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Timeline: Everything You Need to Know Before the Verdict in Amber Heard-Johnny Depp Defamation Trial

The six-week-long defamation trial between ex-spouses Amber Heard and Johnny Depp is scheduled to come to an end on Friday. Ahead of the verdict in the defamation case, Silverscreen India brings you a timeline of all the important events in the long-drawn-out legal battle between the duo, and the claims made by both parties.


While the ongoing trial is over Depp’s $50 million defamation suit against Heard for her 2018 op-ed piece that the former alleges impacted his prospects in Hollywood, the duo has been involved in multiple legal battles since Heard filed for divorce in 2016 alleging domestic abuse, setting the turf for one of the most high-profile cases fought in the public eye.

2013 – First instance of abuse, according to Amber Heard

Depp and Heard first met on the sets of The Rum Diary. They started dating in 2012, while on the press tour for the film, and got married in 2015.

According to Heard’s testimony during the ongoing trial, the first year of their relationship was fine and “like a dream,” and the episodes of abuse began in 2013.

“I will never forget it. It changed my life,” Heard said as she recounted the incident.

Heard said that they were having a conversation at Depp’s place, when she asked him about a tattoo on his arm, that read ‘Wino’ and laughed over it. “I just laughed because I thought he was joking. And he slapped me across the face,” she said. “And I laughed. I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do. I thought this must be a joke. I didn’t know what was going on. I just stared at him.”

“I, as a woman, had never been hit like that,” she said.

Heard also mentioned that Depp had been drinking and she believed that he was also high on cocaine at the time of the incident.

Although Heard left Depp after this, the two reconciled shortly thereafter. “I believed there was a line he’d never cross again and that was it,” she said.

2014 – Boston airplane ride incident

Just a year ahead of their wedding, Heard said, Depp was jealous of actor James Franco and disapproved of the two working together on a film. Time and again, Depp would accuse Heard of having a “secret thing” with Franco.

The accusations allegedly snowballed into physical abuse when Depp kicked Heard in the back on an airplane, after enquiring about any intimate scenes that she had with Franco.

During the same incident, Depp reeked of alcohol and weed when he approached her, said Heard. Shortly after, Depp allegedly started to howl and passed out in the bathroom.

Depp’s account of the same incident differed in that, he claimed that Heard “was looking to pick a fight with him.” He added that Heard verbally heckled, hassled, poked, and prodded him, because of which he went back into the bathroom where, he said, he fell asleep.

2015 – Marriage and the incident that cost Johnny Depp his fingertip

The most severe incident of the alleged abuse occurred a few months after the couple got married in February 2015.

Heard visited Depp in Australia, where he was shooting for a film. She alleged that over the course of three days, Depp assaulted her whilst high on ecstasy and alcohol. It was during this time that Depp injured the tip of his middle finger.

Depp testified that he and Heard were engaged in a verbal altercation, and that he was hiding from her in different rooms as well as bathrooms, since Heard kept approaching him. He added that he went to the bar and sat there, when Heard hurled a big vodka bottle at him, thereby severing his fingertip.

Heard, on the other hand, said that Depp injured himself after he smashed a wall-mounted phone with his hands. She alleged that Depp held her down on a counter-top and sexually assaulted her, shortly after, by penetrating her with a vodka bottle. She went on to claim that Depp used his bleeding finger to write demeaning words about her on the wall – photos of which were displayed during the trial.

2016 – Divorce and restraining order

Heard filed for divorce in 2016 alleging that she was subjected to domestic abuse and violence at the hands of Depp. She also obtained a restraining order against Depp. Just before she filed for divorce, Heard said that Depp threw his phone at her, and it hit her face and left a bruise.

Depp had turned Heard’s place upside-down and left, she alleged. Even though Heard called the police, she did not submit a statement since she wanted to avoid international media attention, Heard claimed. A few days later, Heard turned up at the courthouse with a bruised face and filed for a restraining order against Depp. The event garnered heavy media attention and branded Depp as an abuser.

Depp has denied all allegations and maintained that Heard’s step was a move to accelerate her career.

In August 2016, the duo reached a $7 million divorce settlement outside court and released a joint statement that said, “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”


Heard pledged the settlement money to two charity organisations: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Children’s Hospital, LA.

The divorce was finalised in 2017 and the couple parted ways.

2018 – The Sun calls Johnny Depp ‘Wife-Beater’; Amber Heard writes her opinion piece

In April 2018, UK tabloid The Sun published an article which called Depp a ‘wife-beater’. The actor sued the newspaper for libel in June 2018 and the case went to court in 2020.

However, that lawsuit was rejected by the British High Court. In its ruling, the court also observed that 12 of the 14 alleged domestic violence incidents had occurred.

In December 2018, Heard wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post and shared her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor. Three statements from the op-ed piece, in addition to the headline of its digital copy, earned Depp’s wrath even though Heard had not explicitly named him.

Depp claimed that the op-ed cost him big Hollywood projects, including the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Heard, on the other hand, testified that her op-ed referred to her experiences in the aftermath of filing the restraining order, and was largely directed towards a system and not just Depp.

2019 – Johnny Depp files defamation suit against Amber Heard

Depp slapped Heard with a defamation suit for $50 million in early 2019, claiming that her article had impacted his career and cost him a few big projects.

“The op-ed depended on the central premise that Ms Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mr Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her,” the suit read. It added that the piece was Heard’s attempt to generate “an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity.”

In response to it, Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim against Depp.

2020 – Johnny Depp removed from Fantastic Beasts franchise

Both Depp and Heard have claimed that the biggest ramification of their prolonged legal battle was that it cost them films, brand endorsements, and their careers, as a whole.

In November 2020, Depp released a statement on Instagram announcing his exit from the Fantastic Beasts franchise. “I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros from my role Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request,” he wrote.

Actor Mads Mikkelsen was recast for the role of Grindelwald in the third film, The Secrets of Dumbledore.

2022 – The trial in the defamation suit begins

The trial in Depp’s defamation suit began on April 11 and has been conducted over a period of six weeks with a break from May 6 to May 16.

Both Depp and Heard testified, with Depp testifying first on April 19.

Amber Heard’s counterclaim:

It is to be noted that Heard’s counterclaim is primarily based on statements made by Adam Waldman, Depp’s former attorney, which came after Heard called the police alleging that Depp had attacked her and damaged her property.

Waldman’s statement on Heard was part of a 12-page article in a publication that read, “The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face or property.”

He added, “So, Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight under the direction of a lawyer and publicist, and then, placed a second call to 911.”

Johnny Depp’s text message exchanges with Paul Bettany:

According to Heard, things got worse when Depp went back to drinking and accused her of having affairs with her friends and acquaintances. She also said Depp passed comments on her dressing and called her vile names.


Texts between Depp and actor Paul Bettany surfaced during the trial that supported this claim. “Let’s burn Amber,” Depp wrote in one of the text messages, and added, “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!!”

“I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards, to make sure she’s dead,” Depp further wrote.

Heard’s lawyer J Benjamin Rottenborn also disclosed that Depp had referred to his ex-wife as an “idiot cow,” “ugly cunt,” and “worthless hooker,” in separate text messages to unnamed individuals.

Johnny Depp’s ousting from Pirates of the Caribbean:

Depp was dropped from big-budget projects like Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean as well as the new Fantastic Beasts film, in wake of Heard’s allegations, and in the current defamation suit, Depp claims her op-ed piece resulted in his ousting from these movies.

Heard’s lawyers, however, contend 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.

“Disney wasn’t going to cast him (Depp) in Pirates of the Caribbean 6. Months before the op-ed, Disney was considering dropping him. Disney had a dossier on him that had articles from the press and other information about Depp. And they didn’t have this article (Heard’s op-ed) in their files. It didn’t register with them just as it didn’t register with the public,” Heard’s representative said.

Heard’s attorney further cited an October 2018 report from the Daily Mail, predating the op-ed piece, according to which Depp was “out as Jack Sparrow.”

In response to this, Depp said, “I wasn’t aware of that, but it doesn’t surprise me. Two years had gone by of constant worldwide talk about me being this wife beater. So, I’m sure that Disney was trying to cut ties to be safe.”

Conflicting accounts on Johnny Depp’s fingertip injury:

Depp claimed that Heard had hurled a vodka bottle at him, while Heard testified that Depp had smashed a wall-mounted phone with his hand, which had led to the injury. Both parties presented witnesses, friends and medical, who testified to their version of the events.

Heard’s sister, Whitney, and friend, Rocky Pennington, testified to seeing bruises and cuts on her after the incident allegedly occurred.

Medical experts such as Dr Richard Moore testified that Depp’s injury could not have been caused by a vodka bottle simply because his hand was placed palm-down on the table. He noted that considering the position of the finger, the fingernail bed should also have been injured, which wasn’t the case.

In addition to his reviews of records, Dr Moore testified that he came across a text exchange between Depp and the doctor who treated him for substance abuse, Dr David Kipper, which suggested that the actor had cut off his finger himself.

Meanwhile, in an audio-recording shared during the trial, Heard is heard telling Depp that no one would believe a man who would call himself a victim of domestic abuse.

Apart from extensively discussing the incident wherein he severed his fingertip, Depp also alleged that Heard or one of her friends defecated on their bed after he broke up with her. Heard claimed that it was the work of her two dogs, an explanation that Depp found ridiculous. “She brought up the fecal matter on the bed. She tried to blame it on the dogs,” Depp said. “They’re teacup Yorkies. They weigh about four pounds each. I lived with those dogs. I picked up their funk. It was not the dogs.”

Amber Heard alleges that Johnny Depp sexually assaulted her:

Heard alleged on day one of her testimony that Depp had sexually abused her and performed a “cavity search” on her against her will after accusing her of hiding his cocaine. Heard testified that Depp had ripped off her dress and underwear, and penetrated her with his fingers.

Dr Dawn Hughes, a forensic psychologist who testified for and ahead of Heard, confirmed that the latter had been sexually assaulted by Depp, and added that she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of being subjected to abuse at the hands of Depp.

Amber Heard says she failed to pay the ACLU and Children’s Hospital because Johnny Depp sued her:

Heard was supposed to divide her divorce settlement of $7 million between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

However, during the course of the ongoing trial, Heard testified that she was unable to fulfil her obligations and had only donated $1.3 million of the $3.5 million she had pledged to the ACLU after the divorce settlement. Depp’s legal counsel further noted that Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, paid $500,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a children’s hospital in Los Angeles, on behalf of Heard.

Amber Heard claims she fought to stay in Aquaman 2:

In her testimony, Heard said that the online attention generated by Adam Waldman’s statements, impacted her professional commitments. Cosmetic brand L’oreal had dropped her from its global campaign. Heard also said that she was left out from the press obligations for the series The Stand, and did not hear from the makers of Aquaman 2 regarding the film’s schedule.


Heard further testified that she believed her role as Mera in Aquaman 2 was scaled back, and said that she had to fight to stay in the film.

Walter Hamada, the head of Warner Bros in DC, testified that after the first film, there were discussions around Heard’s role in the sequel. The dialogue to recast Mera’s character arose from the lack of chemistry between Heard and co-star Jason Momoa, he said.

However, that did not impact Heard’s screen-time in the film, Hamada added. “The size of the role in the film that she has was determined in the early development of the script, which would have happened in 2018, I would say. The character’s involvement in the story was sort of what it was from the beginning.”

He added, “From the early stages of development of the script, the movie was built around the character of Arthur and the character Orm. Arthur being Jason Momoa and Orm being Patrick Wilson. They were always the co-leads of the movie.”

Heard further testified that in December 2014, she had a dream project with writer Clive Barker – a science fiction film. Depp was furious when he found out that she was supposed to meet Barker at his house, Heard said, and added that he had accused her of sleeping with the writer for the project.

Former TMZ employee testifies to receiving tip ahead of Amber Heard’s court visit seeking restraining order:

Apart from Hamada, Morgan Tremaine, who formerly worked with the entertainment platform TMZ, was called in as a rebuttal witness by Depp’s team.

Tremaine, whose testimony was questioned by TMZ in court on Wednesday, testified that he was instructed to dispatch photographers to a Los Angeles courthouse on May 27, 2016 – the day Heard filed for a temporary restraining order against Depp.

“We were trying to capture Amber leaving the courthouse and an alleged bruise on the right side of her face,” he said, and added, “She was going to sort of stop and turn towards the camera to display the bruise on the right side of her face, the alleged bruise.”

Tremaine further testified to receiving a “video depicting Johnny Depp slamming some cabinets that was captured by Ms Heard.” He added that the video that was presented in court was edited.


“It was much shorter than the video that’s been played in this trial,” Tremaine testified. “There was a bit at the beginning that was played here in which Ms Heard is seemingly sort of setting up the camera and getting into position. And then, there’s a bit at the end where she’s seemingly snickering and looks at the camera. That part was not present in what we received.”

Kate Moss testifies for Johnny Depp:

While many high-profile witnesses were expected to testify, including Musk, Franco, and Bettany, none appeared at the Fairfax county court house in Virginia during the trial.

Actor and model Kate Moss, however, did testify for Depp on Wednesday. She recalled Depp helping her out after she had tumbled down a flight of stairs, sometime between 1993 and 1998, when they were together. Her testimony was relevant in that Heard’s team claimed that Depp had pushed her down the stairs.

Heard rested her case on Tuesday. Depp’s team, meanwhile, continues to present witnesses for rebuttal.