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Johnny Depp tells court he has to defend himself against Amber Heard’s ‘heinous’ abuse claims

Johnny Depp tells court he has to defend himself
Johnny Depp tells court he has to defend himself (image credit: Jim Watson/Pool via REUTERS

Johnny Depp began his testimony by admitting he and Amber Heard argued during their relationship but said he “never” reached the point of hitting her – and “nor have I ever struck any woman in my life”. He told the court he wanted to clear his name for his children.

Johnny Depp has told a court his ex-wife Amber Heard‘s allegations of domestic violence and sexual abuse are “heinous and disturbing” – and that he is “obsessed” with getting to the truth.

Giving testimony for the first time on the fifth day of the libel trial, Depp began by admitting he and Heard argued during their relationship but said he “never” reached the point of hitting her – and “nor have I ever struck any woman in my life”.

He told the jury in Fairfax, Virginia, that his ex-wife’s allegations had come as a “complete shock” when he first heard them, and that they had “permeated” the entertainment industry and become “a global, let’s say ‘fact’, if you will”.

The actor said he felt he had to stand up for himself and his two children, Lily-Rose and Jack, whose mother is his former partner Vanessa Paradis. They were teenagers when Heard’s claims were first made public and it is “diabolical” they were exposed to the allegations while still at school, Depp said.

“I felt it was my responsibility to clear my name and my children of this horrid thing that they were having to read about their father,” he said. “My goal is the truth because it killed me that people I’d met over the years… would think that I was a fraud and had lied to them”.

He went on to reference his current standing in Hollywood compared with his lucrative career before the allegations were made.

“It’s very strange when you’re Cinderella, so to speak, and then in 0.6 seconds you’re Quasimodo,” he said. “I didn’t deserve that. I pride myself on honesty and truth. Truth is the only thing I’m interested in, lies will get you nowhere. I’m obsessed with the truth.”

Key points from Depp’s testimony – Day 5 of the trial

• Depp admitted arguments with Heard but denied ever hitting her – and said allegations of abuse are “heinous”
• The actor said he knew the case would be embarrassing but he knows he is “doing the right thing”
• He apologized for vulgar text messages sent about his ex-wife but said he uses humor to deal with pain
• Depp also admitted using drugs but said claims of “substance abuse” have been “grossly embellished”
• He also admitted he “felt something I shouldn’t have been feeling” when he first kissed Heard while filming, as he was still in a relationship with Paradis at the time
• Catch up on what has been said so far in our live reporting of the trial as it happens

The libel trial began more than a week ago, but, prior to his testimony, jurors – and viewers at home, as this is on camera – had only seen Depp sitting silently with his team of lawyers as revelations about his former relationship have come out in court.

As Heard’s lawyers predicted at the start of the trial, it has turned into something of a “soap opera”, with claims of drink and drugs binges, trashed rooms, and the actor severing his finger being raised in front of the jury.

‘I know I’m doing the right thing’

Wearing a dark suit and pale paisley tie, with his hair in a ponytail, Depp told the court on Tuesday that he knew the case would be “exposing” for both him and Heard, but that he had no choice but to defend himself against her allegations.

“It never had to go in this direction,” he said. “I can’t say I’m embarrassed because I know I’m doing the right thing.”

Depp is suing Heard for libel for $50m (£38.2m), while Heard has issued a counterclaim for $100m (£76.4m). The case has been brought over a 2018 article she wrote in The Washington Post, which his lawyers say falsely implies he physically and sexually abused her.

The column did not mention Depp by name, but was titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath.” The actor’s lawyers have told the court it is clear Heard was referencing her ex-husband.

Depp addresses text messages and drug use

During his testimony, Depp told the court about his relationship with Heard, saying he initially thought it was “too good to be true” but did notice things that “might be a bit of a dilemma at some point”.

The actor was also asked about text messages he has sent that have been revealed in court so far, in which he used vulgar language about Heard, as well as his drinking and substance use.

Addressing his texts, he offered an apology to those who have read them, saying he is “embarrassed and ashamed” but that he has a dark sense of humor and “sometimes pain has to be dealt with humor”.

On his drug use, he said it had been a way to “numb the ghosts” of his youth and was “self-medication” rather than what he often observed in others of wanting “to go party”.

However, he told the court that details of his “substance abuse” had been “grossly embellished” in court and a lot was “plainly false… an easy target for [Heard]”. He continued: “I am not some maniac who needs to be high or loaded all the time.”

The actor told the court his drug-taking had started at the age of 11 when he took his mother’s nerve pills “to escape feeling so much”.

“[It’s] a pretty young age to do that, I can’t say that I’m proud of admitting to that but I have to say that I knew not what else to do,” he said.

Depp and Heard’s first kiss

Speaking about first meeting Heard, he told the court how they worked on the film The Rum Diary together and described filming a scene in which their characters kissed – saying he “felt something I shouldn’t have been feeling”.

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