American actor Amber Heard told London’s High Court on Monday that her ex-husband Johnny Depp had threatened to kill her many times during years of abuse, denying she had made up her allegations of domestic violence.
Depp is suing News Group Newspapers, publishers of Britain’s Sun newspaper, over a 2018 article which labelled him a 'wife beater' and questioned his casting in the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them franchise. The 57-year-old actor, who played Captain Jack Sparrow in the lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean series - told the court last week that all of Heard’s allegations of physical and verbal abuse were untrue.
He says her accusations are a hoax and accuses her of domestic violence against him.
Heard told the court she loved Depp but was terrified of “the monster”, a violent alter ego he became when under the influence of drink or drugs, which she described as the “third party in the relationship”. In a written statement, she said some incidents were so severe that she was afraid he would kill her, deliberately or by losing control.
“He explicitly threatened to kill me many times, especially later in our relationship,” her statement said. Heard, 34, said the actor would obsess about her appearance and would call her “a slut”, “fame-hungry” and “an attention w****” if she wore certain outfits.
Throughout her evidence, Depp’s lawyer Eleanor Laws accused her of lying, saying her account did not tally with the version of events the court had heard from Depp’s friends, staff and others, or tally with medical notes. “I don’t want to call anybody a liar,” Heard said when asked why the accounts were different. “I contradict them, they contradict me.”
Asked whether one argument between the couple had been caused by a clash over whether Heard would sign a pre-nuptial agreement, the actor said she was “not interested in Johnny’s money, never have been”. She added that Depp had told her he would rip up any pre-nuptial agreement - none was ever signed - and told her “the only way out is death”.
Phone throwing accusation
In later evidence, the court focused on an incident from May 2016, when Depp is accused of throwing a phone which struck Heard on the face.
“It looked like he was throwing it as hard as he could,” she said, saying it felt like her eye had “popped out”. She said Depp violently assaulted her and then began to smash up their Los Angeles penthouse, swinging a wine bottle like a club and causing “tonnes of damage”, smashing glass and spilling wine.
Police officers called to the scene have told the court they did not see any damage, and that Heard did not have any visible injuries to her face. Laws accused the actor of cobbling together her story with two friends, and using make-up or lighting to fake injuries in photographs she took of an injury to her eye and cheek she says Depp caused.
“Absolutely not,” Heard said. Questioned as to why the injury could not be seen in one picture in the days afterwards, she replied: “Why would I pick one day and not the other?”. She said if she was out she would wear make-up but two or three day-old bruises were the hardest to conceal.
Wedding, Feb 2015
Heard said Depp disappeared into the bathroom for long periods during the wedding reception and the couple fought that night over his drug use.
“I tried to smile through it and entertain our guests. But I had never felt more lonely in my life.”
Australia, March 2015
Heard described a three-day stay in Australia as an ordeal during which Depp took drugs, drank large volumes of alcohol and became violent and abusive.
She said Depp had at various points slapped her, grabbed her by the neck, smashed her head against a refrigerator, choked her, spat in her face, thrown glass bottles at her, ripped off her nightgown and pushed her down on a marble bar amid broken glass.
“I was against the bar, naked, bent over backwards, my back against the marble. He was pressing so hard on my neck I couldn’t breathe,” Heard said. “I remember thinking he was going to kill me in that moment.”
Heard said Depp had injured his finger during the violence and had daubed the walls with his blood. “The best way I can describe what happened in Australia is that it was like a three-day hostage situation,” Heard said.
Heard alleged that Depp belittled her work and picked fights with her whenever she was filming or auditioning.
She said he accused her of having affairs with actors with whom she had auditioned or co-starred, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Eddie Redmayne, Jim Sturgess, Kevin Costner, Liam Hemsworth, Billy Bob Thornton and Channing Tatum.
“He would taunt me about it – especially when he was drunk or high – and had derogatory nicknames for every one of my male co-stars he considered a sexual threat. For example, Leonardo DiCaprio was ‘pumpkin-head’, Channing Tatum was ‘potato-head’ and ‘Jim Turd Sturgess’.”
Heard rejected Depp’s allegation that she or one of her friends had defecated in the couple’s bed, which he described in court as “a fitting end” to the relationship. Heard said one of the couple’s dogs may have done it, as had happened before.
“Johnny knew this, which is why I find his accusation was so ridiculous. My friends and I call this ‘Poopgate’.”
Verbal abuse and slurs
Heard said Depp would object to any outfit he considered too revealing and hurl sexualised verbal abuse at her. “Sometimes he used racial epithets about the men I would be - or deserved to be - assaulted by.”
Controlling behaviour and career impact
Heard alleged that Depp would demand to know about any romantic scene in her films and complain about how audiences would get to watch her engaging in sexual acts. He imposed ever tighter restrictions on what nudity or scenes were acceptable.
“I found myself making concessions and turning down work. My salary went down every year I was with him because of all the work I was missing.”
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