One of the ugliest celebrity divorces to ever come out of Hollywood has to be that of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. After meeting on the set of The Rum Diaries in 2009, the pair started dating in 2012. In 2015, they tied the knot, but the actress filed for divorce a mere 15 months later. What followed was an incredibly public he said/she said filled with so many twists and turns, it would give M. Night Shyamalan whiplash.
There were tabloid photos, leaked audio recordings, and stories of messages written in blood. Heard filed for a restraining order and made allegations of physical abuse. Depp denied this and accused his ex-wife of being a perpetrator of domestic violence, not a victim. In late 2016, they settled out of court. Heard walked away with an incredible seven million, Depp took a significant career hit, and the rest of us thought the legal battles were over.
Alas, we were all wrong. In 2018, Heard wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in which she spoke about being a victim of abuse. While she didn’t overtly name Depp in the piece, the implication was clear. Depp responded with a $50 million defamation lawsuit against the actress and Heard subsequently counter-sued for $100 million.
Now, nearly four years later, the trial has finally started in Virginia. And it’s being televised so that every sordid detail will be aired to the masses. We’re two weeks into what is set to be a six-week trial, and already there’s been bombshell after bombshell. Here are some of the most shocking moments we’ve seen so far.
Judge Penney Doesn’t Play Around
Presiding over the trial is Judge Penney S. Azcarate, and from what we’ve seen so far, she doesn’t mess around. Eve Barlow, a journalist and close friend of Amber’s, was kicked out of the courtroom after it was discovered that she was texting and posting information about the trial on social media. That was a violation of a court order; thus, she’s been barred from the trial by the honorable Judge Penney.
Milani Would Very Much Like To Be Excluded From This Narrative
Amber’s attorney made a seemingly innocuous claim during their opening arguments, saying that no one ever saw bruises on the actress because she covered them with makeup. The lawyer then held up Milani’s All In One Correcting Kit, identifying it as the product Heard used to cover the bruises. But Milani Cosmetics wasn’t having it. The company responded, taking to TikTok (why TikTok, though?) to respond that the concealer in question, the All In One Correcting Kit, wasn’t even released until after their divorce was finalized.
A Severed Fingertip
On the stand, Depp testified that Heard threw a glass bottle of vodka at him in 2015 while the pair was in Australia. The glass shattered and severed the tip of his middle finger. He went on to say that he felt like he was having a “nervous breakdown” and began writing on the walls with his blood. Three surgeries were required to fix the damage.
Multiple photos were shown to the jury, one of which shows the actor lying on a stretcher. In court, Depp stated that a mark on his cheek was from a cigarette Heard burnt him with. At the hospital, Depp claims he chose not to tell the doctors what happened to try and protect her, a survival tactic that is not at all uncommon amongst victims of abuse.
Revenge Is Best Served As A Steaming Pile of Shit
You might have seen #MePoo trending on Twitter recently, and this is why. After getting into an argument during Heard’s 30th birthday party, Depp claims that when he wanted to go back to their shared home to retrieve his belongings, Heard had left “human fecal matter” on his side of the bed. Yep, you read that right. She allegedly took a shit on the bed—there’s even a photo to corroborate this.
“About The Lowest Point” In Depp’s Life
Much has been made of Johnny Depp’s substance issues during this trial—the defense has been making it a point to portray the actor as someone who abuses both drugs and alcohol. Although he did testify, Depp hasn’t denied this, “The characterization of my quote-unquote ‘substance abuse’ as described by Ms. Heard is grossly embellished, and a lot of it is just plain false.” In fact, during one portion of his testimony, he spoke about opiate addiction, saying he decided to fly to his private island to detox.
While it’s crazy to think this man owns his damn island, the most shocking part came next. Depp described a moment when Heard withheld his medication, telling him it was “not time” to take them. Depp said the moment was “about the lowest point in my life.”
A Litany Of Texts, Videos, And Audio Clips
Johnny Depp’s cross-examination was absolutely excruciating to listen to. Not only did the defense repeatedly bring up his drug use, but there was also a barrage of incredibly disturbing text messages, video clips, and audio recordings brought in for evidence.
First, there were the text messages. In one exchange with actor Paul Bettany, Depp wrote, “I will fuck her burnt corpse afterward to make sure she is dead.” Other messages see the actor calling her a whore and using the c-word to describe his ex, Vanessa Paradis. When asked about these, Depp stated that he wasn’t proud of his vulgar language but insisted he uses dark humor and venting.
The jury was also shown a video clip of Depp slamming cabinets and repeatedly cursing. When he realizes Heard is filming him, he storms out of the kitchen. On the stand, Depp noted that while he did “assault a couple of cabinets,” he never physically harmed Heard. He also mentioned that he was, in fact, being illegally recorded.
But perhaps the most challenging thing to hear was an audiotape in which Johnny is attempting to self-harm. As he listened to it in court, Depp appeared tearful and broken. It’s not hard to imagine the pain of having some of your worst moments displayed to the public.
Heard’s Attorney Objected To His Own Questioning
On a less grave note, one of Amber Heard’s attorneys, Adam Nadelhaft, tried to object to his question on Monday. At the same time, he questioned Depp’s house manager, Ben King, about the 2015 fight, which resulted in Depp’s finger being severed. (King testified that he later found part of Depp’s finger.) Nadelhaft asked King, “You didn’t know what could cause damage to Mr. Depp’s hand while you were there on March 8, correct?” King responded that a doctor told him that one of Depp’s fingers was injured. Nadelhaft cut in with an objection, saying King’s response was “hearsay.” “Wait—you asked the question,” the judge replied before instructing Nadelhaft to move on to the next question.
There are still several weeks left of the trial, which began on April 12 and is expected to last about six weeks. Along with Depp’s defamation allegations, the seven-person jury also considers Heard’s countersuit, which she filed in 2020. Depp’s testimony concluded on Monday, and Heard is expected to testify.
Battle of the Experts
Amber Heard has claimed to suffer from PTSD as a result of being in an abusive relationship with Depp. That claim, then, opened the door for Heard to undergo psychological evaluations as part of the trial.
Dr. Shannon Curry, a clinical and forensic psychologist hired by Depp’s legal team, testified about her evaluation of Heard. She concluded that Amber did not have PTSD, but that she “grossly” exaggerated symptoms of PTSD. Additionally, she diagnosed the actress with Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder, both of which are characterized by dramatic, unpredictable, or overly emotional behaviors.
Amber Heard’s team, however, hired a forensic psychologist of their own who gave a much different testimony. Dr. Dawn Hughes reported that after her evaluation, she diagnosed Heard with PTSD (and only PTSD), saying she believed the actress experienced intimate partner violence from Depp.
What’s in a Name?
You know those people who say, “I’m just so bad with names?” Well, apparently one of Amber’s attorney’s, Elaine Bredehoft, is one of those people. During her direct examination with Dr. Hughes, she mistakenly referred to the expert as “Dr. Curry.” Twice!
While it was certainly a big whoopsie, I suppose it’s understandable given that both women are expert witnesses in the trial. But then Elaine did it again. With Amber. That’s right, when it was Heard’s turn to take the stand, Elaine mixed up her first and middle name, calling the actress “Laura Amber Heard.” Whoops!
Revolving Door of Famous “Friends”
During her testimony, Heard accused Depp of being a jealous partner, saying there was a “revolving door of accusations.” Depp accused Heard of cheating on him with a flight attendant, one of her female friends, and her co-stars James Franco and Eddie Redmayne. (Franco and Redmayne have not commented on the accusations.)
According to Heard, Depp’s jealousy also impacted her career—Depp didn’t want her to take any role with nudity, on-screen kissing, or sex scenes.
Speaking about the alleged physical abuse, Heard claimed that the first instance was in relation to one of Depp’s more famous tattoos. She asked him about his Wino Forever tattoo—you know, the one that used to read “Winona Forever”—and when she laughed, he allegedly slapped her.
Now, I have no idea what happened between them, but I find it a little hard to believe that Amber didn’t know that Johnny famously changed Winona to Wino after his (very public) breakup from actress Winona Ryder.
Kate Moss and Stairs
During his testimony, Johnny Depp claimed that Amber Heard was the perpetrator, not the victim, of domestic violence, alleging that she would frequently hit him. Heard, however, stated that she only struck him once. According to her, they were in the middle of a heated argument on the top level of their penthouse when her sister, Whitney, got in between them. Afraid that her sister would be pushed down the flight of stairs, Heard punched Depp in the face.
While telling this story on the stand, Heard stated that in that moment, the only thing she could think of was “Kate Moss and stairs” alluding to an rumor involving Johnny Depp and the supermodel, whom he dated in the 90s.
There are a few things in this case that both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard agree on. One of which is that Depp lost the tip of his finger in 2015 while the pair was in Australia. Their versions of what led to the severed finger, though, are very different.
Depp’s story is that Heard threw a liquor bottle at him during an argument and his finger was severed from the shattered glass. Heard, however, stated that Depp cut his own finger off. She described the incident, saying that Depp was the one throwing bottles of liquor that night. Over the course of their fight, he grabbed her by the neck, ripped off her nightgown, and dragged her across the broken glass.
Then, in a particularly horrifying allegation, she claimed that the actor used a liquor bottle to sexually assault her. Afterwards, she went upstairs, took two sleeping pills, and barricaded herself in the bedroom. When she woke up a few hours later, she found that Depp had cut his finger and written demeaning messages on the walls with his blood.
It’s worth noting that a brief audio clip was played for the court where Depp appears to say “I’m talking about Australia, the day I chopped my finger off.” An email from Depp to his doctor was also shown in court, in which he wrote, “I have chopped off my left middle finger as a reminder that I should never cut my finger off again!!” The audio clip is hard to decipher, though—Depp insists he said “I got my finger chopped off”—and other leaked audio clips seem to tell a different story.
During Depp’s rebuttal, former TMZ employee Morgan Tremaine was called to the stand. And boy, was TMZ upset about that. In fact, the day before, TMZ had filed an emergency motion to block him from testifying, citing the need to protect the privacy of their sources as the reason. Ultimately, their motion was denied.
Without actually naming her, Tremaine all but confirmed that the video of Depp slamming kitchen cabinets was leaked by Heard. TMZ was also alerted about the restraining order Heard filed in May 2016, along with the fact that she would be at the courthouse with a bruise on the right side of her face. Again, Tremaine never named his source, but the implication was pretty clear.
But perhaps the wildest part of Tremaine’s testimony came during his cross-examination. When attorney Elaine Bredehoft asked if he was seeking his “15 minutes of fame,” he replied that he wasn’t and, without missing a beat, stated, “I could say the same thing by taking Amber Heard as a client.”
Surprise Witness: Kate Moss
Along with Morgan Tremaine, several other surprise witnesses were called during rebuttal, including Kate Moss. Appearing via a video link, the supermodel testified that, despite what Amber Heard said previously, Johnny Depp never pushed, kicked, or threw her down any stairs over the course of their 4-year relationship. It seemed Depp’s team was unable to ask about anything other than that, so it was a rather short testimony, clocking in at about three minutes or so.
Yes, Marlon Brando Is Dead
As part of Heard’s defense, multiple expert witnesses were called, including psychiatrist David Spiegel. Dr. Spiegel testified that Depp displayed characteristics of substance abuse disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. He also gave an analysis of Depp’s cognitive status, saying he believed the actor had deficits in both processing speed and memory.
It’s important to note, however, that Dr. Spiegel did not actually personally evaluate Depp. Instead, he based his opinion on court testimony, various interviews given by Depp, and his movie performances. Specifically, he mentioned that Johnny Depp reportedly had all of his lines fed to him through an earpiece when filming the last Pirates movie.
But it was his cross-examination by attorney Wayne Dennison that really got people talking. After pushing back on the assertion that Depp was fed his lines through an earpiece (according to his sound engineer, it was actually music), Dennison asked, “Do you know whether Marlon Brando used an earpiece?” Dr. Spiegel then replied, “Isn’t he dead?” Johnny Depp’s reaction—the equivalent of a face-palm emoji—seemed to speak for all of us.
A Full Circle Moment
Closing arguments took place on May 27, 2022. A date that, as Mr. Depp’s attorney, Camille Vasquez, pointed out multiple times, was exactly six years after Amber Heard first made allegations of domestic violence. Six years to the day.
In an equally odd moment, multiple phones began going off in the courtroom as Ms. Heard’s attorney, Ben Rottenborn, was giving his closing argument. According to Judge Azcarate, it was an Amber Alert. An Amber Alert. You just can’t make this stuff up.
On Friday, May 27, the six-week trial came to a close, and the case was officially handed over to the jury. Depending on which side wins, the jury will determine what financial damages to award, but regardless, their decision must be unanimous.
After deliberating for two and a half days, the jury came back with their verdict on Wednesday, June 1. They found Heard to be guilty of defamation on all three statements published in the 2018 op-ed. Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages (which was reduced to $350,000 based on Virginia state laws). As for Heard’s counterclaim, they found Depp liable for one of the three statements made by his former attorney, Adam Waldman. They awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages and $0 in punitive damages.
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