Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis say domestic violence allegations against Johnny Depp ‘impossible to believe’

Actor’s former partners say claims are ‘horrific’ and ‘outrageous’

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 16 July 2020 22:10 BST
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at the High Court as libel hearing continues

Johnny Depp’s former partners Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis have described the allegations of domestic violence made against him by his former wife Amber Heard as “impossible to believe”.

The pair said the allegations were “horrific” and “outrageous” and said Depp was “never violent or abusive” to them.

They were due to give evidence in support of the 57-year-old’s libel claim against the publisher of The Sun this week, but neither were called to give evidence at the High Court case against News Group Newspapers (NGN) over alleviations he was a “wife beater”.

Their witness statements were released to the media on Thursday, the eighth day of the trial at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Ryder, who starred with Depp in the film Edward Scissorhands, said her experience with the Pirates of the Caribbean actor was “wildly different” to the one depicted by Heard, 34. She said she found the “horrific” allegations “impossible to believe”.

The actor, who was in a relationship with Depp during the early 1990s, said in her statement: “I knew Johnny very well years ago. We were together as a couple for four years, and I counted him as my best friend, and as close to me as family.

“I count our relationship as one of the more significant relationships of my life.

“I understand that it is very important that I speak from my own experience, as I obviously was not there during his marriage to Amber, but, from my experience, which was so wildly different, I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him.

“The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved.

“I cannot wrap my head around these accusations. He was never, never violent towards me. He was never, never abusive at all towards me. He has never been violent or abusive towards anybody I have seen.”

Ryder added: “I truly and honestly only know him as a really good man – an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy who was so very protective of me and the people that he loves and I felt so very, very safe with him.”

Amber Heard waves as she leaves the High Court in London (AFP/Getty)
Amber Heard waves as she leaves the High Court in London (AFP/Getty) (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Paradis, who was in a relationship with Mr Depp for 14 years and had two children with him, said she has known him for more than 25 years and described him as “a kind, attentive, generous, and non-violent person and father”.

She said: “On movie sets the actors, directors and entire crews adore him because he is humble and respectful to everyone, as well as being one of the best actors we’ve seen.”

Referring to the allegations made by Heard, Paradis said: “This is nothing like the true Johnny I have known and, from my personal experience of many years, I can say he was never violent or abusive to me.

“I have seen that these outrageous statements have been really distressing, and also caused damage to his career because unfortunately people have gone on believing these false facts.

“This is so upsetting as he has helped so many persons in his personal and professional life, with kindness and generosity.”

Ryder and Paradis were set to appear via videolink from their respective homes in Los Angeles and France, but Depp’s legal team decided not to call them to give live evidence.

Sasha Wass QC, representing NGN, said she would have wanted to cross-examine Paradis and Ryder, but could not if they were no longer to be called as witnesses.

On Thursday, the High Court heard from Depp’s head of security, Sean Bett, who claimed Heard was “verbally and physically abusive” throughout the relationship.

Photo of Depp with injuries allegedly sustained from Heard during an incident in Los Angeles in March 2015
Photo of Depp with injuries allegedly sustained from Heard during an incident in Los Angeles in March 2015 (PA)

Mr Bett, a former deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said there was a “recurring cycle” in which Heard would “abuse” the Hollywood star, who would then “remove himself from the situation”.

He also said Depp had told him that “Ms Heard had slapped him on the face a few times”.

The court also heard evidence from Starling Jenkins, who has provided security services to Depp since 1993, who claimed he had to retrieve Depp’s mobile phone from a homeless man in exchange for $425 (£335) and food including “three chicken tacos” after Heard threw it off a balcony.

Mr Jenkins said he drove Heard and her friends to the Coachella music festival on 22 April 2016, the day after Depp is alleged to have grabbed Heard by the hair and shoved her in a heated row after Heard’s 30th birthday party at the couple’s LA penthouse.

He said that, when he arrived at the apartment, he “saw no marks or bruises of any kind on her face or body”.

Mr Jenkins also claimed Heard was “hooping it up all weekend”, adding: “It was clear that she and her girlfriends spent much of the time at Coachella intoxicated.”

Depp is suing NGN and The Sun’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, over the publication of an article on 27 April 2018 with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”.

His lawyers say the article bore the meaning that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Depp assaulted Heard on a number of occasions and left her “in fear for her life”.

NGN is defending the article as true, and says Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs”.

On Friday, the court is due to hear evidence from witnesses including Katherine Kendall, an actress and #MeToo advocate who claims she was “misquoted” in The Sun’s article, before Heard is due to begin three days of evidence on Monday morning.

Additional reporting by PA

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