Johnny Depp says he is ‘not embarrassed’ as he testifies in trial against ex-wife Amber Heard

‘Within a year, a year and a half, she had become another person almost,’ actor says of ex-wife

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 19 April 2022 22:39 BST
Johnny Depp tells court Amber Heard’s abuse allegations turned him from ‘Cinderella to Quasimodo’
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Johnny Depp has taken the stand in the defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard.

The actor entered the witness booth on the fifth day of the trial, which began on Monday 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia following Mr Depp’s lawsuit against Ms Heard in March 2019. Mr Depp is arguing that she defamed him in a December 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.

Mr Depp said that “about six years ago, Ms Heard made some quite heinous and disturbing criminal” claims against him, adding that the allegations were not within “any species of truth”.

He said, “it was a complete shock... it just didn’t need to go in that direction”.

Mr Depp said there had been “arguments” in the relationship, “but never did I reach the point of striking Ms Heard in any way nor have I ever struck any woman in my life”.

He added that Ms Heard’s accusations “permeated the industry”.

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Depp said the story became a “quote-unquote fact” as it made its way through the global media.

“Since I knew there was no truth to it whatsoever, I felt it was my responsibility to stand up – not only for myself in that instance but stand up for my children, who at the time were 14 and 16,” Mr Depp continued. “So they were in high school and I thought 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.”

The actor said he wanted to clear his name and clear his children from “this horrid thing they were having to read that their father” had done “which was untrue”.

“My goal is the truth because it killed me that people I had spoken with, that I had met with over the years ... would think that I was a fraud and that I had lied to them,” he said.

Mr Depp said the last six years had been “trying times”.

“It’s strange when you’re Cinderella, so to speak, and in 0.6 seconds you’re Quasimodo,” he added.

Johnny Depp tells court Amber Heard’s abuse allegations turned him from ‘Cinderella to Quasimodo’

Mr Depp said he felt exposed testifying as he has been a private person, wanting to shield his children from “hordes of paparazzi” and that he didn’t want his kids to see their parents as “novelties”.

“I can’t say that I’m embarrassed because I know that I’m doing the right thing,” he added.

Speaking about his childhood, Mr Depp said he thought it had been normal “until a certain age”. After being born in Kentucky and moving around – Mr Depp noted that always being the new kid was difficult at times – the family moved to South Florida when he was around seven years old.

Mr Depp said his mom was “very unpredictable” and that her feet were “on fire” – constantly feeling the need to move.

“She had the ability to be as cruel as anyone can be,” Mr Depp said, noting that this also affected his siblings and father. “She was quite violent and she was quite cruel.”

Describing his mother’s violence, Mr Depp said “an ashtray” could be “flung at you”. He added that she would hit her children in the head and that she could use a “high heeled shoe or a telephone or whatever was handy”.

He added that he started being able to see when his mother was about to “head into a situation where she was going to be riled up and somebody was going to get it. Generally, it was me”.

Mr Depp said the family was shellshocked and that the siblings would instinctively shield themselves when their mother walked past because they “didn’t know what was going to happen”.

He said his mother would call his brother “four-eyes” because of his glasses and “buck tooth” because of his front teeth. He added that she grew up in eastern Kentucky, an area where you lived in “shacks”. Mr Depp said she “hated” his father’s “refined” parents.

Mr Depp said the family learned to deal with the physical abuse but that the verbal and psychological abuse “tore us up”.

He described his father as “kind”, “quiet”, and “shy” who would “amazingly remain very stoic” when Mr Depp’s mother “delivered the pain”.

“He swallowed it, he took it,” Mr Depp said, adding that he once saw his father punch a concrete wall, shattering his hand. “He remained a gentleman.”

“He was able to maintain his calm and his compusure,” as well as his “relationship to his children,” Mr Depp said. “He’s a good man.”

Mr Depp went on to say that his father would beat him with a belt at the direction of Betty Sue, his mother. The parents’ relationship finally came to an end when Mr Depp was 15. Mr Depp’s father told him that he had had enough, adding “you’re the man now”.

“I didn’t feel like I was ready to hear those words,” the actor said in court.

Mr Depp said his father leaving led his mother into a “deep, dark depression” and he mimicked her stumbling around the home after taking a multitude “of pills to try to take herself out”. She survived after having her stomach pumped at hospital.

He said his early experiences of family life taught him how to raise children in that he knew he needed to do the “opposite” of what his mother did.

“Never raise your voice in front of the children,” he said adding that he never wanted to “scream ‘no’” to them but to show them that there are options. “You don’t have to stick the coat hanger in the electrical socket.”

At the beginning of his relationship with Ms Heard, Mr Depp said she appeared to be “too good to be true”.

He said it “became a regular thing” for Ms Heard to take his shoes off when he came home from work and give him a glass of wine. When he came home one night and she was busy, he took his own boots off, he said, adding that she approached “with this look on her face” and asked, “what did you just do?”

She said it was “my job” to take his boots off, according to Mr Depp. “That’s what I do, you don’t do that – I do that.”

Mr Depp said he “took pause at that she looked visibly shaken or upset that I had broken her rules of routine”.

“Within a year, a year and a half, she had become another person almost,” he added.

Mr Depp said he had to ramp up his security after the first Pirates of the Caribbean film when people started to try to break into his home to see “Captain Jack Sparrow” and follow his family around.

He said his mother seemed to “calm down” after taking some “nerve pills” and that he, at the age of 11, would take one as well because he wanted “to calm down” but he “didn’t know how to” and that he wanted to “escape feeling so much”.

“That was the beginning – when I realised that nerve pills calm the nerves,” he said, adding that he had taken all the drugs “he was aware of” by the age of 15.

He added that he never used any substances “to party” but that he took them “to numb” himself as “self-medication”.

“The characterisation of my substance abuse that has been delivered by Ms Heard is grossly embellished, and a lot of it, I’m sorry to say, is just plainly false. I think it was an easy target for her to hit,” Mr Depp said from the witness stand.

“I am not some maniac who needs to be loaded or high all the time,” he told the jury.

He said Ms Heard and her friends would “tease” him for his “ludicrous tolerance” because he never appeared affected by drugs or alcohol, later adding that the only thing he has been addicted to is prescription painkillers.

In her 2018 op-ed, Ms Heard partly wrote that “like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim”.

“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she added at the time.

While Mr Depp isn’t named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”. Mr Depp is seeking damages of “not less than $50m”.

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