Amber Heard timeline: Everything you need to know about her life, relationships and career

The tumultuous Depp vs Heard trial that took place last year will be explored in a new Channel 4 documentary

Inga Parkel,Ellie Muir
Sunday 21 May 2023 21:08 BST
Amber Heard discusses Johnny Depp verdict in first TV interview

Amber Heard‘s infamous defamation trial against her ex-husband Johnny Depp is the subject of a new documentary set to air this weekend.

The pair became embroiled in a high-profile legal battle last year, with Depp suing Heard for $50m (£38.2m) for implying he abused her in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed.

After a six-week testimonial period, Depp won his defamation case against Heard, with a jury awarding him $15m (£12m) in damages. The jury also awarded Heard $2m (£1.6m) for one part of her own counterclaim, that Depp’s lawyer had allegedly called her abuse accusations against her ex-husband a hoax.

Following the verdict, Heard released a statement that she was “heartbroken” by the jury’s decision.

“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” she said at the time.

More than a year on, the trial is being put back on display through Netflix’s new series Depp v Heard.

Below is a look into who Amber Heard is, including her early life, film and television career and everything in between.

Early Life

Amber Laura Heard was born on 22 April 1986 in Austin, Texas, to David Heard and Paige Parsons. She has one younger sister, Whitney Heard, who is now 35 years old. The two were raised in a conservative Catholic household with modest finances. In her younger years, Heard competed in beauty pageants. At the age of 16, her best friend died in a car accident, and as a result, Heard became an atheist. She dropped out of school aged 17 to pursue a modelling career in New York, until later switching to acting in Los Angeles. She eventually earned her high school diploma through a home-study course.

Acting Career

Amber Heard in Kenny Chesney’s “There Goes My Life”
Amber Heard in Kenny Chesney’s “There Goes My Life” (YouTube/Kenny Chesney)

In 2004, Heard appeared in two music videos; country artist Kenny Chesney’s “There Goes My Life” and rock band Eisley’s “I Wasn’t Prepared”. She also landed small supporting roles on a number of TV shows, including Jack & Bobby (2004), The Mountain (2004), and The OC (2005).

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She made her film debut with a minor role in the 2004 sports drama Friday Night Lights, which later inspired the TV show of the same name. Heard received her first leading role in the thriller All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, which premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. Due to distribution issues, it wasn’t released until 2008 in Europe and 2013 in the US.

In 2007, Heard had cameos in the teen drama Hidden Palms and the sitcom Californication. That same year, she appeared in the short film Day 73 with Sarah, and the indie film Remember the Daze.

Best Acting Roles

It wasn’t until Heard’s 2008 role in the comedy-action film Pineapple Express, starring alongside Seth Rogen, James Franco and Danny McBride, that she gained mainstream recognition.

Later, she appeared in 2009’s Zombieland and in 2011 appeared opposite Depp in The Rum Diary, based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Hunter S Thompson. Another role was in the 2015 comedy-drama Magic Mike XXL.

Her portrayal of Mera in the DC-verse in 2017 film Justice League is perhaps her most notable role and one that she reprised in 2018 film Aquaman with Jason Momoa and its sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which is expected to premiere in 2023.

Amber Heard in ‘Aquaman'
Amber Heard in ‘Aquaman' (Warner Bros)

Personal Life

In 2020, Heard posted an Instagram photo announcing her mother’s death.

Nearly a year later, she shared the news that her first child, daughter Oonagh Paige Heard, had been born on 8 April 2021 through a surrogate.

She captioned the photo, explaining: “Four years ago, I decided I wanted to have a child. I wanted to do it on my own terms. I now appreciate how radical it is for us as women to think about one of the most fundamental parts of our destinies in this way. I hope we arrive at a point in which it’s normalised to not want a ring in order to have a crib.”

The father’s identity has not been made public.

Heard has since been private about motherhood, typically posting photos with Oonagh’s face covered or looking away from the camera.

Dating History

From 2008 to 2012, Heard dated photographer Tasya van Ree, and came out as bisexual in 2010.

Heard and Depp are believed to have started dating in 2012, reportedly meeting on the set of The Rum Diary. They became engaged in 2014 and got married in 2015, with Heard filing for divorce five months later in 2016.

Heard is believed to have dated billionaire Elon Musk on and off between 2016 and 2018. Subsequently, she began dating art dealer Vito Schnabel in 2018, with their relationship lasting less than a year.

Her latest public relationship was with cinematographer Bianca Butti from 2020 to 2021. The pair quietly dated, with Butti even accompanying Heard to many of her court cases. It’s reported that the two broke up due to distance.

Amber Heard and ex-girlfriend Tasya van Ree
Amber Heard and ex-girlfriend Tasya van Ree (Getty Images)

Legal Past

During Depp and Heard’s 2016 divorce proceedings, it was revealed that Heard had been arrested in Washington State in 2009 on misdemeanour domestic violence charges. She had allegedly grabbed Van Ree and hit her arm, but was never charged.

Van Ree then issued a statement that the incident had been “misinterpreted and over-sensationalised” and Heard had been “wrongfully” accused.

In 2018, Depp sued News Group Newspapers, the company that publishes The Sun, for alleged libel over an article published in the tabloid newspaper in April of that year, with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”

The case went to trial in 2020, with Heard testifying as a witness for The Sun. Depp lost the case and was denied permission to appeal.

in 2018, an op-ed by Heard was published by The Washington Post, titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”

Heard did not name Depp in the article, but spoke of how, in 2016, she became “a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out”. Depp’s $50m lawsuit against Heard accused her of defaming him, with the complaint calling any claim of domestic abuse “categorically and demonstrably false”. Heard then filed a $100m countersuit, accusing Depp of orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her.

Depp v Heard went to trial in Fairfax, Virginia, on 11 April 2022. Depp won the case against Heard on 1 June 2022, after two days of deliberating by the jury, and was awarded compensatory damages of $10m dollars (£8m) and a further $5m dollars (£4m) in punitive damages.

Heard in court
Heard in court (AP)


When Heard isn’t jetting between filming locations, she maintains a significant philanthropic presence. She advocates for women’s and children’s rights. Devoting her time to humanitarian organisations, including Amnesty International and Art of Elysium, which promotes human rights globally, and Syrian American Medical Society, which assists Syrian refugees.

She was also named the Human Rights Champion of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018.

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