3rd UPDATE, 2:26 PM PT: It was obvious that things were going to get rough once Johnny Depp’s lawyers started to cross examine Amber Heard in the actor’s $50 million defamation trial against his former spouse and Rum Diary co-star. However, few probably could have predicted it would become such a fierce fray so quickly as it did this afternoon.
“You testified that you were raped with a liquor bottle” in Australia during the 2015 making of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales plaintiff’s attorney Camille Vasquez asked a clearly ruffled Heard at one point this afternoon in the lawyer’s take no prisoners approach. “You bled from your vagina,” the poised lawyer added quoting Heard’s early testimony of sexual assault back to her and asking if she sought medical attention “for the rape” or took any photos.
More from Deadline
“I did not want to tell anyone,” a seemingly dissembling Heard replied. “I hated it, I hated it,” the actress later said in her cross examination of the state of her relationship with Depp and the various photos she took of him unconscious, either asleep or “on the nod.”
The first stage of the cross examination Monday also solved one of the mysteries of the trial so far.
Immediately after stepping to the podium to begin cross examination on Monday, Vasquez stated to Heard that the sunglass-wearing Depp has not looked at her during the trial that started on April 11. “Not that I’ve noticed,” Heard wearily responded as Vasquez said that Depp absurdly “promised you you would never see his eyes again.”
To that end, the jury was played a late 2016 audio tape of the couple meeting up in San Francisco after they had separated and a restraining order was issued. On that tape, Depp can clearly be heard grumbling his soon-to-be ex-wife will never see his eyes again. On that recording, Depp adds “after all the shit you said – you will always be nothing to me.”
Delayed Monday by a long conference with all the primary attorneys before Judge Penny Azcarte on the return from the afternoon break in the Fairfax County Courthouse, the scene saw Depp and Heard sitting alone at their respective tables and on the stand doing their respective best to avoid looking at each other. Having divorced in 2016 under media scrutiny and a TRO, Depp sued Heard in March 2019 for millions over a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed the actress wrote about being a survivor of domestic abuse. Though the op-end never mentioned Depp by name, the past Oscar nominee has claimed it “devastated” his career and he was in fact the one who was abused in the relationship.
Having failed to get the case dismissed or moved out of Virginia, Heard countersued for $100 million in the summer of 2020. That countersuit came months before Depp’s UK libel case against The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater” flamed out unsuccessfully in November 2020.
With short and pointed questions and a now more often-looking-up Depp watching, Brown Rudick’s Vasquez pushed Heard to explain why on that late 2016 audio tape the actress also seemed to taunt Depp to tell the world that he was the abused one in the relationship not her. “I was saying it because he was a man who beat me up for five years,” Heard pushed back. “I could never hurt Johnny.”
In a tactical move to put the witness under an increasingly harsh light, Vasquez sought to undermine Heard’s emotional testimony of today and in early May. To that end, she led with the accusations of the likes of a March 2013 incident of Depp “hitting you several times” and a 2015 incident in Tokyo. Like almost all the alleged incidents of violence that were photographed and presented in the case, Vasquez reprimanded Heard for the lack of bruises, wounds and more in many of the photographs around the time of the violence that she claims Depp inflicted upon her.
An approach that Heard’s side sees as indicative of the Depp strategy at this point.
“In the face of offensive questioning, Amber stood strong and spoke the truth” a source close to the Heard camp told Deadline right as court closed from the day. “It is because of treatment like this that women are afraid to stand up and speak out about domestic violence and abuse.”
In that context, one photo after another from various film and industry events during her marriage to Depp and 2015 clip from James Corden’s CBS late night show, Heard was confronted on why she did seem to be showing any signs of the violent abuse she claims the Pirates of the Caribbean actor battered her with. “Your nose doesn’t appear to be injured in any of these pictures,” Vasquez said to the defendant. Pointing to the power of well applied make-up, Heard coolly added: “Make-up will not cover-up swelling …ice will.”
In the back and forth between the defendant and the lawyer, Heard on a number of occasions sternly said that she had provided all the evidence she had. On photographs not seen by the jury, she also declared that “she would like to” have included such snaps but “that’s not my job.”
Punctuated with a number of statements of “I don’t know” and “I don’t recall,” from Heard, the cross exam also centered on the actress’ disputed assertion that she donated her 2016 $7 million divorce settlement, all of which she had received by October 2018, to charity. “As of today, you have not paid $3.5 millions of you own money to the ACLU …as of today you have not paid $3.5 millions of your own money to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles,” Vasquez clarified to an uncomfortable and agreeing Heard. I have never wanted to be seen as a victim,” Heard replied with a streak of anger as the lawyer listed off claims that the actress wanted Depp’s money and good press. “I pledged the entirety” to the charities, Heard added. “I haven’t been able to fulfill those pledges because I am being sued.”
Vasquez rightly remarked repeatedly that Heard had all of the $7 million nearly six months before her ex-husband sued her in March 2019, which pretty clearly means she wasn’t hampered by any legal worries over that time. The attorney also repeatedly read out and played public statements by Heard that she “donated” all of her settlement to the charities.
In this context, $500,000 payments to the ACLU from Heard’s post-Depp boyfriend Elon Musk were entered once again into the record. In some of her final words of the day on the stand, Heard insisted that those donations from Musk did not count against the sum of the $3.5 million the actress had pledged – a nuance that may have been lost on the jury in the staccato back and forth.
Musk was named as a potential witness by Heard in the trial, but the would-be Twitter owner will not be testifying it was confirmed weeks ago.
Coming again and again to the lack of medical records for many of Heard’s alleged injuries, Vasquez got caught up at one point in the paperwork of a visit by the actress to the actor’s physician Dr. David Kipper. While trying to nail Heard on the lack of citations of injuries, Vasquez was knocked off her game when Heard noted that the report said she was a “well-nourished male.” Sensing an opening, Heard said that she believed there was “a lot missing” from the Kipper paperwork. “There was nothing to document,” Vasquez hastily replied.
On another occasion, with Depp’s self-admitted drug use being highlighted, the two sparred over whether the actress “captured” the actor doing cocaine. Centering on a widely seen photo of a table in one of the couple’s residences with several lines of the drug chopped out on it, things turned almost comical with Heard responding to Vasquez’s demand to know why there wasn’t any “residue” on the “tidy” table.
“When you snort cocaine, typically it goes up your nose,” Heard started, adding that perhaps the lawyer didn’t know how taking cocaine worked.
As he has before over the previous four weeks of the trial, the widely mocked Depp looked to giggle and quip with his lawyer Ben Chew. The actor was particularly lively during one period this afternoon when the lawyers were once again talking to Judge Penny Azcarte in what was a fairly broken up session.
Heading into the final weeks of the trial, the cross examination of Heard ended today around 5:22 PM ET. It will continue on Tuesday with court set to start at 9 AM ET. Judge Azcarte has said he wants to see closing arguments start and finish on May 27.
2nd UPDATE, 12:18 PM: Even before the cross-examination of Amber Heard by Johnny Depp’s lawyers has began in the former Pirates of the Caribbean star’s $50 million defamation trial against his ex-wife, things got very heated and messy today in Fairfax, VA.
“I tried to protect Johnny … and the secret I tried hard to keep for five years,” Heard loudly told the court of why she never filed charges or a LAPD report against her then-husband. “Unfortunately, all of this is real,” the actress added Monday of her claims of physical, emotional, verbal and sexual violence. “I narrowly survived it, but I survived it.”
Calling the public spectacle of the media attention and the much-delayed trial “torture,” Heard proclaimed, “I want to move on; I want Johnny to move on.”
Other than that repeated sentiment, it was almost all about the money today as the high-profile trial began its fifth week after a week off — specifically, Aquaman star Heard’s career and the $7 million settlement Heard received from Depp in the couple’s 2016 divorce.
During her testimony that her professional life had been harmed by the Depp controversy, Heard laid out the clauses of her three-picture Justice League contract with Warner Bros. The actress said that her pay for 2018’s Aquaman was $1 million plus “box office bonuses.” Heard also revealed that her check for the 2023-premiering sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was $2 million — a film that she barely was able to remain with, she claimed today.
“I fought really hard to stay in the movie, they didn’t want me … in the film,” Heard said of her Mera role in the James Wan-helmed sequel. Subsequently, the film had “a very-pared down version of that role … they removed a bunch out.”
There have been whispers that Heard actually is in the DC flick very little — rumors that Warner Bros has neither confirmed nor denied.
The actress further detailed Monday how her lucrative contract with cosmetics company L’Oréal dried up after the statements by Depp confidant and former lawyer Adam Waldman were picked up by the Daily Mail and other media over the past couple of years. After making $200,000 an episode for her stint on Paramount+’s 2020 adaptation of Steven King’s The Stand, Heard said on the stand that she essentially was dropped from all promotion of the series due to the perceptions of her and Depp’s lawsuit.
In terms of the $7 million divorce settlement, how much of that settlement actually has been donated to the ACLU and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as Heard promised six years ago was a major theme of today’s testimony. Often cited as credit to Heard’s character and a solid refutation to taints of her being a gold digger, the fact is Heard has not handed over the vast majority of the respective $3.5 million to either the ACLA or CHLA, as Deadline exclusively confirmed on January 6, 2021.
Clearly trying to turn the tide on the lack of fulfilling her pledge, Heard told her lawyer Elaine Bredehoft that she “was receiving the installments over time” and paying them out over time for “tax benefits.” Declaring that she “fully intends” to pay the donations in full and detailing how her career was harmed after the couple’s divorce, Heard added she “would love [Depp] to stop suing me so I can.”
In the exchange, Heard noted that she has paid out “over $6 million” in legal fees since Depp sued her in 2019 over a late-2018 Washington Post op-ed on domestic violence. Some of those fees might include Heard’s participation and testimony in Depp’s ultimately unsuccessful 2020 UK trial to sue Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater.”
Even though a joint statement on the couple’s 2016 divorce bluntly said there “never false claims for “financial gain’” and “there was never intent of physical or emotional harm,” the often-litigious Depp insists that he never abused Heard and in fact was the victim of abuse in the relationship. The fired Fantastic Beasts actor also said three years ago and repeatedly since that Heard’s ACLU-drafted op-ed, which never mentioned him by name, “devastated” his once-highflying career.
Asked at length about the op-ed, which Heard retweeted at the time with a headline that the Jeff Bezos-owned broadsheet later finessed, the actor stated, “It’s not about Johnny; the only person who thinks it is about Johnny is Johnny.” On the verge of tears and with a breaking voice, she went on say, “It’s about me and what happened to me.”
Heard testified later that she never first brought up the sexual assault allegations in her marriage. Explaining her summer 2020 $100 million countersuit against Depp, Heard said that her ex-husband’s right-hand man Waldman, allegedly on behalf of the actor, gave information of sexual assaults claims and more to the media to discredit the actress. Waldman is not a part of Depp’s legal team in the Virginia courtroom at the trial that began April 11.
“All I have is my name, I come from nothing,” the Rum Diary actor pleaded to the courtroom earlier in the East Coast afternoon. “I was never interested in Johnny’s money,” she went on to say of the $7 million settlement the couple eventually agreed on to end their relationship. Heard made a point of telling the courtroom that she took the money simply to end the legal fighting and that she initially had offered much more.
Running the risk of losing the jury’s focus with a long examination, Bredehoft immediately after the lunch break today launched back into the couple’s 2016 divorce proceedings to capture their attention. Playing the court an audiotape of the duo from June 2016 discussing the hurdles that seemed to hinder their ability to move the separation, and amidst constant objections from Depp’s team, the defense heard Heard asking her then-husband to agree to a “mutual gag order” as he complained about allegation of abuse and a temporary restraining order “throwing me under the bus.”
“I was trying to get Johnny to stop the smear campaign,” Heard said from the stand after the first portion of the tape was played. She told the Fairfax County Courthouse that Depp promised to “ruin my career” and “that I would be selling Depends.” As has been the case through most of his ex-spouse’s testimony, a sunglasses-wearing Depp remained huddled over the table in front of him scribbling as the sometimes-crying Heard spoke and as portions of the 2016 tape played
“I was begging Johnny to not make me prove what I have been sitting on the stand proving to you today,” Heard claimed on breaking the TRO to get “yes men” surrounded Depp to “back off.”
“I don’t want this,” the actress added of the bitter and dirty laundry-airing trial Depp launched on March 2019. “I didn’t want to hurt him, I loved him so much … that’s why I didn’t file criminal charges, that’s why I didn’t file a police report even though it was beginning used against me … by your side.”
Heard will continue on the stand until the end of court today at around 5:30 p.m. ET and is expected back tomorrow
UPDATED, 10:28 AM PT: Amber Heard testified today that fears for her own safety led her to file for divorce against Johnny Depp in 2016 and that she also sought a restraining order after an argument in which he struck her with a phone.
“I knew that if I didn’t, I’d likely not literally survive,” Heard said Monday as she fought back tears. “I was so scared that it was going to end really badly for me, and I really didn’t want to leave him.”
She filed for divorce in the aftermath of a May 21, 2016, argument at their downtown Los Angeles penthouse, one that led to the police being called. Although Heard did not file a police report that evening, she later sought and obtained a restraining order against him.
“I wanted to change my locks, I wanted a good night’s sleep,” she said. “Security would always let him in the house no matter what I asked them.”
She added, “I was scared and very conflicted because the person I was scared of was also the person I was in love with.”
Depp has denied Heard’s allegations that he was physically violent, and filed a $50 million defamation case against her after she published a Washington Post op ed in which she wrote that he was “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
In her testimony on Monday, she went through the events of May 21.
At the time, she and Depp had been separated for about a month. But his mother had just died, and he and Heard made plans for him to come by the Eastern Columbia penthouse that day.
Heard said that when Depp arrived early that evening, she could tell that he was inebriated. He started talking about an incident from a month earlier, in which feces had been left on their bed. Heard contends that it was from one of their dogs, but Depp insisted that one of her friends had left it there as a prank.
“He just went on and on about it,” Heard said.
She got a male friend on the phone to explain why such a prank “was impossible,” Heard said, but Depp ended up screaming at him.
Heard said that Depp, after leaving and going up the stairs, then came back down and grabbed the phone and told the friend: “You can take her. You can have her.”
It was then, she said, that Depp “throws his arm back with the phone and throws it in my face.” She said it felt like her eye had been hit.
“I put my head in my hand and immediately started crying. I said, ‘Johnny, you hit me,'” Heard said.
She said that Depp started taunting her, saying, “Oh yeah, I hit you, huh?”
She said that he then “whacks me on top of my head” and grabbed her by her hair.
“I don’t know if he was intending to hit me around face, but he does this gesture around my face to try to expose my face to him,” she said. She said that Depp then told her, “Let me see how bad I hurt you this time.”
Heard said that her friend, Raquel, living in the apartment next door, came into the room and “managed to get in front, between he and I.” Heard said that she calmly told Depp, “No, Johnny, no.”
Her friend put her arms around her as she curled up around the couch, but “Johnny is just screaming at me to get the f*ck up.”
She said that two of Depp’s security guards then entered, with one of them saying to Depp, “Boss. boss.” She said that Depp then smashed things around the apartment and eventually left.
Heard said that she did not call 911, but she did call her lawyer, who referred her to a domestic relations attorney. Depp’s lawyers objected to Heard’s attempts to identify who called the police — it was a friend — but said that when the officers arrived, she told them that she refused to cooperate on her attorney’s advice.
She also declined to file a report.
“I wanted to protect Johnny,” she said. “I didn’t want him to be arrested. I didn’t want him Ito be in trouble. I didn’t want the world to know.”
The jury was shown a series of pictures showing her with redness on the side of her face. Heard said that the photos were taken that evening by her friend. Another photo, which she said was taken the next day, showed some blackness around the eye and redness below.
Depp has acknowledged throwing a phone on the couch, but denies striking Heard. His case has focused in part on witnesses who said that they saw Heard in the days after their argument but did not notice bruises on her face.
Heard’s legal team also presented text messages that Depp wrote to Heard on May 22, the day after their confrontation. “All my love and profound apologies,” he wrote that evening. Heard said that in a phone conversation with him, Depp “said he was sorry he reacted the way he did” and that “he didn’t man to hurt me.”
PREVIOUSLY, 8:24 AM PT: Amber Heard’s testimony resumed on Monday in Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation trial against her, as the actress made further details of her ex-husband’s alleged abuse during their marriage.
The Fairfax, VA, trial was on a one-week break as Judge Penney Azcarate attended a pre-scheduled judicial conference, but Heard picked up where she left off, with stories from their stormy marriage, presented along with audio of their arguments and photos of her alleged injuries.
One photo, from December 15, 2015, showed her bruised temple. Heard testified that Depp caused the injury during one of their arguments.
“Johnny had his hand on part of my face, with my face down, and he was punching my head, repeatedly punching my in my head,” she said. “That is what caused that bruise in my temple.”
Depp has denied abusing Heard. He filed his lawsuit against her after she published a Washington Post op ed in December 2018, in which she wrote that “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
In Monday’s testimony, Heard said that by January 2016, Depp’s drug use had become so severe that he had been “hallucinating.” Depp’s attorney objected to that specific characterization, but Heard was allowed to describe other aspects his behavior.
“He was talking to people who weren’t there, meaning people who were not in the room,” she said. “He would comment on someone being in the room behind me who wasn’t there. It was terrifying.”
Heard also addressed a notorious incident from April 2016, when they got in an argument after Depp missed her 30th birthday dinner. She said that their fight included a shoving match, and Depp throwing a bottle of champagne that went through a painting. She said that he then wrestled her down on their bed and grabbed her by her pubic area. He was taunting me: ‘Look who is so tough. Want to be tough like a man now?'” Depp finally screamed at her, “Happy f*cking birthday!” and then stormed out, she said.
The next day, she said, a friend came over and they were to drive to the Coachella Music Festival. One of their dogs, Boo, had been on the bed but had bowel-control issues. Depp had testified earlier that fecal matter had been left in the bed, an incident that was the source of a Saturday Night Live skit over the weekend.
But Heard denied committing any kind of prank. “I don’t think that is funny, period,” she said. “I think that is disgusting.”
Best of Deadline