The defamation trial between the former married couple Amber Heard and Johnny Depp begins today, April 11, 2022, in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Ahead of the court case presided over by Judge Penney Azcarate, Hollywood actress and actor Johnny Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, has issued a rare public statement.
The litigation between Heard and Depp has been long and arduous for both parties. After a short marriage, the couple who met on the set of The Rum Diary (2011), years of lawsuits, domestic abuse allegations, and the rise of #JusticeForJohnnyDepp ensued.
At the end of 2018, Heard wrote an Op-Ed for The Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse. While the Aquaman (2018) star did not name her ex-husband, Depp sued Heard for $50 million for defamation. Heard countersued, alleging that the Pirates of the Caribbean star had encouraged a smear campaign against her, and now the defamation trial will sit before the Virginia court and be televised across the world.
Both parties have a slew of testimonies to support their claims against the other. Heard is backed by Tesla chief Elon Musk and actor James Franco (Spider-Man) and will also present evidence involving Marvel star Paul Bettany (WandaVision), with whom Depp shared graphic and violent texts regarding his ex-wife.
Meanwhile, throughout the many months of pre-trial court appointments, Depp’s lawyer, Benjamin Chew, managed to secure Heard’s phone records in order to prove her extensive domestic abuse photographs were fabricated. Likewise, receipts of Heard’s alleged donations to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are said to be obtained — the actress claimed part of her $7 million divorce settlement would be donated to the ACLU, although this is not yet proven.
However, recently, Depp lost a verdict against the DC Extended Universe star after Heard’s team pledged to invoke a specific Virginia law for the legal battle. Heard can argue to the jury that she should be protected from a libel lawsuit due to her Op-Ed never naming Depp but serving a public concern: preventing domestic violence.
Now, as the two movie stars and their respective legal teams begin the trial presided by Judge Azcarate, Heard has issued a rare public statement to her 4.1 million Instagram followers alluding to the alleged abuse. She said:
“I’m going to go offline for the next several weeks. As you may know, I’ll be in Virginia, where I face my ex-husband Johnny Depp in court. Johnny is suing me for an op-ed I wrote in the Washington Post, in which I recounted my experience of violence and domestic abuse. I never named him, rather I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power. I continue to pay that price, but hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny. I have always maintained a love for Johnny and it brings me great pain to have to live out the details of our past life together in front of the world. At this time, I recognize the ongoing support I’ve been fortunate to receive throughout these years, and in these coming weeks I will be leaning on it more than ever. With love always, A”
This will be the second major lawsuit between the pair. In 2020, Depp lost his libel trial against The Sun, executive editor Dan Wootton, and parent company News Group Newspapers after the British tabloid wrote that the Captain Jack Sparrow actor was a “wife-beater”. Justice Andrew Nicol found that most domestic abuse claims were substantially true during the libel case at the London High Court, with Depp’s appeal of the court ruling also rebuked.
Since allegations of domestic violence hit the media, Depp has lost out on his roles as Jack Sparrow for The Walt Disney Company’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, as well as the dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff, the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
For the former, Pirates of the Caribbean 6 is currently halted, with a Margot Robbie spinoff also in the works. The latter sees Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen take on the role of Albus Dumbledore’s (Jude Law) arch-enemy in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022).
Amber Heard will star in next year’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) from director James Wan — the Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman) movie was originally slated for a Christmas 2022 release, opening against Avatar 2 (2022) but has since been shifted.
Despite generous support for Johnny Depp with the #JusticeForJohnnyDepp movement on social media, as well as evidence such as the acquired bodycam footage from an earlier altercation, Heard will continue to play Mera for the foreseeable future in the DCEU.
In contrast to Heard’s blockbuster roles, the Donostia Award recipient’s last movie was underwhelmingly received at the global box office. However, that did not stop Minamata (2020), where Depp stars as photographer W. Eugene Smith, from placing third in the 94th Academy Awards’ #OscarsFanFavorite.
How do you think the Amber Heard v. Johnny Depp defamation case will play out?