"My goal is the truth."
Johnny Depp took the stand in his defamation trial against Amber Heard and denied abusing his ex-wife "or any woman." Although the actor testified in a similar trial in the U.K. in 2020, which he lost, this is the first time the public has seen him directly address the disturbing allegations as proceedings are livestreamed on Court TV. Depp spoke slowly, appeared somber, and said he has been waiting six years to respond to Heard's "diabolical" claims. During his three-hour testimony, which will resume on Wednesday, he said his substance abuse issues have been "grossly embellished" by Heard and apologized for those graphic text messages.
"About six years ago, Ms. Heard made some quite heinous and disturbing — brought these disturbing criminal acts — against me that were not based in any species of truth. It was a complete shock that it would — it just didn't need to go in that direction. Nothing of the kind had ever happened ... There were arguments and things of that nature, but never did I, myself, reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way nor have I ever struck any woman in my life," Depp began when asked why he's in court today.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million for describing herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse" in a 2018 op-ed for the Washington Post. The Aquaman star is countersuing him for $100 million. The actress filed for divorce in May 2016 and obtained a domestic violence restraining order against the actor.
On Tuesday, Depp recalled Heard's "accusations" permeating through the entertainment industry.
"[Abuse allegations] then made its way through media, social media, became quite a global let's say 'fact,' if you will, and since I knew that there was no truth to it whatsoever, I felt it my responsibility to stand up, not only for myself in that instance, but stand up for my children," he declared.
Depp said his two children, Lily-Rose and Jack, were ages 16 and 14 at the time respectively when Heard brought allegations against their father.
"I thought it was diabolical that my children would have to go to school and have their friends or people in the school approach them with the infamous People magazine cover with Ms. Heard with a dark bruise on her face, and then it just kept multiplying," Depp continued. "It just kept getting bigger and bigger so it was my responsibility, I felt, not only to attempt to clear my name for the sake of many reasons, but I wanted to clear my children of this horrid thing that they were having to read about their father which was untrue."
Depp added, "My goal is the truth."
"I had to wait for my opportunity to address the charges, which were criminal charges, and they just weren't true. So I felt the responsibility of clearing the record the only way that I could get to the point where I could speak," he explained, calling the last six years "trying times."
Depp said he went from "Cinderella" to "Quasimodo" overnight.
"I didn't deserve that, nor did my children," he continued. "I didn't want any of those people to believe that I had done them wrong, or lied to them, or that I was a fraud. I pride myself on honesty, I pride myself on truth — truth is the only thing I'm interested in," he added. "Today is my first opportunity to speak about this case in full for the first time."
After his opening statement, Depp started talking about childhood abuse he and his siblings suffered at the hands of their mother. His sister, Christi Dembrowski, previously testified about the physical and emotional abuse they suffered, and how Depp vowed never to repeat the violence.
"She had the ability to be as cruel as anybody could be," Depp said of his mother, who passed away in 2016. They reconciled before her death. The actor said his mother would fling an ashtray at him, "beat" him "with a high heel shoe, a telephone, whatever's handy."
The actor started to talk about his relationship with Heard, whom he first met when she was auditioning for The Rum Diary in 2010.
"It was as if she was too good to be true. She was attentive, she was loving, she was smart, she was kind, she was funny... we had many things in common," Depp recalled. He said he saw signs of trouble about a year into their relationship in 2013.
Depp gave one example, explaining how it was routine that Heard would take his boots off when he got home at the end of the day. One time, he took them off himself and she was "visibly shaken" and "upset that I had broken her rules of routine."
"I thought that strange," he recalled.
But Depp's legal team didn't want to dive into their volatile relationship just yet. He was then asked to address some of the explicit text messages that have been read in court, many of which call Heard a "c***." In one exchange, he said he hoped the actress's "rotting corpse is decomposing in the f****** trunk of a Honda Civic."
"I apologize," Depp declared. "I am ashamed by some of the references made. I'm embarrassed that, at the time, the heat of the moment, the heat of the pain that I was feeling went to dark places."
The actor admitted he has "dark humor."
"Words are used for emphasis and words are used to express what you're feeling at the time. It's just like growing up, you learn from those mistakes... you move forward," he said.
"I tend to be quite expressive in my writing and after the unfortunate words of Ms. Heard made their way into my heart and my head. Those are two very opposing things, so you're trying to find the best way to express something to a friend, sometimes you're exaggerating something that you've done just to make him understand that I'm on Planet Question Mark here. I don't know what's going on, but I know I'm in this situation and I know that it cannot continue," Depp said.
The line of questioning then moved to Depp's substance abuse issues, which he said began at age 11 when he took some of his mother's prescription pills. By the time he was 15, he had done all of the drugs he knew about. But Depp said "there were many years I didn't touch substances" or alcohol. The actor testified that he never took drugs to "party."
"It's been for trying to numb the things inside that can plague someone who's experienced trauma. The characterization of my 'substance abuse' that's been delivered by Ms. Heard is grossly embellished and I'm sorry to say... I think it was an easy target for her to hit, because once you've trusted somebody for a certain amount of years, and you've told them all the secrets of your life, then that information can be used against you," Depp continued. "I am not some maniac who needs to be high or loaded all the time."
The actor maintained "there's been no abuse of substances on film sets" and he's "never" been considered "out of control."
When asked if he's ever been addicted to a substance, Depp said "yes" and talked about his dependency on oxycodone. The actor got hooked on the prescription pill after injuring himself shooting the fourth Pirates film in 2010.
"It's not like you take those pills to get high, you take them to — once the addiction has grabbed hold of you — you're not taking those pills to get high, you're taking those pills to get well, or to get better, because if you're without the pill, your body will start to go into various withdrawals," he explained. Depp successfully detoxed from the pills during his relationship with Heard and told the jury he hasn't touched them since.
Depp seemed struck with emotion when asked how his relationship began with Heard. He remembered a day on the set of The Rum Diary when they kissed for the first time, which was in the script.
"I think there was something in the kiss," he shared. "That was very real."
Both stars were in romantic relationships at the time. Depp was with Paradis and Heard was married to Tasya van Ree. But according to Depp, they shared one other kiss off-camera.
"So that day after work, Ms. Heard had come to my trailer and I was just sitting there listening to old blues [music] and we had a glass of wine and we kissed," Depp said. He said Heard "had a mind to stay in that trailer for a while," which he knew was not a good idea "on any level." Depp said "nothing happened" between them until the first day of the press junket two years later when they were both single.
When Depp was asked what he liked about Heard, he replied softly, "She seemed to be the perfect partner."
"She seemed to be very knowledgeable about old obscure blues music I listened to and really liked. She was literate, she was sweet, funny, nice all those things," he recalled. Things changed about a "year, year and a half" into their relationship.
"And then things just started to change, or things just started to reveal themselves I think is a better way to put it," he said. Aside from the boots incident, Depp saw a red flag in how Heard found it "not acceptable" if he went to bed later than her. The actor found it odd that as a "fifty-something" man he couldn't choose his own bedtime.
"It would steer up some rather unusual reactions from her," he explained. "It started out with little things like that."
Depp's testimony concluded for the day and will resume on Wednesday morning. He was the third witness called on Tuesday. Earlier, the defense called Keenan Wyatt, a sound technician who worked with Depp from the '90s to 2016. They also became close friends.
"I've never seen him be violent towards anybody," Wyatt told the court. He went on family trips with the actor and his former partner, Vanessa Paradis, with whom he shares his two children. In his observation, Depp was nothing but "a very loving father."
Wyatt also spent time with Depp and Heard during their tumultuous relationship, and testified that he never heard Depp yell at or abuse the actress — including on that infamous May 2014 flight from Boston to Los Angeles.
Heard maintains that one of the 14 instances of abuse sustained during her relationship with Depp occurred on a private plane. She alleges that Depp flew into a drunken rage on the flight over suspicions she was sleeping with James Franco. The actress claims she was kicked and slapped by Depp, who yelled obscenities about how she was "getting f***** on set" by Franco filming The Adderall Diaries.
Wyatt testified Heard "was giving Johnny the cold shoulder, being quiet and seemed pouty." He stated that at one point on the flight, the actress actually yelled at him.
"All of a sudden she snapped and started yelling at me," Wyatt said, "so I went back to my seat and minded my own business... she was abruptly loud."
Wyatt said he saw Depp and Heard "very clearly" and that he witnessed no physical altercation. He admitted Depp consumed alcohol on the plane, but that the actor wasn't overly intoxicated as he "seemed like Johnny, seemed normal." He testified he never saw any marks or bruises on Heard.
"I have never seen Johnny abuse anyone, ever," he added.
During cross-examination, Wyatt admitted he actually had heard of Depp being violent towards someone in 2017. Crew member Greg Brooks, who was working on Depp's film City of Lies, sued the actor for assault claiming Depp "angrily and forcefully punched [Brooks] twice in the lower left side of his rib cage."
Sean Bett, a member of Depp's security team, also concluded his testimony on Tuesday morning. He told the court he never witnessed anything that made him concerned for Heard's safety but was concerned for Depp's well-being as he once took photos of the actor's injured face after an alleged fight.
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