When reality surpasses fiction. The high-profile trial, broadcast live on television, between 36-year-old actress Amber Heard and actor Johnny Depp, 58, kept the public in suspense during the six weeks of proceedings in the Fairfax court , near Washington (USA). Each then accused each other of defamation and of wanting to ruin the career of the other.
After having deliberated for a long time, the jurors, five men and two women, concluded on Wednesday June 1 that Amber Heard had defamed her ex-husband and condemned her to pay Johnny Depp 15 million dollars in damages. They also found that the actor had made defamatory remarks towards his former partner and condemned him to pay two million dollars in compensation to his ex-wife. Between severed finger, unconditional fans and stars at the helm, franceinfo looks back on the highlights of this trial.
Intimacy unveiled as proof
In this trial, the public was treated to a great unpacking of the couple’s private life, from their honeymoon to the violent arguments on the background of alcohol and drugs. The mutual accusations demonstrated a toxic relationship between the two actors who produced audio and video recordings, text messages and photos they said showed their bruised faces after arguments.
In a video, shot on the sly by Amber Heard, Johnny Depp angrily bangs the glass door of a kitchen cupboard and pours himself a tall glass of wine. The actress also photographed her companion in humiliating positions when he was, according to her, knocked out by drugs and alcohol.
Crude-language text messages sent by Johnny Depp to Amber Heard show, according to the actress’ lawyers, that the actor was prone to violence. But for Johnny Depp’s lawyers, he has an inventive way of writing, similar to the style of journalist Hunter S. Thompson, whom he admired.
Cut finger, blood on the walls and fecal matter on the bed
The rawest details of the case were discussed without any restraint. Johnny Depp thus described his heavy consumption of alcohol and drugs, admitting to addiction problems since the age of 11. Amber Heard, she said she suffered “physical violence and assault” since their first meeting in 2009 and during their tumultuous marriage which lasted only two years, from 2015 to 2017.
She also recounted, for the first time, an argument followed by rape with a bottle, in March 2015, during the couple’s stay in Australia, where Johnny Depp was filming the fifth episode of the saga. Pirates of the Caribbean. Dispute during which her ex-husband had the end of his right middle finger severed and was hospitalized.
Johnny Depp claims that it was the splinter of a vodka bottle thrown by Amber Heard, which broke near his hand, which injured him. Amber Heard says he hurt himself. He then used his blood to inscribe insulting messages on the walls, mirrors and lampshades of their rental house.
The actor also accused his estranged wife of defecating in the marital bed after an argument on the actress’s 30th birthday in April 2016, charges which she disputed, saying he acted there “delusional thoughts” and that the feces belonged to Johnny Depp’s dog, a Yorkshire terrier.
A parade of witnesses, famous or anonymous
The two actors were not the only stars to be heard during this trial. The iconic British supermodel of the 1990s, Kate Moss, was invited by the court to speak by videoconference on May 25. In a relationship with Johnny Depp in the 1990s, she swept away the rumors that the latter would have pushed her down a staircase during their relationship, a rumor mentioned by Amber Heard during her deposition on May 5.
As for the American actress Ellen Barkin, another former companion of Johnny Depp at the end of the 1990s, invited to the bar, she affirmed that he was jealous, possessive and “drunk almost all the time”. He also, according to her, threw a bottle of wine in her direction, without aiming at her, during a fit of anger.
On the side of Amber Heard, the billionaire Elon Musk, her ex-boyfriend, and the actor James Franco, with whom she shot, had been cited as witnesses but were not ultimately called to the bar. If Elon Musk remained discreet throughout the trial, he posted this comment on Twitter before the jury deliberated: “They are both amazing.”
I hope they both move on. At their best, they are each incredible.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 28, 2022
The jury also heard from relatives of the two actors, security guards, artistic agents, financial advisers and experts, psychiatrists, doctors, as well as the doorman of the luxurious building where the couple lived in Los Angeles, Alejandro Romero. The latter probably summed up the sentiment of many witnesses by stating: “I’m too stressed, I don’t want to have to meddle in this anymore.”
A lawsuit already decided on social networks
Both on Twitter and on TikTok, Internet users have mainly taken the side of Johnny Depp, creating memes and video montages from the trial footage to deride Amber Heard. On these two social networks, the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp (Justice for Johnny Depp) far exceeded the #IStandWithAmberHeard (I support Amber Heard) : 15.3 billion views against 8.4 million on May 24.
Shortly after Wednesday’s verdict, Johnny Depp said to himself “upset by the outpouring of love” testified by his fans, who cheered him by the hundreds, every day, in court. Some went as far as sleeping in front of the building to access the courtroom.
Amber Heard, she claims to have received “thousands” messages of death threats, during these six weeks of trial. Mugs “Fuck Amber Heard” have been for sale. The Social media attacks on the actress are nothing new. Already in 2016, Amber Heard was treated there as “liar”of “manipulative” or of “Devil”as she filed for divorce.
It is also on the networks that the two actors reacted to the announcement of the verdict. “I am heartbroken that the mountain of evidence was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband”wrote Amber Heard on her Twitter account. A post that has won more than 125,000 likes, as of June 2.
— Amber Heard (@realamberheard) June 1, 2022
Johnny Depp’s post on his Instagram account has garnered over 14 million likes. “Really touched”the actor, who was absent during the delivery of the verdict, believed that the jury had him “brought back to life”, “after six years”.
Careers at stake
The two actors claim to have lost a lot in this affair, each ensuring that his career in Hollywood has been ruined. Johnny Depp’s lawyers estimate their client lost nearly $50 million in fees after being “erased from Hollywood” because of the accusations of his ex-wife. The actor was not selected to play in the sixth opus of Pirates of the Caribbean.
But for his former agent, Tracey Jacobs, no official agreement had been reached for him to return to his role. According to her, the“star” of the actor had etiolated since 2010, due to drugs and alcohol, and “his unprofessional attitude” on film sets.
Amber Heard’s lawyers have estimated that their client lost between 40 and 50 million dollars in fees and promotional campaigns. The actress assures that, despite the global success ofAquaman, she had to fight to find her role in the second opus, accusing Johnny Depp of having contrived to oust her from the production. A role that the 4.5 million people who signed a petition, on the Change.org site, for it to be edited out in Aquaman 2.