Johnny Depp was a drug addict prone to violent rages and a misogynist who assaulted his wife and used abusive language about women, London court heard on Monday as the actor’s libel trial against a British tabloid neared its end.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star is suing News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun, and one of its journalists, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article that called him a “wife beater”.
Depp, 57, and his former wife Amber Heard, 34, both gave evidence at the trial. Depp said he was never violent towards Heard or any other woman and she was the one who attacked him. Heard described multiple incidents when she said Depp assaulted her.
Summarising the defence case, that the allegation of wife beating was true, lawyer Sasha Wass portrayed the actor as “a hopeless addict”.
She read from an email Heard had sent to herself in 2013, before the couple married, in which she recorded her feelings about Depp’s drug-fuelled rages. The email was addressed to Depp but not sent to him.
“You have hit me repeated. something you should Never have done ... And None of this would be possible without the booze and drugs. NONE,” Heard wrote.
Wass said Depp’s excessive drug-taking led to uncontrolled outbursts during which he would become a violent alter ego he called “The Monster”, and his memories of his own behaviour were impaired by drugs and alcohol.
Wass quoted from a text Heard sent Depp in 2014. “I am scared, Johnny, so scared, I watch as this thing steals my life out from under me,” Heard wrote. “He steals my man from me and replaces him with something terrifying and unrecognisable.”
Wass accused Depp of “deep misogyny”, citing texts and emails in which he used words like “w****”, “s***” or “worthless hooker” about Heard and other women. She quoted from texts he had sent in 2013 to actor Paul Bettany in which he had spoken about drowning and burning Heard.
“Mr Depp has sought to deploy the more old-fashioned methods used to discredit women. She is a gold-digger, a shrew and an adulterer,” the lawyer said, adding jealousy was the catalyst for many violent episodes.
She said Heard denied cheating on Depp, and it was irrelevant, and that as a successful actor Heard was financially independent.
“Underlying the relationship was a clash of cultures and generations,” Wass said, describing Heard as a young, ambitious actor. She said Depp did not want her to keep appearing in films with young, attractive actors and it made him angry that he could not control her.
By accusing Heard of physically assaulting him, Depp was seeking to reverse the roles of offender and victim, Wass said. Accused of violence and excessive drug-taking, he had responded by levelling the same accusations at her. Addressing one of the arguments made by Depp’s legal team - that no witness apart from Heard or her sister said they had seen Depp hit Heard - Wass said domestic violence took place behind closed doors.
She also rejected Depp's team’s accusation that Heard had made up her allegations as part of a hoax, saying it was “risible” to suggest that Heard would have accumulated a dossier of false information over the entire course of the relationship.
After the couple split up, Wass said, Depp set out to destroy Heard.
“She’s begging for total global humiliation... She’s gonna get it,” he said in a text to a friend in 2016. “I have no mercy, no fear and not an ounce of emotion, or what I once thought was love, for this gold digging, low level, dime a dozen, mushy pointless dangling overused flappy fish market.”
He also described in very graphic terms an act of violence he would like to commit against someone he called “Mollusk”. Depp had accused Heard of cheating on him with tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, which she denies. Depp’s lawyer, David Sherborne, is due to make his closing arguments on Tuesday. A ruling is not expected immediately.
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