In the midst of insults and accusations, lawyers of Johnny Depp maintain that Amber Heard faked domestic violence charges against her ex-husband in order to further her acting career. When Heard filed for divorce in 2016, claiming Depp of abusing her during their marriage, the debate between the Fantastic Beasts star and the Aquaman lead erupted. While J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, defended Depp’s casting in the Fantastic Beasts film and sequel around the time of the divorce, other creatives and fans online were not so eager to back up the actor. Heard had more to say even after a pricey settlement full of clauses meant to protect both individuals’ integrity post-breakup.
Her 2018 Washington Post op-ed — while not calling Depp out by name — branded her as a new face in the movement against domestic violence and further discredited Depp in the public eye. Hollywood effectively barred Depp from new high-profile roles, and the larger-than-life performer succumbed to starring in a few international and independent projects like Minamata. Warner Bros. even asked him to resign from his role as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, and he was later replaced by Mads Mikkelsen. Depp sued Heard for defamation in 2019 in response to the WaPo article, and that trial is now officially underway.
Now already it had marked day one of a defamation trial expected to last six weeks, and vicious accusations are already coming out. It is reported that Depp’s attorneys, Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez, argue that the timing of the WaPo op-ed after the peak of the #MeToo movement and before the release of Aquaman (in which Heard played Mera) indicates that Heard falsified the abuse allegations to advance her career. Chew called the actress manipulative, claiming to have evidence that shows how the defamation affected Depp’s ability to land roles.
Heard opened up about the ongoing controversy and trial just a couple of days ago on Instagram, reiterating that she never named her ex-husband in the article and wanted to stand up for women everywhere affected by domestic violence. Deadline has more information from her side of the case, stating that attorneys Ben Rottenborn and Elaine Bredehoft call Depp an “obsessed ex-husband hellbent on revenge” and echo Heard’s assertion that Depp turned into a “monster” when he was drinking. They also disclose their possession of photo and video evidence that showcases Depp’s abuse and dishonesty about particular altercations.
Whoever ends up winning the trial, the first day is a clear sign that neither side is likely to budge from their position in accusing the other of lying and manipulating events. Both claim that physical signs of abuse over the years have been self-inflicted; to make things more complicated, a recording paints Heard as the abuser after proclaiming that she hit Depp, which threw a wrench into public opinion about the case. It has caused some fans to petition for Depp’s return as Jack Sparrow in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a move that Heard’s lawyers could use to challenge the notion that the op-ed has cost him acting opportunities. On the other hand, proving that Heard used the drama to improve her acting career could be a loftier goal than Johnny Depp expects. The deciding factors of this trial could ultimately be the tangible evidence that both actors’ legal counsels claim to have, which they will reveal as the case progresses.