Actor Johnny Depp testified on Tuesday that he never hit his ex-wife Amber Heard and is contesting her charges in a US$50 million defamation case in part to protect his children from misinformation about his behavior .
Speaking softly and slowly, Depp said in a Virginia courtroom it was a “complete shock” about six years ago when Heard “made some pretty heinous and disturbing allegations” that he had become violent in the course of their relationship.
“I myself never got to the point of hitting Ms. Heard in any way, and I’ve never hit any woman in my life,” said Depp, who wore a dark suit with his hair up. ponytail.
“I felt it was my responsibility to not only defend myself in this case, but to defend my children,” Depp said. His two children from a previous relationship were in high school at the time, he said.
“It’s very strange when one day you’re Cinderella so to speak, then in 0.6 seconds you’re Quasimodo,” Depp added.
Article never mentioned Depp by name
Depp, 58, alleges Heard, 35, defamed him when she wrote a December 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post of being a survivor of domestic violence. He filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard in 2018.
The article never mentioned Depp by name, but Depp’s attorney, Benjamin Chew, told jurors a week ago it was clear Heard was referring to the leading man in Hollywood.
Heard’s attorneys argued that she spoke the truth and that her opinion was protected as free speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
A state court judge in Fairfax County, Va., is overseeing the trial, which is in its second week and is expected to last six weeks.
Among the witnesses called by Depp’s lawyers are friends of the Pirates of the Caribbean star and a doctor and nurse who said they treated him for drug addiction. Witnesses said they were aware of the arguments between the couple but did not witness any physical abuse by Depp towards Heard.
“Their arguments were an emotional trigger for him,” Debbie Lloyd, who worked as a nurse for Depp when he was engaged to Heard, said in a deposition recorded March 8 and released to the jury on Monday. “They would upset him, add stress.”
When asked by a lawyer for Depp if she knew that one of Depp’s arguments with Heard got physical, Lloyd replied, “No.”
In the wake of the British trial
Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against The Sun, a British tabloid that called him a “wife beater”. A High Court judge in London ruled that he repeatedly assaulted Heard and made him fear for his life.
In the US case, both Depp and Heard submitted long lists of potential witnesses they could put on the stand.
Heard’s list includes her ex-boyfriend and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whom she texted about Depp. Actor James Franco is also on the list of potential witnesses.
The Washington Post is not accused in this case. Depp’s attorneys said they filed the case in Fairfax County, outside the District of Columbia, because the newspaper is printed at a facility there.
The United States is a difficult forum for libel plaintiffs, especially public figures like Depp, who must prove with clear and convincing evidence that Heard knowingly made false statements.
Heard seeks $100 million in damages from Depp
Depp and Heard met while filming a 2011 movie The rum journal and married four years later. Heard accused Depp of domestic abuse after filing for divorce in 2016.
Heard, known for his roles in Aquaman and Justice Leaguefiled his own libel suit against Depp, claiming he defamed her by calling her a liar.
Heard’s counterclaim will be decided at trial. Heard is seeking $100 million in damages from Depp, according to court documents.
Following the November 2020 ruling in the London libel trial, Depp was replaced by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen in the third film of the fantastic beasts franchise, a spin-off of the Harry Potter books and movies.