Johnny Depp finishes testimony in defamation case, says ex-wife Amber Heard left him 'broken'

Actor Johnny Depp reacts as he testifies in the courtroom during the defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, US, on April 25, 2022.
PHOTO: Reuters via Pool

WASHINGTON - American actor Johnny Depp concluded his testimony on Monday (April 25) in the defamation case he filed against his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, saying he was the victim of domestic violence in their relationship and was "broken" by the time their marriage fell apart.

Depp's fourth day on the witness stand in a Virginia court ended with his attorneys playing audio from a conversation that took place after Heard had secured a restraining order against him in 2016.

The Pirates Of The Caribbean (2003 to 2017) star said he agreed to Heard's request to meet in a San Francisco hotel room because he thought she might retract her accusation that he had abused her.

In the recording, Depp proposed that the couple issue a joint letter saying they loved each other and the media had created a storm around them.

The suggestion was an attempt to find a "peaceful settlement", Depp said.

Heard, known for her role in Aquaman (2018), resisted the idea and challenged him to go public with his claim that he was the one who had suffered abuse.

"Tell the world, Johnny," she said. "Tell them I, Johnny Depp - a man - I'm a victim too of domestic violence."

Depp said he responded: "Yes, I am."

The 58-year-old actor is suing Heard, 36, for US$50 million (S$69 million). Heard has counter-sued for US$100 million, saying Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.

In another audio clip from the San Francisco meeting, Depp threatened to cut himself with a knife.

"That's psychologically, emotionally where I was," he said. "At the end, I was broken ... I thought the only answer is here, take my blood, that's all I've got left."

The case hinges on a December 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear Heard was referencing him.

Actor Amber Heard stands in the courtroom, as the jury leaves for a lunch break, during ex-husband Johnny Depp's defamation trial against her, at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, US,
PHOTO: Reuters via Pool 

The couple's divorce was finalised in 2017 after a two-year marriage.

Earlier on Monday, Heard's attorneys introduced news articles that they said showed Depp's behaviour had already harmed his lucrative movie career well before Heard's piece.

Headlines included "Why are all of Johnny Depp's movies bombing at the box office?" and "Where did it all go wrong for Johnny Depp?"

The articles, published before Heard's piece, claimed Depp drank vodka for breakfast and was late to movie sets.

Depp said that as a longtime Hollywood star, he was the subject of "hit pieces".

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The actor testified that Heard would slap or shove him when the couple disagreed and once threw a vodka bottle at his hand, cutting off the top of his right middle finger.

In a separate legal case in Britain, Heard denied throwing a bottle and severing Depp's finger. She said she threw things only to escape when he was beating her, and once punched him because she feared he would push her sister down the stairs.

Depp, once among the biggest stars in Hollywood, said he never struck Heard or any woman and that Heard's allegations cost him "everything".

A new Pirates movie was put on hold, and Depp was dropped from the Fantastic Beasts film franchise (2016 to present), a Harry Potter spinoff.

Heard's attorneys have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected as free speech under the United States Constitution's First Amendment.

In opening arguments, Heard's attorneys said Depp physically and sexually assaulted her while abusing drugs and alcohol.

A state court judge in Fairfax County, Virginia, is overseeing the trial, which is expected to last until late May.

Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against The Sun, a British tabloid that labelled him a "wife-beater". A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.

Depp's lawyers have said they filed the US case in Fairfax County, outside the nation's capital, because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant.