After two days on the stand in a $50 million defamation case brought by Johnny Depp against his former wife, the actor concluded his narrative of their marriage by testifying Wednesday that accusations of domestic violence brought by former wife Amber Heard had destroyed his career.
“When the allegations were made,” Depp told the court, “when they were circling the globe, telling people I was a drunken, cocaine-fueled menace who beat women, suddenly in my 50s, it’s over. You’re done.
“No matter the outcome of this trial, the second those accusations were made against me, and they metastasized as fodder for the media, I lost,” he said. “I lost, and I’ll carry that for the rest of my life.”
Depp’s courtroom exploration of his marriage, which will now be turned over to Heard’s lawyers for cross-examination, had earlier reached what in movie terms might be termed a climax as jurors in Fairfax, Virginia, viewed a photograph of the actor’s partially severed finger.
Depp testified that Heard had become enraged when he had started drinking in Australia during the filming of one of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise films and had thrown a bottle of vodka at him, severing the top of his finger.
“Blood was pouring out,” he said. “I think I went into some sort of ? I don’t know what a nervous breakdown feels like, but that’s probably the closest that I’ve ever been. Nothing made sense.”
Depp said he had hidden in a bathroom, and was later taken to a hospital where he told doctors the digit had been caught in large accordion doors.
“I lied because … I didn’t want to disclose that it had been Ms Heard that had thrown a vodka bottle at me and took my finger off,” he told the court in his lawsuit against his former wife. “I didn’t want to get her in trouble.”
Heard listens as Depp testifies and a picture of an injury to his face is seen on a screen in court.
During Depp’s second day of testimony, jurors also heard of events that marked the the end of their relationship, soon after Depp’s mother died in hospital.
“I decided to call Amber and tell her that my mom had died that day. I said, ‘Look, I’ve made a decision and I think it’s the best thing. I’m going to file for divorce.’”
He said that he told Heard he would not cite irreconcilable differences or any abuse in the relationship and went to their penthouses to collect some of his things while Heard was at Coachella.
But Depp’s security guard told him it wasn’t a good time and showed the actor a photo on his phone of human waste on his side of the bed that was human fecal matter. “It was so outside, it was so bizarre and so grotesque that I could only laugh,” Depp said.
Asked whether it was possible that it belonged to the couple’s teacup Yorkies, the actor said no.
“I lived with those dogs for many years,” he said. “It was clear. That did not come from a dog. It just didn’t.”
Heard later explained that it was the dogs’ “fecal delivery”. Depp said he could not accept that. Later, he said, Heard was on the phone with the artist iO Tillet Wright saying “the wonderful point of just how funny it was” that Depp thought the delivery was hers.
Depp earlier recalled how Heard subjected him to an “endless parade of insults”, how he had “wanted to try to make it work, to help her. The Amber Heard I knew was not this opponent. She wasn’t my girl, she’d become my opponent.”
Frequently the focus of their conflict, he said, was his drinking. “She’d been pretty brutish about telling me I needed to stop drinking,” Depp said, telling the actor he was “weak, a complete mess, an alcoholic ruining everything”.
Depp said the exchanges frequently escalated into full-scale arguments. “Her need for conflict and violence erupts out of nowhere,” he said. “I learned to deal with it exactly as I did as a child, which was retreat.”
The court in Fairfax, Virginia, has yet to hear Heard’s version of events but over a day and a half of Depp’s testimony so far, jurors have been given a tour of an unstable celebrity marriage coloured by addiction.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million, accusing her of defamation after she alleged violent domestic abuse.
At issue throughout much of their marriage, Depp said, was Heard’s anger at his inability to stop using substances. At one point, he convinced Heard to stay at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills hotel while he attempted to come off a brand of potent prescription opioid painkillers, under the care of his doctor.
“You won’t have to sit around ‘Mr Shakey’,” he told the jury he had said to his wife. He continued in his second day of testimony: “She wasn’t happy with it but she did eventually leave. So for a few days I sat around in a metal chair with one song on a loop so I could focus on the lyrics and the power of the song to help me get through it.”
On another, after returning from Boston where he had been filming the movie Black Massin in May 2014, Depp said he paid for Heard and her friends to stay at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles, while he again attempted to kick his habit.
He had not been drinking to excess on the plane, where Heard alleges that an assault took place, but had taken two painkillers and locked himself in the bathroom to avoid her badgering, he said.
Depp testified that he had suggested Heard also stop drinking and taking drugs, which Depp has itemized as wine, ecstasy, mushrooms and “a high-velocity speed”.
Through this extended life story, Depp has weaved in aspects of his history with other women. Heard has said that the first time she was assaulted was when Depp slapped her in 2013 after she mocked a tattoo that had once said “Winona Forever” – a reference to the actor and former girlfriend Winona Ryder – but had since been changed to “Wino Forever”.
“It didn’t happen,” he said of the alleged assault. “Why would I take such great offense to someone making fun of a tattoo on my body? That allegation never made any sense to me.” Heard, he suggested was jealous that Depp had not had himself inscribed with her name.
Despite the difficulties in their brief marriage, Depp maintains that he never assaulted Heard, the allegation that goes to the heart of the defamation he claims she made in a 2018 Washington Post column.
On Wednesday, he repeated that denial saying that his disputes with Heard would never cause him to hit her. “Violence isn’t necessary,” Depp said. “Why would you hit someone to make them agree with you?”
The trial continues. – Guardian News and Media 2022