Depp sued the newspaper’s publisher after a 2018 headline labelled him a “wife beater”, in reference to his relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard. The court found the claim to be “substantially true”.
At a preliminary hearing ahead of the trial in February 2020, texts exchanged between Depp and Bettany in 2013 were read aloud.
In one text, Depp wrote, “Let’s burn Amber!!!” to which Bettany responded: “Having thought it through I don’t think we should burn Amber – she’s delightful company and easy on the eye, plus I’m not sure she’s a witch. We could of course try the English course of action in these predicaments – we do a drowning test. Thoughts?”
Depp responded: “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will f*** her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”
Speaking to The Independent, Bettany said that the topic was “a really difficult subject to talk about” and that he believed addressing it would “just pour fuel on the fire”.
The WandaVision star, however, continued to call the experience of having his private text messages made public “very strange”.
“It was a strange moment,” he said. “What was strange about it was you suddenly have one of the most scabrous newspapers in London and their lawyers pouring through your texts for the last 10 years.
“Can you imagine what it would be like, honestly, to have a bunch of lawyers go through every one of your emails and texts for 10 years? All I can tell you is that it was an unpleasant feeling.”
Bettany has previously defended Depp against the allegations. In a 2016 Twitter post, the 50-year-old wrote: “Known Johnny Depp for years and through several relationships. He’s the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man that I’ve ever known. Just saying.”
Bettany and Depp starred together in 2014’s sci-fi thriller Transcendence as well as the action-comedy Mortdecai, which was released in 2015.
Elsewhere in the interview, Bettany discussed self-doubt, experiencing a period of homelessness, and his own personal scandals.
He will next star opposite Claire Foy in the BBC’s A Very British Scandal, which airs on BBC One at 9pm on Boxing Day.