Johnny Depp has told a court his ex-wife Amber Heard’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual abuse are “heinous and disturbing” – and that he is “obsessed” with getting to the truth.
Giving testimony for the first time on the fifth day of the libel trial, Depp began by admitting he and Heard argued during their relationship but said he “never” reached the point of hitting her – and “nor have I ever struck any woman in my life”.
He told the jury in Fairfax, Virginia, that his ex-wife’s allegations had “permeated” the entertainment industry and become “a global, let’s say ‘fact’, if you will”.
The actor said he felt he had to stand up for himself and his two children, Lily-Rose and Jack, whose mother is his former partner Vanessa Paradis. They were teenagers when Heard’s claims were first made public and it is “diabolical” they were exposed to the allegations while still at school, Depp said.
“I felt it was my responsibility to clear my name and my children of this horrid thing that they were having to read about their father,” he said. “My goal is the truth, because it killed me that people I’d met over the years… would think that I was a fraud and had lied to them”.
He went on to reference his current standing in Hollywood compared with his lucrative career before the allegations were made.
“It’s very strange when you’re Cinderella, so to speak, and then in 0.6 seconds you’re Quasimodo. I didn’t deserve that. I pride myself on honesty and truth. Truth is the only thing I’m interested in, lies will get you nowhere. I’m obsessed with the truth,” he said.
Wearing a dark suit and pale paisley tie, with his hair in a ponytail, Depp told the court he knew the case would be “exposing” both for him and Heard, but that he had no choice but to defend himself against her allegations.
“It never had to go in this direction,” he said. “I can’t say I’m embarrassed because I know I’m doing the right thing.”
Depp is suing Heard for libel for $50m (£38.2m), while Heard has issued a counterclaim for $100m (£76.4m). The case has been brought over a 2018 article she wrote in The Washington Post, which his lawyers say falsely implies he physically and sexually abused her.
The column did not mention Depp by name, but was titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath.” The actor’s lawyers have told the court it is clear Heard was referencing her ex-husband.
During his testimony, Depp told the court about their relationship, saying he initially thought it was “too good to be true” but did notice things that “might be a bit of a dilemma at some point”.
He said Heard developed a “routine” when he came home from work, of giving him a glass of wine and taking his boots off, and that she had become upset when he once disrupted it.
Depp told the court about his roles in the Pirates Of The Caribbean films, explaining that after the success of the first, which was released in 2003, he was forced to increase his security to protect his family.
“I’ve had worse jobs… [but] you realise that anonymity has left the building,” he told the court. “It does mean you have to think creatively when you have little kids on how to take them to the park or the swings. It becomes a strategic mission.”
He added: “Security guards kind of multiplied because you need to protect your street, your house, your kids. Endless.”
Depp and Heard: The background
The former couple started dating after meeting on the set of the 2011 film The Rum Diary, and married in Los Angeles in February 2015, followed by a ceremony in the Bahamas.
Heard obtained a restraining order against Depp in May 2016 after accusing him of abuse, which he denied, and the pair settled their divorce out of court in 2017.
Many of the witnesses involved in this case in the US were previously called to give evidence in Depp’s 2020 trial in London, in which he sued the publisher of The Sun newspaper over an article that referred to him as a “wife-beater”.
The judge in that case found the claims in the article to be “substantially true” and Depp was later refused permission to appeal the case at the Court Of Appeal.
In the libel case in Virginia, Depp is suing Heard, not the publication. Fairfax County state court judge Penney Azcarate is overseeing the trial, which is in its second week and is expected to last for six weeks in total, with a week’s break in May.