Four years after Amber Heard and Johnny Depp filed for divorce (and five years after their wedding), The Rum Diary co-stars are embroiled in a libel suit (filed by Depp) against a British tabloid, The Sun. Central to the case is an April 2018 article that labeled Depp as a “wife-beater.” For his part, Depp has strenuously denied that he ever abused Amber Heard during their relationship, although allegations to that effect were made by Heard (who submitted photos to secure a 2016 restraining order) and backed up by Depp’s former managers. No criminal charges were ever filed, and the pair settled their divorce in 2016.
Fast forward to the present (in the heat of a pandemic), and both Depp and Heard are appearing in a U.K. court for a scheduled three weeks of proceedings. The forum’s not too surprising. The libel laws are a lot stricter across the pond than in the U.S., so plaintiffs are more likely to prevail there, rather than here, since the burden of proof rests upon the defendant, which puts publications at a disadvantage. A plaintiff has a pretty good case at prevailing if “serious harm” will come from a defamatory statement. In Depp’s case, his attorneys state that he’s not in this lawsuit for the money but, instead, seeks “to clear his reputation” from potentially irreparable harm and desires “vindication.”
English law holds that libel suit defendants — in this case, The Sun‘s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and executive editor Dan Wootton — are working against the presumption that the allegation in question (that Depp guilty of domestic abuse) is false. Therefore, the defendants must prove that the allegation is true in order to prevail (which is a reversal of the U.S. standard).
Of course, coverage of the trial has reflected quite a circus. No matter how it shakes out, here are the most outlandish things (presented as evidence, although some of it doesn’t revolve around abuse) that have been revealed so far:
– The Missing Half-Billion (At Least) Dollars: This part of the story actually doesn’t source from the trial, but it’s worth mentioning here for the circus-related (not abuse-related) aspect. In a recent, bizarre Rolling Stone profile, Depp admitted to making $650 million from movies and still somehow being in debt. He’s blaming his ex-managers, although tax-payment issues and exorbitant expenditures from Depp (no doubt) contributed to the issue. He seemed proud of his spending and made the following boasts: (1) “It’s insulting to say that I spent $30,000 [per month] on wine. Because it was far more”; (2) “By the way, it was not $3 million to shoot Hunter [S. Thompson] into the f*cking sky [at his funeral]. It was $5 million.”
Whether or not Depp was serious with the above claims, who really knows? During the trial, he’s also repeatedly acknowledged his substance abuse (drug and alcohol issues) while, again, denying spousal abuse. Now, onto those other revelations.
– Those “Porky Pies”: Alas, Depp was not talking about delicious cuisine here. Instead, he was responding to medical notes from Amber Heard’s doctor, who wrote (after diagnosing her with anxiety) that Depp felt threatened by romantic acting scenes she did with James Franco and also “romanticises the entire drug culture and has no accountability for his behaviour.” In response to the court, Depp accused his ex-wife of lies: “I think she was telling porky pies with her psychiatrist.”
– The Poo In the Bed: Depp told the court that he had decided to end his marriage with Heard after much animosity but because of one overriding occurrence — finding poop in their marital bed. He alleges that Amber did the deed (she denies this claim), rather than one of her two terriers (Pistol and Boo), and a housekeeper submitted photos to the court in support of Depp’s claim. She further alleged that there was “a large pile of feces” in the bed. The housekeeper stated, “It was clear to me that this was human feces … could not have come from either of Mr. Depp’s or Ms. Heard’s two small dogs.” There are photos of the “pile” at Page Six, if you are so inclined to see for yourself.
– Alleged Animal Abuse “Jokes”: The court heard that Depp “joked” that he would put one of Heard’s dogs in the microwave. According to a former assistant for the couple and Heard’s sister, Depp also laughingly dangled one of the dogs out a moving vehicle’s window while making “howling noises.” As a lawyer for The Sun asserted, “You were smoking and you opened the window and you were angry and you were aggressive, rather like you were in that clip we saw yesterday — the monster side of your character. And you took hold of Pistol and you held her out of the window.” Depp denies that the car-dangling incident occurred.
– The Ice Cream Debacle: A photo, which was taken by Heard and submitted as evidence and can be seen here, doesn’t look fantastic. The 2014 image shows Depp sleeping (while sitting up) with his mouth hanging wide open and a container of spilled ice cream dripping all over his leg. In regards to the photo, Depp claimed that he was suffering from exhaustion (from work and while weaning off prescription medication), and he stated that Amber had allegedly goaded him over the photo: “Look at what you’ve become … look at you, it’s pathetic.”
– The “Haymaker”: Depp alleges that Heard was, in fact, the instigator and abuser in their marriage. While making the claim, he told the court that Heard had grown greatly upset about him “ruining” one of her birthday dinners. She allegedly punched him, and as Depp explained to the judge, “A haymaker is a type of a wild swing, a roundhouse punch … effective if it reaches the target.” The judge replied, “I have come across it.”
– The Honeymoon Incident: One of Heard’s diary entries (sourcing from their 2015 honeymoon) surfaced in court. While on a train in Southeast Asia, Heard alleges, the two had a “terrible” fight, in which Johnny “at one point found himself with his shirt wrapped around my neck.” Heard wrote that she woke up with a bump on her head, but that the two “fell asleep with one another smashed together in desperate, childlike anger, fear and love.” Depp’s security guard told the court that he didn’t witness the alleged fight (though he wasn’t in the cabin overnight with the pair), and that he “wouldn’t tolerate any man striking a woman.”
– Other Depp-Employee Weigh-Ins: One of Depp’s estate managers testified that Heard “was the aggressor in the relationship” and shouted at him during a violent clash that he was “washed up” and “fat.” Depp and Heard’s former hairstylist testified that Heard had falsely claimed to have appeared on James Corden’s The Late Late Show while sporting “two black eyes” in 2015. The hairstylist insisted that Heard “had been visibly uninjured throughout the day and at that moment.’”
– Depp’s Bloodied, Mangled Finger: It’s not up for debate that, in 2015, Depp visited a hospital after the tip of his finger was sliced off. At the time, Depp reportedly blamed himself for the injury, but his bodyguard told the court that Depp had told him, “She’s just cut my finger off,” and that he’d publicly backed up Depp’s initial assertion that the injury was a self-inflicted one. However, Depp now maintains that Heard had caused the injury while throwing a vodka bottle at her then-husband. In court, Depp admitted scrawling on a mirror with his bloodied finger. He apparently wrote, “I love you,” while Heard alleged that the incident occurred within a “three-day ordeal of physical assault” by her then-husband, who she claims was mixing ecstasy pills and alcohol while accusing her of sleeping with co-star Billy Bob Thornton.
This trial — which will continue for at least one more week — isn’t the first time that evidence of alleged abuse (from either side of the marriage) or photos of an apparently inebriated Depp (or a drunken Depp presenting an award) have surfaced. However, Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder have both provided witness statements to the court to back up Depp and state that they never witnessed abusive behavior from him during their relationships with the Pirates of the Caribbean star.
It’s also worth revisiting the below incident that surfaced years ago, both for the footage and for Depp’s response:
– The 2016 Footage: In a video posted at TMZ, Depp appears go berzerk in his kitchen, as recorded by Heard. The footage shows Depp kicking various objects and slamming cabinets before smashing a glass and emptying a wine bottle. At one point, he also says, “You want to see crazy, I’ll show you something crazy.” Then he notices the camera, a scuffle of sorts ensues, and the footage ended. At the time, Depp’s representatives claimed that the footage was “heavily edited” and “a complete setup.”