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When Amber Heard took the witness stand in Johnny Depp’s defamation case against her on May 4, she was quick to describe the emotional toll of the proceedings and the power differential in their relationship. “I can’t find the words to describe how painful it is,” Heard said when asked how she felt about the trial, adding shortly afterwards, “It’s the most painful and difficult thing I’ve ever been through, for sure.” Heard testified that she met Depp after auditioning for The rum journal. Heard met Depp at his office; they discussed obscure literature and blues music for several hours. Depp sent her home with several books, Heard said. Heard wore a deep navy three-piece suit with a blue and white striped shirt to court while describing their relationship, and she spoke in a neutral tone. She looked around the courtroom while answering her lawyer’s questions, while Depp’s gaze remained fixed on the table.
“We spent the whole time talking about things that are close to our hearts; I was so surprised. I knew who he was. I was not a fan of his work,” she said of their meeting. “It was weird because he’s twice my age and he’s a world famous actor…” Heard said. “I walked away from there feeling like, wow.” Heard got the part. Depp seemed to like Heard early on. “We didn’t really have much interaction on set until we did a scene involving kissing,” Heard recalled, matching Depp’s testimony. “We had a kissing scene, and it didn’t feel normal, it didn’t feel like a normal scene anymore. It was more real. There’s certain things you do in a job to be professional, like when you’re doing this kind of scene, you don’t use your tongue if you can avoid it,” Heard said, but “he caught me face and pulled me into him and really kissed me, but we were shooting a scene. “Did he use his tongue? Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, asked. “Yes,” Heard replied.
Bredehoft’s series of questions and Heard’s answers seemed to want to establish that Depp had the upper hand in their relationship – and that he started pushing the boundaries early on. Once on the rum diary together, Depp “raised his foot in the air and basically kind of lifted the back of my bathrobe,” Heard said, explaining that she wore vintage-style underwear for a scene in the film. 1950s. In Depp’s trailer, he “kind of pushed me down on this bed/sofa style piece of furniture” and raised his eyebrows. Heard “playfully” pushed back against these alleged encounters.
Heard and Depp started dating after the 2012 press tour for the rum diary. Depp showered her with affection and gifts, even when she pushed back. “All of a sudden I had a foal,” Heard recalled of Depp gifting him a horse, despite his repeated protests. “I could hardly see straight. I was head over heels in love, and he felt that way about me – he felt like he was in love too. Soon after their relationship began, Depp went through periods of disappearing; on his return, he would be “different”. Depp would return Heard’s words and “accuse me of saying something else,” she said. “He made comments about prostituting me,” Heard said, saying Depp’s criticism was about her clothes and the roles she auditioned for.
She claimed that Depp’s anger had become more explosive. Depp would throw something or tear down an apartment. He was throwing glasses at her, Heard said. Heard recalls the first time Depp allegedly punched her: “It changed my life.”
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think he was using cocaine. As if there was a pot, a pot of cocaine on the table. I realize that sounds weird, but it’s like a real vintage pot,” Heard continued. She asked Depp about Winona Ryder’s tattoo on his arm, a story Depp told his version of in his testimony. “I just laughed because I thought he was joking,” she said while reading “Wino Forever,” “and he slapped me in the face.”
“Then he slapped me again. It was clear: it was no longer a joke.
Heard described several instances of Depp’s alleged drug use and erratic behavior. Once, while Depp was taking cocaine, he accused Heard of having an affair. Depp had stayed up all night and his business contacts were calling him in the morning because he had to be at a shoot. Eventually, Heard and several others convinced him to leave the house. They grabbed the dogs, a Depp and a Heard, and got into the car. The windows were rolled down because Depp was constantly smoking, she said. Depp started “screaming”.
“He grabs this Yorkie teacup and holds Boo out the moving car window,” Heard said. “And he’s howling and, like, holding the dog out the window.” No one in the car did anything. Heard was able to gently bring Depp’s arms back into the vehicle.
Heard also described Depp allegedly raging on a couple’s getaway, penetrating her with his fingers to search for drugs. Heard described this alleged encounter as a “cavity dig”. Heard, who began crying several hours after her testimony, said that throughout their relationship she had to understand what Depp had ingested to know how to react.
“Johnny on speed is very different from Johnny on opiates. And Johnny on opiates – very different from Johnny on Adderall. And cocaine Johnny, which is very different from quaaludes Johnny,” Heard testified.
Heard’s testimony contrasts sharply with that of Depp and his witnesses. Depp presented himself as a victim on the stand while detailing a turbulent relationship, saying he suffered childhood abuse as well as domestic violence – and the ruinous fallout of Heard’s 2018 Washington To post editorial. Testimony from Depp’s side also painted Heard as an unstable woman and an unreliable narrator who wanted to boost her public profile. Depp’s efforts to cast Heard in a negative light are an integral part of his trial strategy. To claim that Heard’s op-ed defamed him, he must prove that his allegations of abuse are false. Depp must therefore show that his claims are not reliable. He is suing for $50 million in Fairfax County Court, Virginia; she filed a counterclaim for $100 million.
Before Heard testified, his team called forensic psychologist Dawn Hughes to the stand. Hughes, who served as an expert witness in the NXIVM sex cult trial, assessed Heard for hours of examination. Hughes, an expert in treating victims of domestic abuse, said Heard suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder but showed no signs of personality disorders – as Depp’s expert argued. Hughes said Heard suffered interpersonal abuse, including sexual violence. Hughes also testified that Depp’s physical abuse came amid jealousy over Heard’s connections to other men, including James Franco. (Heard and Franco starred in two films together, Pineapple Express after that, The Adderall Diaries.) Hughes’ testimony also served to establish why Heard might have stayed with Depp despite the alleged abuse. She explained that people who experience domestic abuse stay because of a “traumatic bond” and emotional dependency. “It makes it very difficult for the abuse victim to get out of that relationship,” Hughes explained. Bringing this testimony from Hughes, Heard’s team explained how staying in a relationship doesn’t undo abuse. Heard will have to convince jurors that Depp abused her to show that her op-ed wasn’t fake, which is at the heart of Depp’s libel suit. Heard’s op-ed didn’t mention Depp by name, but he says that clearly implied he was her attacker.
This post has been updated.