Johnny Depp Opens US Libel Case Against Ex-Wife Amber Heard
It’s been four years since this battle has gone legal
This Thursday, Johnny Depp’s lawyers gave a courtroom an overview of his defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard — the latest in a long-standing dispute between the two Hollywood actors.
The case draws all the way back to 2018, where Johnny Depp, 58, filed a lawsuit against Heard, 35, for $50 million in 2018. According to Depp, Heard had defamed him when she released a December 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post about being a domestic abuse survivor. The article never actually took Depp’s name, but according to the actor’s lawyer Benjamin Chew, it was ‘clear’ that Heard’ was referencing one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
Chew went on to accuse Heard of publishing the piece on the even of her Aquaman film release, in the hopes of increasing publicity. “By choosing to lie about her husband for her own personal benefit, Amber Heard forever changed Mr. Depp’s life and his reputation,” Chew said. “You will hear him tell you the dreadful impact it has had on his life.”
“Hollywood studios don’t want to deal with the public backlash from hiring someone accused of abuse — even someone with the incredible body of work and record that Mr Depp can be proud of,” Chew said.
Depp’s story has received a fair bit of attention online, with several fans leaping to the actor’s defense on social media platforms. Two of Depp’s exes – actors Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder came out in Depp’s support, claiming that the actor was ‘never abusive’.
Most of the evidence in Johnny Depp’s folder is pretty incriminating – including audio recordings where Heard confirms physically abusing him, while one of her own ex-assistants came forward claiming that her rape experience was ‘stolen’ by Heard and her laywers.
Heard’s Side of the Story
As the hearing proceeds this week, Amber Heard had recently put out an Instagram post sharing that she would be going off social media for a while.
“I’m going to go offline for the next several weeks,” she shared. “As you may know, I’ll be in Virginia, where I face my ex-husband Johnny Depp in court. Johnny is suing me for an op-ed I wrote in the Washington Post, in which I recounted my experience of violence and domestic abuse. I never named him, rather I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power.”
She further wrote, “I continue to pay the price, but hopefully, when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny. I have always maintained a love for Johnny and it brings me great pain to have to live out the details of our past life together in front of the world.”
In the courtroom, Heard’s lawyer J. Benjamin Rottenborn was a lot less gracious with Depp – kicking off his opening statement by suggesting that Depp was cooking up “crazy consipracy theories” against his client.
He went on to say that Heard was telling the truth about her “horrific” abuse experiences, but narrowed down the legal proceedings to whether or not Heard’s opinion piece was protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment – which protects freedom of speech.
“That is the question, and that is what you are being asked to decide,” Rottenborn told jurors, before accusing Depp’s team of turning the case into a “soap opera”, before Elaine Bedehoft from Heard’s team detailed a story from 2015, in which Heard was alllegedly beaten and sexually abused by Depp during a trip to Australia.
Depp shook his head in the courtroom when Bredehoft made the statement to jurors.
Given such a high profile case, both Depp and Heard submitted long lists of potential witnesses they could put on the stand. Heard’s list includes her ex-boyfriend Elon Musk, as well as James Franco — who may be asked if Heard and he had an affair during her marriage with Depp, one of the latter’s main accusations.
Back in 2016, surveillance footage showed him getting into an elevator with Heard hours after Depp allegedly gave her a black eye, meaning that Franco will likely be asked if he saw bruises on Heard. Franco’s own history is questionable as the actor has had repeated accusations of sexual misconduct tossed his way over the years.
Meanwhile, actor Paul Bettany is in Johnny Depp’s corner, both actors shared some pretty macabre, unpleasant texts in the past regarding Heard’s ‘murder’, back in 2013. It’s the second time these texts will be examined in court — which bring up burning, drowning, and posthumously sodomizing the actress — definitely one of the weakest points in Depp’s lawsuit.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard met while making 2011 film The Rum Diary and married four years later. Heard accused Depp of domestic abuse after filing for divorce in 2016.
(Featured Image Credits: AP)