2nd UPDATE, 12:07 PM PT: Facing cross examination on his second stint on the stand, Johnny Depp took once last chance to swing back against an abundance of explicit and vile text message attacking Amber Heard, past lawsuits, and allegations of abuse.
“Suddenly, I’m scum,” the fired Fantastic Beasts star told the Virginia courtroom of his response several years ago to domestic abuse claims by the Aquaman star. “I was Charles Manson, I was the worst thing on Earth. It kept coming, it was a non-stop fire.”
“Never” said Depp in his final statement on the stand when asked if he ever abused Heard.
Occasionally facile and clearly confident , the rebuttal witness for his own $50 million defamation trial against Heard faced a grilling in the Fairfax County Courthouse from the Aquaman star’s attorneys Wednesday. With Heard’s team having lost traction over the last week, the back and forth in their final attempt to undermine the former Pirates of the Caribbean actor’s contention that he was in fact the one who was abused in the vociferous relationship.
In response to the so-called fire that Depp mentioned at one point today, the actor wanted in 2016 to tell Warner Bros that they could have “two franchises that would be causing problems to each other” and could “end up ugly.”
After losing his 2020 UK libel suit against The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater” in print, it was Depp who suffered WB’s axe with a quick cut from the second sequel in the J.K. Rowling franchise. Heard was one of the major actors in the Jason Momoa-led 2018 DC blockbuster but was almost dropped from the as-yet unreleased The Lost Kingdom sequel and saw her role reduced.
Though Depp did not deny he told his ex-UTA agent Christian Carino in the summer of 2016 that he was “so happy this cum guzzler is out of my life” and “ I can only hope karma kicks in and takes the breath out of her,” the past Oscar nominee wasn’t always so definitive on the stand. During one exchange, Depp sought to weave away from other invective communication with vague notions that some one may have taken or started using “my phone.”
Neither Depp nor his attorneys offered no proof of this claim. Oddly, Heard’s defense team failed to leap on the conspiratorial talk, which was virtually a gift to them.
In that vein, as she has in the past, Judge Penney Azcarate appeared reluctant to rein in Depp’s answers and remarks, which at times went on and on. Additionally, Heard lawyer Ben Rottenborn scrambled at times to keep the cross examination on track over the empowered Depp’s commentary and distractions.
A part of this trial and case from the very beginning, Depp’s exaggerated language in his texts and other communications got a bit of a pass too.
“When you are accused of horrific acts and thing you have not done, when actually it is some very ugly things are going out there into the world about you, you get very irate and angry,” Depp justified to the court. As he has in the past, Depp turned his violent remarks onto Heard: “You do wonder why this person is doing this to me.”
Lost once again in the proceedings was the legal foundation of this being a defamation trial based on Heard’s late 2018 Washington Post op-ed about becoming “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though the op-end ever mentioned Depp by name, the actor has insisted that it was clearly about him and that the piece by his ex-wife and Rum Diary co-star “devastated” his already waning blockbuster career. The First Amendment issues have been buried under the dumpster fire of the couple’s time together with almost no explicit personal information in the relationship kept from public disclosure in the trial, now in its sixth week.
While still somewhat fluid, the plan by Depp’s lawyers is to wrap up their portion of the case by EOD Wednesday. The judge has set closing arguments for May 27, with the jury to go into deliberations following the Memorial Day holiday. The seven member jury has to deliver a unanimous verdict in this civil action or the whole shebang devolves into a mistrial.
Witnesses for the plaintiff’s rebuttal continue Wednesday afternoon with former TMZ staffer Morgan Tremaine, metadata expert Bryan Neumeister, and more.
UPDATE, 9:40 AM PT: Johnny Depp gave an extended denial of his ex-wife Amber Heard’s claims that he physically abused her, telling the jury in his $50 million defamation trial that her claims were “unimaginably brutal, cruel and all false.”
Depp returned to the stand on Wednesday to rebut a series of claims that Heard and her defense team presented in their case.
“No human being is perfect, certainly not, none of us,” Depp said. “But I have never in my life committed sexual battery, physical abuse.” He went on about “all these outlandish, outrageous stories of me committing these things, and living with it for six years and waiting to bring the truth out.”
“So this is not easy for any of us, I know that,” Depp said. “But no matter what happens, I did get here and I did tell the truth and I have spoken up for what I have been carrying on my back reluctantly for six years.”
Depp laced his testimony with occasionally irreverent and sometimes biting quips.
When his attorney asked him how it affected him when Heard obtained a restraining order on May 27, 2016, he said, “It changed everything.”
Heard’s attorney then raised an objection for “relevance.”
“Oh, it didn’t change everything?” Depp then said in a tone of sarcasm from the witness stand.
Judge Penney Azcarate then reminded Depp, “Sir, if you could wait for the objection, please.”
“I’m sorry. Tourette’s,” Depp responded.
Depp also tried to counter the testimony of his former business manager, Josh Mandel, who testified that the actor burned through his fortune because of his profligate spending and as he faced a substance abuse problem. Depp, though, claimed that Mandel had embezzled his earnings and was “a very bitter man who ended up with a lot of money I worked hard for over the years.” Mandel denied those claims. After Depp sued, they reached a settlement.
PREVIOUSLY 8:28 AM PT: Johnny Depp returned to the witness stand in his $50 million defamation trial against Amber Heard on Wednesday in an effort to rebut his ex-wife’s claims of domestic abuse.
At the start of Depp’s testimony, he offered a defense to Heard’s $100 million counter claim. She countersued in 2020, citing comments made by Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman that contended in comments to the Daily Mail that Heard’s allegations of abuse were fabricated.
But Depp said that he wasn’t even aware of Waldman’s comments until Heard filed her counterclaim. Depp’s team contends that Waldman was not acting on Depp’s behalf.
“It just seemed like a lot of word salad to me,” Depp said of Waldman’s comment. “I didn’t know where they came from, where they ended up.”
Depp was called back to the stand by his legal in their rebuttal. He previously testified last month.
Depp sued Heard after she wrote an op-ed published in the Washington Post in December, 2018. In the piece, Heard wrote that “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.” In 2016, Heard obtained a restraining order against Depp, claiming domestic abuse. He has denied those claims.