Court hears testimony from actor’s ex-wife, who says he was abusive and violent
Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent – The Guardian
Amber Heard waves as she arrives at the high court in London to testify in the libel trial against the Sun’s publisher. Photograph: Reuters
Amber Heard feared she would be killed by Johnny Depp, who was violent and abusive when high on drink or drugs, a London court has been told.
Opening the defence case in the libel trial initiated by the Pirates of the Caribbean star, Heard said her ex-husband threatened to disfigure her face and on one occasion told her: “I’m going to have to watch you get raped.”
Depp, 57, is suing the Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an article that called him a “wife beater” and referred to “overwhelming evidence” that he had attacked Heard.
Depp denies ever hitting Heard, 34, who has submitted details of 14 occasions during their relationship when she claims he assaulted her.
Heard entered the witness box on Monday to begin what is expected to be three days of testimony.
In her statement in the case, released at the same time, Heard said Depp would blame all his abusive actions on a “self-created third person, which he often called ‘the monster’”.
She said some incidents were so severe “that I was afraid he was going to kill me, either intentionally or just by losing control and going too far. He explicitly threatened to kill me many times, especially later in our relationship.”
The violence included “punching, slapping, kicking, head-butting and choking me, as well as throwing me into things, pulling me by my hair and shoving me or pushing me to the ground.”
The physical assaults and the worst of the verbal abuse “would usually happen when he was drunk or high on drugs”, she alleged. Often he did not remember “once he had slept it off”.
She added: “He had a violent and dark way of speaking: the way he talked about our relationship being ‘dead or alive’ and telling me that death was the only way out of the relationship; the way he would describe what he wanted to do to me if I left him or hurt him (for example, carving my face up so no one else would want me).
“His language towards others who he didn’t like or was threatened by (detailing how he wanted to have someone tortured or how cheap and easy it would be to have someone knocked off) [was violent]. He could be very intense and dark.”
Heard said Depp made “all kinds of demeaning and derogatory comments about actresses (‘two-bit whores’) and about me wanting to work as an actress.
“He demeaned me anytime I tried to wear anything that could be seen as sexy, calling me a ‘whore’, ‘slut’, ‘fame-hungry’ and ‘an attention whore’, but it got worse over time.
“He started saying things like ‘Well I’m going to have to watch you get raped’ and ‘I hope you get railed by a bunch of fucking fellas’. Sometimes he used racial epithets about the men I would be – or deserved to be – assaulted by.”
In cross-examination, Heard denied having ever taken cocaine while she was with Depp but agreed she had taken MDMA and mushrooms a “handful” of times.
Her statement said: “Johnny attacked me a lot of times, on many different occasions.”
Asked by Eleanor Laws QC, representing Depp, about whether she had a problem with controlling her temper, Heard said: “I did have outbursts of anger at times. Yes, I lost my cool with Johnny in our fights.”
She added: “I was nervous about being away from home when I was working because that always caused fights. Johnny was insecure and jealous, he was extremely insecure about me working away from home.”
Heard admitted to becoming “extremely distressed” after her iCloud account was hacked and someone “stole naked photos of me and manipulated them”, releasing hundreds of images on to the internet. “They went everywhere and at home Johnny blamed me,” she said.
Heard said Depp’s employees had not seen how their arguments developed. “These things happened behind closed doors … I never got violent. Many years into the relationship I did try and defend myself when it got serious and I thought my life was threatened.”
Asked by Mr Justice Nicol whether she “threw pots and pans at Mr Depp”, Heard said: “Only to escape him.”
Heard recalled the night when she and Depp finally broke up in May 2016, describing the “tons of damage” he inflicted on their LA penthouse. She maintained he had broken glasses, smashed sconces and punched paintings.
Asked whether her account was a lie because other witnesses did not record the same damage, Heard denied embellishing her descriptions.
Laws put it to Heard that she had made up her face so that it looked like she had been injured. “No, I have never done that,” Heard replied.
She said she had used makeup after that incident. “I had to cover up my bruises to not look injured. It’s horribly embarrassing. You are constantly asked to comment.”
Heard and Depp started going out in 2011 after meeting on the film set of The Rum Diary. They married in 2015.
The hearing continues.