Saturday, September 23, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, September 23, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Under cross-examination, contradictions surface in Depp’s testimony

Video played in court showed a violent side of the much-loved "Pirates of the Caribbean" star.

FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) — He slams cabinet doors, breaking glass. He kicks the wall, hollers obscenities, pours himself a large glass of wine and becomes furious when his wife Amber Heard asks how much he's been drinking.

But when Johnny Depp figures out that he’s being recorded, he snatches the cell phone and what sounds like a struggle ensues. The video of Depp in his West Hollywood home is less than a minute long. But it may be long enough to offer a picture of the one-time Disney star that contradicts testimony in which he depicted himself as a victim of domestic abuse.

Depp has been at the Fairfax County Judicial Center testifying in the defamation case he brought against Heard. He sued the "Aquaman" actress after she wrote an op-ed in 2018 in which she identified herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse.

During the past three days under direct and cross-examination, the actor has depicted himself as the stoic husband who walked away from fights — at times locking himself in a bathroom. But after the video was shown, Benjamin Rottenborn of Woods Rogers, one of Heard’s attorneys, asked, “You would agree that you were violent in that clip?”

“Yes, I did assault a couple of cabinets, but I did not touch Ms. Heard," he said.

Later, as Rottenborn leaned into questions about Depp’s actions during the video, the actor said, “One does stray from complete control over their emotions at times. And that is a very normal, primal thing to do. I did not try to intimidate Ms. Heard. If she was intimidated, why was she filming? If she was scared to death, why didn’t she leave?”

Rottenborn played the video, along with audio recordings of Depp, 58, in court Thursday during cross-examination in the defamation case. Depp is demanding $50 million in damages over Heard’s op-ed.

The actress, 35, wrote that she had become a public figure representing domestic abuse two years earlier, when she would have been married to Depp. Otherwise, the editorial was about policy that would help domestic violence survivors. It never mentions Depp by name. Even so, he says Heard was talking about him and that he lost his "Pirates of the Caribbean" role as a result. Heard has filed a counterclaim asking for $100 million in damages.

Throughout the trial so far, Depp has put up witnesses who testified that Heard instigated issues between the two.  Depp spent two days on the stand, talking about incidents that occurred in California where the couple lived, and in various locations, including Australia where "Pirates of the Caribbean 5" was filmed.

While in Australia, the actor said he severed a finger when Heard tossed a bottle of vodka at him. In court Thursday, attorneys displayed photographs of the messages Depp left for Heard on mirrors and lampshades, using a mix of paint and blood from his severed finger.

“Billy Bob and Easy Amber,” said one of the messages, a reference to one of Heard’s co-stars, Billy Bob Thornton.

The two recorded one another and exchanged multiple text messages with various friends, actors and employees. Some of it concerns Depp's use of drugs and alcohol. At one point, Depp credited Heard with helping him move away from substance abuse. But at other times he grew irritated when she asked him whether he was drinking as she did in the video.

All of it is being shown each day to a jury in the packed courtroom of Chief Judge Penney Azcarate. The trial continues Monday with more cross-examination of Depp. It can be viewed online or on Court TV.

Categories / Courts, Entertainment

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.