witness Heard physically attack Depp. He also was serving as Depp’s internist, and said he determined that Depp was experiencing a dopamine imbalance, and he diagnosed him with bipolar disorder, chronic substance abuse disorder, ADHD, depression, insomnia and chronic reflux. The testimony also featured highly charged text-message exchanges between Depp and Kipper where the actor talked of his “monster” and other aggressive statements about Heard and their relationship.
As he did on April 14, Kipper, who still counts Depp as a patient, recounted more details of the aftermath of a March 2015 incident in Australia in which Depp’s fingertip was severed. Debbie Lloyd, Depp’s private nurse who worked with Kipper, testified that she arrived at the Depp-Heard rental home to find it “a mess.”
“I remember there was some writing on the wall and I remember a smashed TV,” she said. But she acknowledged hearing conflicting accounts of how Depp severed his finger. “I had heard that Amber threw a bottle of vodka at him, I had heard that he slammed it with a phone,” she said.
In notes, Lloyd also told the court of a 2014 visit to Depp’s home where the actor “sitting with bloody knuckles” after supposedly punching a white board in frustration. The notes from the nurse additionally stated that on an October 2014 set visit Depp was “verbally aggressive to another person on set so no apparent reason.”
Lloyd told the court via video Monday that she believed Depp and Heard’s arguments during their marriage were a “trigger for him emotionally.”
With Lloyd still on the virtual stand, the court is expected to be in session today until around 2 p.m. PT.
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