EXPLAINER: Wild Johnny Depp testimony, cross-examination

For three days, Johnny Depp has been testifying in a defamation lawsuit that, at least in theory, is about whether Amber Heard defamed him in a 2018 op-ed.

The trial turned into a spectacle in which Depp testified to everything from taking pills as a child to a near-mental breakdown in which the actor said he used his severed finger to write on walls in his own blood to tell his ex-wife. alleged lies.


Heard’s lawyers had warned that the trial would be a life-saving soap opera that would expose the “real Johnny Depp”. Depp denies ever abusing Heard and, despite public attention on his drug use and violent text messages, he has said he is obsessed with telling the truth and does not want to disappoint those who admired him.

“My focus is on the truth because it killed me that all these people I had met over the years…that these people thought I was an impostor,” Depp said Tuesday.

The actor said his movie career suffered after Heard wrote a 2018 opinion piece in The Washington Post in which she called herself a “public figure representing domestic violence.”

Heard never mentioned Depp by name, but Depp’s lawyers said it was a clear reference to the charges Heard brought when she sought a restraining order against him in 2016.

Depp said the accusations and the article made him a Hollywood pariah and cost him his role in the lucrative “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise.

Heard’s attorneys argued that Heard’s opinion piece was accurate and did not defame him. They said Depp’s ruined reputation was due to his own bad behavior and argued that The Walt Disney Co. had already decided to remove Depp from “Pirates of the Caribbean” months before the article was published.


Heard accused Depp of repeatedly physically and sexually assaulting her before and during their brief marriage, often in situations where she said he had been drinking so much he then passed out.

Depp said Heard’s allegations of drug addiction were “grossly embellished” and that he never got out of control during this time. The two met in 2009, married in 2015, and Heard filed for divorce a year later.

Heard’s lawyers highlighted numerous text messages Depp sent to friends recounting the large amount of alcohol and drugs he had taken at a time when he claimed he was not a problem drinker.

Depp took a similar action in England against a newspaper there and lost. The judge found that Depp assaulted Heard a dozen times and made him fear for his life on several occasions.

Heard is expected to testify later in the trial.


Depp and Heard met while filming “The Rum Diary,” a 2011 Depp-produced film based on an initially unpublished novel by the late Hunter S. Thompson that Depp discovered while going through the gonzo journalist’s papers with Thompson, his friend.

Depp said Heard was the perfect embodiment of the book’s femme fatale character named Chenault. “It’s the Chenault that Hunter wants,” recalls Depp. “Yeah, she could definitely kill me.”

They started dating a few years later, with Depp portraying the start of their relationship as a classic Hollywood romance. Depp called Heard “Slim,” while she called him “Steve,” nicknames used by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s characters in the 1944 film “To Have and Have Not.”

Depp, 58, said he was also aware of the age difference between himself and Heard, 36, and compared it to the 25-year gap between Bogart and Bacall.

“I recognize the fact that I was the old craggy mist and she was this beautiful creature,” he said.


Depp said things started to change in his marriage when he felt he was “suddenly wrong about everything” in Heard’s eyes.

Depp said Heard frisked him, demeaned him and berated him. The insults turned into full-fledged circular arguments from which there was “no way out,” Depp said. “It was kind of a rapid fire, kind of endless parade of insults,” Depp said.

Soon after, Heard began physically attacking her, Depp said. He said she once threw two bottles of vodka at him, the second of which exploded and severed his finger at the point where the bone was exposed. Depp said he used the obtained blood to write on his walls and tell lies in which he surprised Heard. At the hospital, Depp said he lied to protect Heard and told doctors he injured himself. Heard’s lawyers say he cut his finger.


One of the main points of contention is what happened on a private flight from Boston to Los Angeles in 2014 that Depp and Heard took while filming the gangster movie “Black Mass.”

Heard said Depp assaulted her during the robbery while dead drunk.

Depp testified that he took two pills of oxycodone – an opiate he admits he was addicted to at the time – and locked himself in the plane’s bathroom and fell asleep to avoid she does not harass her.

He told the court that he only drank a glass of champagne when boarding. But the texts he sent at the time to actor Paul Bettany referred to the consumption of half a bottle of whisky, “a thousand Red Bull vodkas” and two bottles of champagne before the flight.

Heard’s attorneys also pointed to text messages Depp sent to Heard after the robbery, saying, “Once again, I find myself in a place of shame and regret. … I have to get better.”


Heard’s attorneys focused on text messages Depp sent to Bettany in which he expressed a desire to kill and desecrate Heard.

After saying he wanted to burn her, Depp wrote, “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I’ll (expletive) burn her corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.

Depp apologized to the jury for the vulgar language and said “in the heat of the pain I felt I went to dark places”. He also compared his writing to the gonzo style of Thompson, which often incorporated brash language and embellished thoughts.


Despite the dark accusations and profane text messages read out in court, Depp’s testimony occasionally featured humorous moments.

When asked if he sometimes drinks whiskey in the morning, Depp replied, “I mean, isn’t it happy hour anytime?”

And asked if he ever gave musician Marilyn Manson pills, Depp admitted he once gave Manson a pill to get him to “stop talking so much”.

Depp also admitted that he had never watched “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” the 2003 megahit in which he played Captain Jack Sparrow. When asked how the movie went, Depp smiled and said, “I haven’t seen it, but… well, the movie went pretty well, apparently.”

And then there’s the bizarre issue of alleged penis vandalism. Heard’s lawyer repeatedly asked Depp if he was responsible for drawing a penis on a painting inside his home shortly after the actor said Heard cut his finger. “Drawing a penis on a painting wasn’t the first thing that came to mind,” Depp said.


The trial is being held in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia.

Heard’s attorneys had sought to have the case tried in California, where the actors reside. But a judge ruled Depp was within his rights to bring the case to Virginia because the Washington Post’s computer servers for its online edition are located in the county.

Depp’s attorneys said they took the case to Virginia in part because the laws here were more favorable to their case.

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