In April 2022, actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s legal woes took center stage when the estranged couple faced each other in a $100 million defamation lawsuit. At the heart of it all was Heard’s 2018 editorial for the Washington Post, in which she identifies herself as a survivor of domestic violence and sexual violence, but does not name Depp as her abuser. Depp then sued Heard for $50 million, accusing her of defamation. Heard then countersued for $100 million, alleging that Depp attempted to slander her name and disparage her career.
The trial itself, which took place in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia, was ugly from the start. But over time it got even uglier, thanks a social media hype largely driven by passionate Depp fans. Countless online accounts launched campaigns of hate against Heard as well as campaigns of support for the actor, who, in their eyes, simply couldn’t do anything wrong.
Social media undoubtedly played a big part in the six-week process that finally came to a close in June 2022, and the Netflix documentary Depp v. Heard” attempts to explore this in three episodes. Director Emma Cooper says the series tries to take a neutral perspective on the actual trial, instead paying special attention to the heated reactions online.
“My intention from the start was to provide a compelling and interesting account of what happened without using interviews or experts,” Cooper said diversity.
Here are the six most shocking moments from the documentary:
Heard and Depp met in 2009 on the set of The Rum Diary, Bruce Robinson’s comedy-drama based on the 1998 novel of the same name. The two were cast as each other’s lovers – Depp as struggling author and journalist Paul Kemp and Heard as Chenault, the fiancee of a seedy businessman. They began dating shortly after, envisioning their affair as a Hollywood romance.
Heard and Depp frequently exchanged love letters, in which Depp called Heard “Slim” while she called him “Steve,” nicknames used by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s characters in the 1944 film To Have and Haven’t. Depp frequently compared Bogart and Bacall’s 25-year age gap to his own 23-year age gap on Heard. Bogart and Bacall married when Bacall was only 20 and Bogart was 45. At the time of their marriage, Depp was 51 years old while Heard was only 29.
“I appreciate the fact that I was the rugged old Mist and she was this beautiful creature,” Depp said.
During the trial, Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, claimed the star used the Milani Cosmetics All-In-One Corrective Kit to cover up her bruises until she filed for divorce from Depp in 2016. However, the claim was denied by the cosmetics brand, which reached out to TikTok to say the color correction palette didn’t launch until 2017.
The revelation went viral on social media, with several Depp fans urging Milani Cosmetics to show their evidence to the actor’s lawyers. Although the brand never did, a TikTok user named Nuha (@devotedly.yours) did it instead. The TikToker filmed herself going to the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia in hopes of providing Milani Cosmetics’ evidence to Depp’s legal team.
“Okay guys, I’m here in the courthouse. I’ll go in right away and try to find his lawyer,” Nuha said in the video. “I don’t know how to find them, nobody” on his team, but we’ll try. I’m sure if I ask I’ll get kicked out, but here we go.”
In a subsequent video, Nuha said she told Depp’s attorney, Camille Vasquez, that she had “information that could be useful in the case.” In an email to Depp’s lawyers, Nuha wrote:
“Amber’s attorney showed off a concealer kit during her opening statement and claimed it was in her purse throughout her time with Johnny Depp (2014-2016) and that she used it all the time to cover bruises. Makeup brand, Milani Cosmetics, just posted a TikTok today claiming the palette didn’t exist until the end of 2017. I’m not sure if you can present new evidence once the trial has started or if any of it can be admissible, but I think a lying attorney should be something that the jury should be able to call for questioning.”
Although the phrase was originally used by Depp in court documents, it went viral when one of Heard’s attorneys asked the actor if he had poured himself alcohol “Mega Pint of Red Wine” after video captured by Heard showed Depp yelling angrily and slamming kitchen cabinets.
The humorous phrase prompted several internet users to wonder how much volume of liquid actually fits in a Mega Pint. It also inspired countless memes, including a “Mega Pint” remix uploaded to YouTube, a comical skit posted by YouTuber snerixx and other similar posts on Instagram and Twitter. Even Mega Pint accessories including stickers, t-shirts and wine goblets were available.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation of the trial came when Heard testified that Depp sexually assaulted her with a glass bottle. The documentary also states that it was “the first time live footage of a US courtroom showed a full view of a victim alleging sexual assault.”
In her statement, Heard recounted the incident, saying, “At one point he’s laying on top of me and yelling, ‘I f***ing hate you. You ruined my fucking life.’ I’m lying on the countertop. He grabbed my neck and lay on top of me. My back was on the counter. I thought he was going to hit me. I felt that pressure on my pubic bone and I could feel his arm moving. It looked like he was going to hit me. I could just feel that pressure.”
She continued, “I remember looking around the room, looking at all the broken bottles and broken glass, and I remember not wanting to move because I didn’t know if it was broken, I didn’t know if the bottle he had in it was “I was broken.”
The documentary explores, albeit briefly, the theory that many of Depp Stan’s accounts were online bots. “Cruel taunts, defamatory comments and ugly death threats on social media have some wondering if the former couple’s online supporters are even human,” he wrote Tatiana Siegel from Rolling Stone. The theory doesn’t seem too far-fetched considering that avid Depp fans were fixated on tarnishing Heard’s reputation and spewing a variety of hate speech against both Heard and her supporters.
There is still no definitive answer as to whether or not the Depp fan accounts were run by real people. However, Depp’s legal team said: “Todaythat Heard’s claims that there was an online defamation campaign coordinated against her were “completely unfounded” and “absurd”.
The trial of Depp and Heard came to a dramatic end in June 2022 after a seven-person jury found in her 2018 editorial for the Washington Post that Heard had acted with “malicious intent.” In the jury’s view, Heard’s written reports of domestic violence were sufficient to qualify as defamation and subsequently harmed Depp’s own career and reputation.
After the final verdict, one of Heard’s attorneys said said, “Today“These ‘one-sided’ social media chatter and posts about the Johnny Depp defamation trial ‘affected’ the verdict and turned the courtroom into a ‘zoo’.”
“How can you not? They went home every night. They have families. The families are on social media,” Elaine Bredehoft said of the jury. “Because of the court conference, we had a 10-day break in the middle. There was no way they could have been influenced by it.”
“Dork v. Heard is currently available to stream on Netflix. Watch a trailer for it below, via youtube:
on the Depp Heard trial: