Round two of the explosive, protracted battle between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp will begin Monday in court in Virginia – where the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star is sues his ex-wife for $50 million claims she defamed him in a comment in 2018.
The star-studded witness list for the Fairfax County trial includes everyone from Elon Musk to James Franco and the feuding ex-couple himself.
At the heart of the case is the play Heard, 35, wrote for her Washington Postin which she spoke out about being a victim of “sexual violence”.
While Depp is not named in the comment, the actor, who once made more than $20 million per film, says it ruined his reputation and career after it was widely believed Heard wrote about their five-year relationship.
High-profile libel cases like this are usually tried behind closed doors, but a jury of 12 Virginians will ultimately decide whether they find Heard’s allegations credible.
Just days after the publication of Heard’s op-ed, Disney pulled Depp from its Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which has grossed more than $4.5 billion at the box office. And after losing his UK court case against The Sun in 2020 – over describing Depp as a “wife beater” – the actor retired from his role in the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts, apparently at the behest of Warner Bros .
Unlike the UK case, which had fewer witnesses but the judge ruled that Depp had physically abused Heard, the Virginia case has a long witness list and is expected to last six weeks.
Jury selection in the case begins Monday.
Heard has claimed that Depp was always the aggressor and every physical reaction from her was to defend herself, while the actor has accused his “sociopathic” ex-wife of being the perpetrator of the violence that has damaged their marriage.
Heard on Saturday announced on Instagram that she will leave social media during the Virginia trial, adding, “I have always loved Johnny and it pains me greatly to have to act out the details of our past lives together in front of the world.”
Both Heard and Depp are expected to comment – although it wasn’t immediately clear if Depp would attend the trial.
Heard’s former lover Elon Musk, actor James Franco, WandaVision star Paul Bettany, actress Ellen Barkin, representatives from Disney and Warner Bros., as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Los Angeles Police Department are expected to testify. Some will likely testify from afar.
Two LAPD officers who went to the ex-couple’s home in May 2016 for a domestic disturbance are said to be taking a stand and playing body camera footage of the crime scene that day, according to insiders.
A person familiar with Heard’s case said there will likely be “more doctors and psychiatrists, more pictures, more audio, more video and more documents showing there was abuse” than at the British trial.
Heard’s 1,530-item exhibit list includes a text exchange between Depp and Paul Bettany, in which Depp writes: “Let’s burn Amber!!! …Let’s drown them before we burn them!!! I’ll fuck her burned corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.” The disturbing news was revealed at the British trial.
“These are two people who had difficult, abusive childhoods,” a source familiar with both Depp and Heard told The Post. “Amber had a difficult father who she once compared to Johnny, and Johnny’s mother was very hard on him. Maybe that’s why they both keep fighting it and not letting it go.”
A spokeswoman for Heard told The Post that “the UK High Court of Justice has already found that Mr Depp was involved in at least 12 counts of domestic violence against Amber in his defamation lawsuit against the London Sun. Now he is seeking a different outcome in his defamation lawsuit against Amber.”
Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim against Depp when he filed his $50 million defamation lawsuit.
Celebrity attorney Claire Gil said The Hollywood Reporter that this court battle, which will be televised and made available to the public, is unique.
“It’s very rare for someone to take that kind of a risk. One could say that this suggests that he may be telling the truth. The perception is ‘why would anyone do that unless what’s being said about them isn’t true,'” she said. “Others would say he’s desperate and has no choice to go through with it. Either way it’s really unusual.”
Additional reporting by Dana Kennedy
https://nypost.com/2022/04/10/johnny-depp-defamation-trial-against-amber-heard-to-begin-monday/ Johnny Depp’s trial for defamation against Amber Heard begins Monday