Drugs, human feces and a severed fingertip were all on the docket in the second day of Johnny Depp‘s testimony in his defamation trial against Amber Heard. Speaking slowly and emphatically, the actor depicted a toxic relationship with his ex-wife, who exhibited “a need for conflict” and “a need for violence.”
“It could begin with a slap. It could begin with a shove. It could begin with, you know, throwing a TV remote at my head. It could be throwing a glass of wine in my face. But all in all, it was just constant,” he said.
As was the case on Tuesday, Depp offered a rebuke of his ex-wife’s claims that she was a victim of domestic violence during their brief marriage, which began in 2015 and was over a year later. The Pirates of the Caribbean actor — dressed in a grey suit, his hair in a ponytail — described a controlling and mercurial Heard who weaponized knowledge of his experience as an abused child and attacked him with “a parade of insults.”
“I was sort of not allowed to be right, not allowed to have a voice,” he said. “So at a certain point, when that enters your mind is [when] you start to slowly realize that you are in a relationship with your mother in a sense, and I know that that sounds perverse and obtuse. But the fact is some people search for weaknesses and sensitivities. And when you’ve told that person your life and what you’ve lived through, what you’ve been through, as happens in relationships, the more that became ammunition from [Heard] … to either verbally decimate me or to send me into a kind of tailspin of confusion and depression.”
Even more shocking, he detailed multiple instance of being physically assaulted by Heard. Lawyers for Depp presented grisly photographs and disturbing audio exhibits in an effort to shine a light on injuries the actor sustained during Heard’s fits of “rage.” Among the pictures shown to the jury was one of Depp’s face after being scratched by Heard as well as one of his severed fingertip. Both stemmed from 2015 incidents.
Heard, who sat mostly motionless during Depp’s testimony on Tuesday, was more animated in court on Wednesday, taking notes on a legal pad and smirking as her ex portrayed her as someone who undermined his own quest for sobriety and who imbibed drugs like ecstasy and speed and drank heavily. “‘How about you get sobriety and share this sobriety with me to support me and help me through this?’” he says he asked her, but she declined. At times, she appeared to be on the verge of tears as Depp described Heard’s violent confrontations.
Depp, too, was demonstrative while on the stand, standing up at times and reenacting how he put Heard in a bear hug “to try and stop her from hitting me anymore” after she allegedly struck him from behind during one outburst. In one of the most bizarre anecdotes, the actor described a photo that Heard sent him with what appeared to be human feces on his side of the bed. She later claimed it came from their two teacup Yorkies. When asked by his attorney if the latter explanation was possible, Depp scoffed. “[The dogs] weigh about four pounds each,” he said. “That did not come from a dog.”
Following his mother’s death in May 2016, Depp said he decided to end the marriage and went to one of their Los Angeles properties to discuss his decision. He said Heard used the opportunity to feign abuse while on a call with a friend. “I’m 20 feet away, [but] she’s still gonna lie on the phone. ‘Stop hitting me Johnny!’ She’s screaming in her best freaked-out, upset voice,” he said. “And [Depp’s bodyguard] Sean [Bett] entered the room. She was quite surprised to see [Bett and another bodyguard]. She said, ‘That’s the last time you’ll ever hit me, the last time you’ll ever do that.’” That night has proved to be pivotal in Heard’s version of events. Days later, the actress released photos showing herself with a significant bruise on her face that were allegedly sustained that night. One of those photos wound up on the cover of People magazine.
During the testimony, Depp recounted the pair’s drug-fueled wedding celebration where many of the guests took ecstasy. Depp claimed, however, that he only smoked marijuana on their wedding day, and that he didn’t remember even drinking during the occasion. “My drug of choice was and is marijuana,” Depp admitted.
The actor said that at the time of their wedding, he and Heard did not have a prenuptial agreement, and broaching the topic of having one was a “springboard into unpleasantness and arguments.” When the idea of a “post-nup” agreement was broached, “That was the beginning of the Australian fight,” Depp said, as the actor was working on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in that country at the time. That fight occurred after Depp’s lawyers allegedly had a contentious meeting with Heard, who then flew to Australia to confront Depp.
“By the time she arrives in Australia, that had sunk very deep into her psyche, so much so that what really surprised me is that she kept saying ‘I’m not even in your will.’ I thought that was an odd thing to say,” Depp said. “Those things, it felt wrong, and she could not let go of the fact that I was ‘in’ on this post-nup agreement.”
The situation escalated from there: “She was irate and she was possessed, and as I tried to remove myself from situation — she’s hammering me with brutal words; pardon my language but I remember it wasn’t nice being called an ass-kisser to lawyers — I tried to remove myself from the situation but to no avail,” Depp said, adding that the actor at one point locked himself in a bathroom, but Heard allegedly kept “banging on the door and screaming obscenities and wanting to have a physical altercation.”
Depp — who at this point had been sober for months, he claimed on the stand — left the bathroom and went to a bar that was on the property. He then opened a vodka bottle and began taking shots; “First taste of alcohol I’d had in a long time,” he said.
Heard then entered the bar area, admonished Depp for drinking, and “hurled” a vodka bottle at him, narrowly missing him, he claimed. Depp then grabbed another vodka bottle from the bar, opened it and started drinking; Heard also took that bottle and threw it at him, he alleged.
“It made contact and shattered everywhere, and I honestly didn’t feel the pain at first at all,” Depp said on the stand. “I felt heat, and I felt as if something was dripping down my hand, and then I looked down and realized that the tip of my finger had been severed and I was looking directly at my bone sticking out.”
Depp continued, “Blood was just pouring out, and at that point, I think I went into some sort of — I don’t know what a nervous breakdown feels like — but that’s the closest I’ve ever been.” Amid this nervous breakdown, Depp began writing — in blood — moments from their past including “lies [Heard] had told me and lies I caught her in.”
Depp’s lawyers presented pictures of the severed fingertip.
“A couple of weeks” after the Australia incident, Depp and Heard returned to the U.S., where what has been called “the staircase incident” occurred. On the stand, Depp testified that he received a “roundhouse punch” from Heard, giving him a bruise on the side of his face; a photo of that injury was shown during the trial. Depp’s lawyers also played portions of audio conversations between the actors in which Heard admitted she was physical toward Depp.
Depp’s self-described position as a victim who “would often hide in the bathroom to get away from Ms. Heard during arguments” and endured her “high school bullying tactics” followed a day in which his legal team laid the groundwork for humanizing the A-list actor whose career took a nosedive in the wake of allegations that he physically abused Heard.
The movie star filed a $50 million defamation suit against Heard in 2019 over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed she wrote in which the Aquaman actress detailed her plight as an abuse survivor who “felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.” With the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia serving as a backdrop in the battle of the Hollywood stars, Depp reiterated his testimony from Tuesday that he “never struck Ms. Heard. I‘ve never struck a woman in my life.”
The televised trial, which also will feature Heard on the stand, is expected to last six weeks. Heard’s attorneys began cross-examining Depp on Wednesday and will continue to do so on Thursday.
Depp’s testimony this week marks the first time he has discussed at length the domestic violence accusations that Heard leveled against him as well as the career repercussions he experienced in the wake of their nasty 2016 split, which featured a temporary restraining order, grisly photos of Heard’s seemingly bruised face, and a flood of embarrassing details on Depp’s drug use.
Depp’s team is hoping to convince the seven-member jury that his reputation was irreparably harmed by the op-ed, which he counters is based on “lies” and is “diabolical.” Although Depp wasn’t specifically named in the piece, it was widely assumed at the time that she was speaking directly about her ex-husband.
Heard, who countersued Depp for $100 million in 2020, is expected to take the stand later in the trial in an effort to undermine Depp’s efforts to paint her as the violent perpetrator and he the passive victim of her wrath. In their opening arguments, Heard’s team offered a preview of what is to come during her testimony, including new allegations of sexual assault. On Wednesday, Depp’s lawyers asked the actor if he had ever sexually assaulted his former wife. “Never. Certainly no.” The high-stakes case, which has received gavel-to-gavel coverage in the United States and abroad, where the actor enjoys a rabid fanbase, will come down to who the jury believes is more credible.
Depp’s testimony followed several witnesses, including Bett and longtime sound engineer Keenan Wyatt, who both said on the stand that Depp never abused Heard or any other woman, a position reiterated by the actor in his three hours on the stand on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.