According to Johnny Depp, the secret to good acting is not to act, but rather to react. Nobody could say he hasn’t reacted to his ex-wife Amber Heard for portraying herself as a victim of domestic violence.
In a defamation legal action revealed a few days ago, he is demanding $50 million damages for a newspaper article she wrote on the issue, claiming it cost him his lucrative role in the Pirates Of The Caribbean films.
The actor, who played Captain Jack Sparrow, fired a broadside of allegations at his ex-wife, as I found when I read through the 40-page complaint filed in a Virginia court.
Actor Johnny Depp with ex-wife actress Amber Heard, pictured at a Hollywood premiere of '3 Days to Kill', are embroiled in a new court case as questions are raised over Heard's facial injuries she claimed Depp inflicted
It’s Depp’s bid not only to clear his name as an alleged wife beater, but also to paint his accuser as unfaithful and the real ‘predator’ in their unhappy marriage.
Citing new evidence from witnesses, the lawsuit claims Heard, star of the superhero film Aquaman, concocted with friends a false story about Depp’s violence towards her in order to advance her career and fame.
Not only were her allegations an ‘elaborate hoax’, it is claimed, but she cynically timed her latest attack to coincide with the release of the film which gave Heard her first starring role in big-budget feature.
Evidence submitted to Los Angeles Superior County Court by actress Amber Heard showing her bruised face. Actor Johnny Depp was issued with a restraining order after his estranged wife claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse
Depp, pictured attending the premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, is suing Amber Heard $50 million for portraying herself as a victim of domestic violence in a newspaper article that accused him of hurting her
Depp, 55, also claims she was cheating on him with billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk pretty much throughout their marriage.
Depp adds that 32-year-old Heard was the violent one in their relationship, claiming he needed to have a finger surgically reattached after she hurled a vodka bottle at him.
Heard didn’t mention Depp in a December piece for the Washington Post, titled ‘I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath’. However, she wrote: ‘Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse’, and the article was widely assumed to have been about him and the accusations she levelled against him during their acrimonious break-up in 2016.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star claims Heard cynically timed her allegations to coincide with the release of her new movie Aquaman
Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, says the article was an ‘abuse of the #MeToo movement’ as Heard ‘masquerades as victim’ when she was actually the ‘abuser’.
The lawsuit cites testimony from staff at Eastern Columbia, a Los Angeles building where Depp and Heard shared a penthouse home, who ‘unanimously debunked’ her main allegation against the star.
Mr Waldman says he and his client looked forward to presenting ‘overwhelming video, photographic and eyewitness evidence’ to clear Depp’s name — a name now tainted in Hollywood’s #MeToo era.
But to understand the true nature of the case — and the vitriol involved — we have to examine this high-stakes battle between Depp and Heard chapter by chapter…
THE £5.3m DIVORCE DEAL
A divorce settlement had been reached early in 2017 which gave Heard £5.3 million (which she promised to give to charity), although there were conditions attached. The actress withdrew her accusations that he physically abused her.
Her claims had included that he dragged her by her hair and tried to smother her with a pillow. Bisexual Heard, who met Depp when appearing in his 2011 film The Rum Diary, also agreed not to talk further about their split.
Depp retracted his allegations that she was a gold digger. And they both admitted their marriage was ‘volatile’ but there was ‘never intent of physical or emotional harm’.
Depp and Heard first met while filming the Rum Diary, an adaptation of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. They began living together the following year, and eventually married in a private ceremony
The pair famously appeared in a bizarre videotaped apology after smuggling his dogs Pistol and Boo into Australia illegally on a private jet. They made the tape during a hearing at Southport Magistrates Court, Gold Coast, Australia
However, their uneasy truce hardly ended hostilities. Sources say Heard is keen to appear in London’s High Court to defend a British newspaper Depp is suing for calling him a wife-beater.
Since their divorce, the pair have sniped like duelling wizards in the Fantastic Beasts films — over which creator J. K. Rowling had to publicly defend Depp’s casting as evil sorcerer Grindelwald, saying she was ‘genuinely happy’ to have him cast, based on her understanding of the ‘circumstances’ of his divorce.
However, Depp gave his critics ample ammunition by giving a disastrous interview in which he was portrayed as a self-pitying wreck who drinks vodka for breakfast and smokes endless cannabis joints.
'It’s insulting to say that I spent $30,000 on wine. It’s more'. Last year Depp told Rolling Stone that he was close to financial ruin, despite making as much as $650 million throughout his career
Details of the extravagance of the cash-strapped star, who is said to have earned £489 million, further soured the mood against him.
Whether ridding himself of his ‘wife-beater’ label will solve all his problems is debatable, but he clearly feels it cannot be allowed to stand.
Depp’s lawyers say they have provided supporting visual evidence in the form of 87 clips of footage from security cameras. It’s understood his team has 17 eyewitnesses waiting in the wings.
DAY DEPP WAS ‘LURED’ TO PENTHOUSE
The central accusation made by Heard — supported with a photo of her bruised cheek and eye — was that Depp unleashed a storm of violence on May 21, 2016.
According to Depp’s court claim, the incident was essentially a set-up in which Heard ‘lured’ him to their penthouse to pick up some of his belongings after he told her he wanted to split up. A female friend was also there, talking to another of Heard’s social circle on the phone.
Heard’s version of events is that Depp grabbed a mobile phone, ‘wound up his arm like a baseball pitcher’ and threw it at her, hitting her in the face ‘with great force’. She said he then battered her face and used a magnum of champagne as a weapon to destroy the flat.
The Eastern Columbia Building in downtown Los Angeles where Johnny Depp is reported to have paid $2 million for a penthouse apartment
Her two friends — including the one who was not in the penthouse but heard everything on the phone — supported her. Police were called to the penthouse that night and, as they’ve testified, saw no evidence of injury on her face or damage to the flat, the lawsuit notes. However, when Heard appeared in court six days later sporting a battered face, a judge granted her a temporary restraining order against Depp.
Depp left LA for many weeks for work almost immediately after the alleged incident, his lawsuit notes.
THE SUSPICIOUS CONCIERGE
While Depp was away, building staff — just like the police officers — noticed no sign of injury to Heard’s face in the few days in between the phone-hurling and her court appearance, according to the lawsuit. Cornelius Harrell, a concierge, was working on the front desk on the afternoon after the alleged assault. Depp’s lawyers say he was captured by the building’s security cameras taking Heard to the post room to collect a package sent to her.
He testified under oath that she ‘did not have any bruises, cuts, scratches or swelling on her face’ and that — in his words — he was struck by how ‘beautiful’, ‘radiant’ and ‘refreshed’ she looked.
Alejandro Romero, the building’s security officer, testified that, either on the Monday or Tuesday after the alleged attack, Heard asked him to accompany her to the penthouse as she feared there had been an attempted break-in.
Cornelius Harrell, a concierge at Depp's apartment block, testified to seeing that Heard ‘did not have any bruises, cuts, scratches or swelling on her face’ in the days in between the phone-hurling and her court appearance
He agreed and ‘throughout this interaction, Mr Romero said he got “a full shot” of [her] face’ and saw no signs of injury either, says the lawsuit. Mr Romero testified that he ‘couldn’t believe’ her domestic abuse allegations, say Depp’s lawyers.
‘We watched the news and we saw the pictures . . . and the next day I saw her, I was like, “Come on, really?”,’ Mr Romero said in his deposition. The photos he saw showed Heard with a ‘big mark on her — on her eyes and her cheek’, but he hadn’t seen anything like it in the flesh, he said.
Another colleague, concierge Trinity Esparza, was also suspicious, says the complaint. She said she saw Heard throughout the week after the alleged Depp assault and the actress — who wore no make-up — showed neither bruises nor cuts. Then, on Friday, May 27 — the day Heard went to court — she ‘had a red cut underneath her right eye and red marks by her eye’.
When she learned Heard had been granted a restraining order, Ms Esparza reviewed security camera video in the building to see if she had missed the injuries on her face earlier in the week. She hadn’t, says the legal complaint.
Instead, it adds, she spotted video of Heard in the lobby with her sister, Whitney, and a friend three nights after the alleged attack. The concierge ‘testified that she saw Whitney pretend to punch her sister in the face’ before all three of them laughed.
Brandon Patterson, the general manager, testified he watched the same video and Heard’s face showed no sign of marks.
Isaac Baruch, a friend and building neighbour of the celebrity couple, is also cited in the lawsuit. He says on the morning after the alleged attack, Heard complained to him Depp had hit her. While she ‘stretched her neck’ to show him her alleged injuries, he said he couldn’t see anything, and continued to see her during the week with no signs of damage to her face.
Mr Baruch said he confronted Heard days later ‘about how upset he was at her false abuse allegations’, according to the lawsuit. ‘Amber then told me she did not want anything from Johnny and it was her lawyers who were doing all of this,’ he testified.
HEARD’S CLAIM OF HARASSMENT
Heard’s lawyers have rejected Depp’s claims in the lawsuit. ‘This frivolous action is just the latest of Johnny Depp’s repeated eff-orts to silence Amber Heard. She will not be silenced,’ said her lawyer Eric George. ‘Mr Depp’s actions prove he is unable to accept the truth of his ongoing abusive behaviour.
‘While he appears hell-bent on achieving self destruction, we will prevail in defeating this groundless lawsuit and ending the continued vile harassment of my client by Mr Depp and his legal team.
THE VODKA BOTTLE ATTACK
In referring to Heard as the real ‘abuser’ in the marriage, Depp’s lawsuit points to an incident nearly ten years ago when police arrested the actress at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for physically assaulting her girlfriend Tasya van Ree.
Amber Heard (right) with her ex-girlfriend Tasya van Ree (left) in New York City, who it is claimed she assaulted in a Seattle airport before her relationship with Depp
She spent a night behind bars but prosecutors decided against pressing charges. Ms Van Ree has since defended Heard, saying the incident was ‘misinterpreted’.
Depp’s lawsuit also describes a ‘particularly gruesome episode’ when Heard ‘shattered the bones in the tip of Mr Depp’s right middle finger, almost completely cutting it off’ when she threw a glass vodka bottle at him in Australia.
‘The bottle shattered as it came into contact with Mr Depp’s hand, and the broken glass and impact severed and shattered Mr Depp’s finger,’ says the lawsuit.
It was ‘one of many projectiles she launched at him in this and other instances’. He also alleges she ‘kicked and punched him with regularity’, and punched him in the face when he turned up late for her 30th birthday party in 2016.
THE ‘UNFAITHFUL’ SCENT OF MUSK
Turning to Elon Musk, the lawsuit says the SpaceX and Tesla entrepreneur was making ‘night-time’ visits to the Depp penthouse around the time Heard ‘presented her battered face to the public’.
The information comes from the same building staff who said they saw no sign of her injuries. They told the Depp camp that Heard was secretly ‘spending time’ with Musk (who in 2016 divorced British actress Talulah Riley) within a month of her marrying Depp.
Depp claims that Amber Heard (left) was 'having an affair throughout' the couple's marriage with SpaceX and Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk (right) according to building staff at Depp's apartment
Heard asked the staff to allow Musk to use the building’s garage and the penthouse lift ‘late at night’, says the lawsuit. The court papers claim Musk started appearing at the penthouse shortly after she learned Depp wanted her to sign a post-nuptial agreement.
Musk — who had a short-lived romance with Heard — has insisted their relationship only started after her marriage ended. His spokesman said: ‘Elon and Amber didn’t start seeing each other until May 2016. Even then it was infrequent. Their relationship didn’t become romantic until some time later.’
AXED AS JACK SPARROW
According to Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, Heard’s allegation about the phone throwing was a ‘poorly executed hoax’ designed to ‘generate positive publicity for herself’ — and it worked, he says.
She became a ‘darling of the #MeToo movement’, appointed a ‘human rights champion’ for the United Nations, ambassador for women’s rights at the American Civil Liberties Union and a global spokesman for L’Oreal Paris.
She ‘revived’ her allegations in the Washington Post to coincide with the release of Aquaman — her first starring role in a big-budget film — which came out in U.S. cinemas days later.
Depp is also claiming he has lost out on one of his iconic film roles as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise because of Heard's accusations. Disney insiders have said however that the character, featuring in five films, may have been cut several months earlier
While her career has soared since the scandal, Depp’s reputation and film career have ‘sustained immense damage’, says the lawsuit. He has ‘lost roles in movies’ and when he was cast in them, ‘there were public outcries for the film makers to recast their roles’.
The reaction to her article was ‘swift and severe’, it adds, as days later Disney officially announced he would no longer play Captain Jack Sparrow — ‘one of his most iconic roles’.
In fact, Disney insiders had admitted Depp’s character might be forced to walk the plank several months earlier. Although he had starred in five Pirates films over 14 years that earned more than $4.5 billion, the company saved a reported $90 million by cutting him out of the sixth instalment.
Yet for all his money problems, it seems Depp may be less worried about multi-million dollar compensation and more concerned about rescuing his tarnished reputation. Hollywood still forgives all manner of drugs-and-drink debauchery and financial foolishness — but woe betide a male star who falls foul of the #MeToo movement.