Johnny Depp has testified that the characterisation of his substance abuse by his ex-wife Amber Heard is “grossly embellished” and termed her allegations against him “plainly false,” on day five of the ongoing defamation trial.
The actor went on to add, “I think that it was an easy target for her to hit. Because once you have trusted somebody for a certain amount of years, and you have told them all the secrets of your life, that information then of course can be used against you.”
Depp testified on behalf of himself on Tuesday in the $50 million libel case he has filed against Heard. This trial is the latest in the ongoing legal battle between the two. Heard had filed for divorce in 2016 alleging domestic abuse at the hands of Depp.
While the couple reached a settlement, subsequently, in December 2018, Heard had written an opinion piece in The Washington Post, sharing her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor. Even though she had kept Depp’s name out of it, the latter had slapped her with the defamation suit, claiming that her article had impacted his career. Depp had been dropped from big-budget projects like Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean as well as the new Fantastic Beasts film, following Heard’s allegations.
Heard’s lawyers had argued on the first day of trial that it was Depp’s unprofessional behaviour and his refusal to quit drugs and alcohol that lost him the projects, and not Heard’s allegations. They claimed that Depp had once gone without food for days, and just lived on drugs and alcohol before blacking out, resulting in his long absence from the sets of a film that he was working on.
In response, Depp, on Tuesday, testified about his history of substance abuse, which he said had its roots in his abusive childhood. He mentioned that he had first resorted to drugs at the age of 11, in a bid to escape the trauma of his abuse by his mother, Betty Sue, who “had the ability to be as cruel as anyone can be.”
He said that when he was four or five years old, his mother had asked him to fetch her, what he called, ‘nerve pills’. “She seemed to calm down after taking them. I wanted to calm down when I was 11. I didn’t know how to, so I gulped down the pills, to escape caring and feeling, to escape the chaotic nature of what we were living through.”
Depp recalled instances of physical abuse when his mother flung an ashtray at him and when he was beaten up with a high-heeled shoe. “But the verbal and psychological abuse was worse,” Depp said, adding that his mother also bullied him, and called him “cock eye” or “one eye” because of an abnormality in his left eye.
Noting that he had done every drug known to him by the time he was 15, Depp claimed that he did not continue. And on film sets, Depp said, he maintained sobriety. “There have been no moments where I would have been considered out of control.”
On first day of the trial, Heard’s team had also accused Depp of sexual assault, stating that he had penetrated her with a liquor bottle once.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Depp said the “heinous and disturbing criminal acts” described by Heard were not based on any “species of truth.”
While he did confirm that the couple had had arguments when they were together, he said that he never reached a point where he struck Heard.
Depp’s statement so early on in the trial is unusual for a plaintiff. But the actor said, “I wanted to clear my children off this horrid thing.”
He added, “I had to stand up for my children, who were 14 and 16 (back in 2016), and were in high school. I think that it was diabolical that my children would have to go to school, and have their friends, or people in the school, approach them with the infamous People Magazine cover, with Ms Heard with a dark bruise on her face.”
He said that with his own childhood experience of abuse, he “knew exactly how to raise children.”
The actor has two children with French singer and actor Vanessa Paridis, Jack Depp and Lily-Rose Depp.
Aside from Depp, his long-time friend and sound technician Keenan Wyatt also testified on Tuesday.
Wyatt and Depp have worked together on over ten projects, including all the five Pirates of the Caribbean films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Rum Diary.
Wyatt testified that the shooting of the fifth instalment of Pirates of the Caribbean had to be stalled for weeks after Depp had severed his fingertip, and added that the actor would turn up late to the sets, owing to his disputes with Heard.
Heard’s representatives, during the cross-examination, pointed out that Wyatt’s name was mentioned in every film contract of Depp’s, which covered his transportation as well as accommodation costs while shooting for a film. They further said that Depp negotiated Wyatt’s rates, despite the latter claiming that his hourly rates were determined by the union.
Wyatt, however, maintained that he was unaware of his inclusion in Depp’s contract terms.
The trial will continue to unfold at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia over the next five weeks. Depp is set to continue with his statement, followed by the defence’s cross-examination, on Wednesday.