Johnny Depp v Amber Heard

Jack Sparrow cosplayers, court campers and dogs dressed as lawyers: Fans at the Depp v Heard trial

For the last six weeks, hundreds have descended on the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia for the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. With the trial drawing to a close, Rachel Sharp speaks to the fans about why they turned up

Friday 27 May 2022 13:32 BST
Supporters gathered outside the courthouse on Thursday morning
Supporters gathered outside the courthouse on Thursday morning (The Independent)

Yvonne Deboer booked a whole year off work to support Johnny Depp.

The travel agent and self-proclaimed “number one fan” left behind her life in Los Angeles to come to Fairfax, Virginia, for the entirety of the actor’s defamation trial.

For the last six weeks, she has spent every day inside the courtroom watching the case unfold and every night camped outside the courthouse to snap up one of the limited spaces in the public gallery the next morning.

“I get here [in the line] at 1 in the morning and then we get into the court at 9am,” she told The Independent on Thursday morning of the routine that has consumed her life since 11 April.

“I’m then leaving at 5.30pm or 6pm [when the court day ends], going to bed for four hours and then I get up and do it all again. Every day. I’ve been here the whole six weeks, every day.”

Sporting a Johnny Depp tote bag slung over her shoulder, she said she had “to be here for” the Pirates star who she has loved for the last “36 years”.

“I’m his number one fan,” she said.

“I love him dearly. I believe him and I’m here just for him, to support him.

“I have to be here for him and do anything I can for him.”

She added: “He needs to have his justice. He needs to have his name cleared.”

Ms Deboer was speaking from her spot close to the front of the huge line of people snaking around Fairfax County Courthouse early on Thursday morning, hoping to get a seat inside the courtroom on the trial’s final day before closing arguments.

Camille and her daughters Britney and Ashley wear t-shirts with quotes from Johnny Depp’s now-in famous testimony (The Independent)

Some wore pirate hats or t-shirts featuring the now-infamous line “Isn’t happy hour anytime?” from Mr Depp’s courtroom testimony.

Some had gifts or letters they hoped to be able to hand to the Hollywood star.

Others had travelled across the US from their homes in Ohio and California just to catch a glimpse of the man they had grown up watching on their screens.

Christy, an aspiring actress from New Jersey, said she got to the courthouse at 2am so she would be at the front of the line for a seat in the gallery.

She said she had written a letter that she wanted to hand to Mr Depp telling him what an “inspiration” he has been to her own career.

“I’m an aspiring actress and have a heart condition that is deteriorating my body so I’m living my life as full as I can and doing whatever I want so I came down by myself to do this,” she said.

“Johnny Depp has always been an inspiration in my career as an actress so I want to give back some support and show him that he’s an important influence in my life.

“And say to him ‘I don’t want anything from you, I just want you to know what you mean to me.’”

Robin and Randy Naler dressed their dogs as ‘Depp legal team’ (The Independent )

Christy said that she has been on Mr Depp’s side “from day one” and was “hated” by people for standing by him when the allegations surfaced.

“I was being bullied and made fun of when I stood with Johnny Depp long ago before the truth came out,” she said.

After watching him for years, she said she couldn’t believe he could be “a bad man”.

“You could just tell from years of watching his general nature that it is impossible for him to be a bad man,” she said.

She added of Ms Heard: “And she’s got this psycho look to her.”

Retired teacher and “super fan” Teressa also turned up with a gift she was hoping to hand to Mr Depp.

She told The Independent that her family had recently moved to Virginia from Floyd County, Kentucky – where Mr Depp’s family are from.

She used to work with one of his cousins and would often go to the local fudge shop that his uncle ran, she said.

Around 10 years ago, Teressa said she stumbled across an old Floyd County school yearbook from 1964 with Mr Depp’s mother in.

She kept hold of it and dug it out of a box to bring to the courthouse.

Teressa brought along a school yearbook to give to Johnny Depp (The Independent)

“I just want him to have it as his mom is in this yearbook when she was a junior in high school,” she said.

“I’m sure he’ll want it. My husband said ‘I can’t believe you’re taking that smelly yearbook’ but I’d want to have it if it was my mom.

“I would love to give this to him.”

Teressa described herself as a “superfan”, in part because of their shared ties to Floyd County.

“I’ve always had an affinity for him as he was born in Kentucky,” she said, joking that she and Mr Depp “have grown up together”.

“I’ve always heard everybody loves him, the set people… and every interview you see and all his life it’s been talked about how he’s kind, generous and does not want to be in the spotlight. He’s kind of uncomfortable with it,” she said.

“We’ve always loved him and it’s just terrible what’s happened and whether he wins or loses America is behind him 100 percent and this has just boosted his popularity,” she said of the trial.

“So yeah we’re hanging tight with Johnny.”

Teressa said she has “never been a fan” of Ms Heard, saying she thought she was “too young” for Mr Depp when they married and was “a golddigger”.

“And who can not be nice to Johnny Depp?” she asked.

Danny the dog came from Ohio with his owners (The Independent)

For Robin and Randy Naler, part of their decision to come to court and cheer on Mr Depp is because they want to show support for men who have been “wrongly accused” of domestic or sexual violence.

Ms Naler told The Independent that her husband was falsely accused of things during a “terrible divorce” years ago and so they support Mr Depp “fighting back” against Ms Heard’s accusations.

“We’re here to support Johnny and all the other men who have been wrongly accused,” she said.

She added: “Men have lost jobs and positions over mere allegations and that has to change.”

The couple drove all the way from Cincinnati with their two dogs Donald and Danny to stand and cheer as Mr Depp’s car drove into the court grounds.

Donald and Danny were dressed for the day in ties and coats reading “Depp legal team” as they awaited the actor’s arrival.

Ms Naler added that it was also about having “a little bit of fun”, saying that getting “a wave [from Mr Depp] is really all I need”.

While the self-confessed “super-fans” admitted they had formed opinions on the former spouses long before the defamation case, some gatherers at the courthouse said they sided with Mr Depp after watching the trial unfold.

Two Amber Heard supporters Dan Brummitt and Christina Taft are outnumbered (The Independent )

“Before the case, I was pretty indifferent,” said Noah, who had come to the courthouse with his friend Yuvi.

“I had watched Pirates of the Caribbean but had no real opinion. From watching the case, I am now team Johnny.”

Among the dozens of people The Independent spoke with, only two said that they were there in support of Ms Heard.

Dan Brummitt and Christina Taft have been carrying out a social media study which they said shows Ms Heard has fallen victim to online disinformation during the case.

Ms Taft said she would describe them as being different to fans – as “supporters of good, tech ethics and Amber Heard”.

The pair acknowledged that they were outnumbered outside the courthouse, revealing that they had come across just three other supporters of the Aquaman actress during their days in Fairfax.

The dramatic skew in support for the two former spouses became even clearer when they both arrived at the courthouse for the start of the day’s proceedings.

A long line of people camped out overnight to get seats in the public gallery (The Independent)

Mr Depp’s car arrived first.

Screams, cheers and chants of “Johnny” filled the air.

The actor smiled and waved out of the window at the crowds.

Fans then clambered up the sides of the walls to the courthouse grounds to try to catch a glimpse (as local sheriffs shouted at them to get down).

A few minutes later, Ms Heard’s vehicle drove past.

The one lone voice of Ms Taft was heard shouting “we support Amber Heard” through a megaphone competing with a roar of jeers and boos.

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