Sobbing on the stand, Amber Heard told a packed Virginia courtroom about physical and sexual abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. The Aquaman actress detailed on Thursday a handful of separate abuse incidents that took place during their rocky relationship, including a multiday assault in Australia that culminated with Depp pinning her on a kitchen countertop and vaginally penetrating her with a liquor bottle in a room where broken bottles covered the floor.
“I didn’t know if the bottle he had inside me was broken,” she said. “’Please God, I hope it’s not broken.’”
Heard’s testimony underscored a dramatic fifteenth day in Depp’s $50 million defamation suit against his ex-wife. Wearing a prim white dress and black cardigan and with her hair pulled back in a bun, Heard addressed the jury for more than six hours, relaying a series of disturbing anecdotes that allegedly took place from 2014 to 2015. In a strategic move by Heard’s attorneys, the graphic accounts marked the final testimony jurors heard before breaking for 10 days while Judge Penney Azcarate attends a previously scheduled conference. Earlier in the week, Heard’s team lost its bid to toss Depp’s suit at the mid-trial mark.
The seven-member jury will need to sift through contradicting accounts from the former couple when they deliberate about whether Heard defamed Depp with a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse. The disputed incident in Australia took place in 2015, during a bloody three days in which the Pirates of the Caribbean actor lost the tip of his finger. He previously testified that he is the victim of the domestic abuse and was maimed when Heard threw a bottle of vodka at him. The injury required hand surgery and Depp’s return home from the set of Pirates of the Caribbean 5.
But Heard, who filed a $100 million countersuit against Depp, offered a very different series of events in Australia. She told the court on Thursday that, not long after arriving, Depp took out a bag of MDMA and suggested they do the drug together. “Absolutely not,” she recalled saying. Her first night there, she said, was filled with arguing and physical violence: “He shoved me and I went flying across these parquet floors.”
She said her memory is “murky,” but recalled that he later “shoved me up against the fridge. He had me by the throat, and he just was holding me there by my throat.” On the second day, a sleep-deprived Depp took 10 tablets of ecstasy, Heard claimed, and began accusing her of having affairs with her Danish Girl co-star Eddie Redmayne and her London Fields co-stars Billy Bob Thornton and Jim Sturgess.
“I remember him slamming my head against [a kitchen appliance],” she said. “He had me by the neck, squeezing my neck, and it got really nasty. Like, no one likes me. ‘Everyone warned me about you.’ I remember feeling really hurt. And then I shoved him hard to get him off me, and he shoved me back and he said, ‘You want to go, little girl?’”
The fight escalated. “At some point, he had a broken bottle against my face/neck area, by my jawline, and he told me he’d carve up my face,” Heard said. In a stark contrast to Depp’s testimony last month, Heard said Depp began throwing bottles at her and ripped off her nightgown. As she stood naked, he started punching a wall, screaming: “‘I fucking hate you. You ruined my fucking life,’” she said.
As Depp watched intently, Heard began sobbing on the stand as she described being assaulted with the liquor bottle. She said she took “a bunch of sleeping pills” and went to bed. When she woke up, she heard loud music playing and Depp was still awake. He had smeared the walls and lampshades with blood, paint, and mashed potatoes. Even more bizarre, her nightgown, a wedding gift from Depp’s detox doctor, was in tatters, with raw meat wrapped inside the pieces. She says she was bleeding from her vagina. No one was staying in the Australia rental except for Depp and Heard.
Depp shook his head while Heard recounted the ordeal.
The actress, who won’t face cross examination until after court resumes on May 16, was the sole witness on Thursday, and her depiction of Depp as a jealous and violent drug addict never let up. She described how he “head-butted me square on the nose,” which was followed by “searing pain.” She claimed Depp threatened to kill her on three occasions.
Heard’s testimony played like a macabre, B-side version of an outwardly glamorous lifestyle, with the movie-star pair hitting red carpets together around the world. Ahead of the 2014 Met Gala, the actress said Depp battered her in their hotel room.
“Johnny shoves me and kind of grabs me by the collarbone area — like not really my neck, but top of my neck above my collarbone below my neck,” she said. “I think at that point … I shoved him back. But I can’t really recall. … I remember he threw a bottle at me. It missed me, but it broke the chandelier.”
She continued: “Johnny and I are in this struggle in the living room, and he kind of, like, shoves me down on the sofa, and I get up and I’m trying to get him off me, and he’s stronger than me, I don’t know how else to describe it. At some point, he just whacked me in the face. I think that was the first time I was like, ‘Is this a broken nose?’ At the time, I was unsure what that feeling was, but I suspected I had a broken nose.”
While traveling to Boston on a private plane in 2014, Heard depicted an irrational Depp who was consumed with jealousy over her Adderall Diaries co-star James Franco. (Depp was shooting the film Black Mass at the time.)
“He was mad at me for taking the job with James Franco. He hated, hated James Franco and was already accusing me of secretly having a thing with him in my past,” she said. Reeking of weed and alcohol, Depp allegedly said: “Tell me, did he slip the tongue?”
Heard began crying on the stand as she continued: “I was looking out of the window, and he slaps my face. It was the first time something like that happened in front of people.” She said she walked away but the abuse continued. “I feel this boot in my back,” she said. “He just kicked me in the back. No one said anything. No one did anything. You could hear a pin drop on that plane.” Depp’s sister, Christi Dembrowski, and members of his security team, who were on the plane, previously testified that they never saw Depp abuse Heard.
Heard’s lawyers played audio recordings from the flight in which Depp could be heard moaning like a wounded animal. Heard said he later passed out in the bathroom, and the incident prompted her to begin attending Al-Anon meetings, while he began seeking medical assistance to detox from drugs. “I was trying to get my strength to leave him,” she explained.
Another lowlight from the relationship came during the Tokyo premiere of the 2015 Depp film Mordecai. Ahead of the premiere, Heard said: “He grabbed me by the arm and slammed me up against the wall, and I kind of struggled with him, trying to push him off of me, and I managed to get out of his grasp enough to take a few steps, and I kind of curved around and went into the closet. And by the time I made it into the closet, he had me by the hair and it felt like he was just wailing on me but in a really sloppy way, like hitting the back of my head, and kind of wrestled me down to the floor. I mean, it felt to me like I didn’t even have a fair shot.”
After the pair walked the Mordecai red carpet, she says she kept checking photos from the event online to see if she had bruising on her body.
Much of Depp’s volatile behavior was fueled by drug use, Heard claimed.
“Nothing I did made him stop hitting me. Nothing. So you know, I tried for over a year, maybe two,” she said. “Just not responding physically, not responding verbally. I tried to freeze. I tried to go to a different place. I would try lashing out verbally. I would try to threaten that if he hit me again, that I would call the police. You know, police were called several times. But I tried to do everything. I even threatened to leave him, you know, and tried to leave him, and nothing was working. And I think by this point in our relationship, we’re both saying awful things to each other, screaming at each other, and unfortunately, when Johnny was hitting me, he just went off.”
Before resting its case on Tuesday, Depp’s team used multiple witnesses to establish Heard as the physically aggressive party in the marriage and Depp as the passive victim. The actress did admit on the stand that she landed one good punch on Depp during an incident in Los Angeles when she believed he was going to throw her sister down a flight of stairs.
While Depp’s legal team will have to wait for its cross examination of Heard, a spokesperson for the actor offered an assessment of the actress’ time on the stand. “As Mr. Depp’s counsel correctly predicted in their opening statements last month, Ms. Heard did indeed deliver ‘the performance of her life’ in her direct examination,” the spokesperson said in a statement provided to Rolling Stone. “While Ms. Heard’s stories have continued to grow new and convenient details, Mr. Depp’s recollections have remained exactly the same throughout the six painful years since her first allegations were made. His truth – the truth – is the same no matter the environment in which it is has been presented. The upcoming cross examination from Mr. Depp’s team will be most telling, and will certainly highlight the many fallacies Ms. Heard has now attempted to pass off as fact throughout her convoluted testimony.”
Heard’s team shot back: “As evidenced by the statement just released, Mr. Depp’s defamation claim is falling apart so rapidly that his counsel are turning from prosecutor to persecutor. They boast that Mr. Depp’s story has not changed. If so, since he lost the domestic violence restraining order and he resoundingly lost the libel case in the U.K., perhaps he should consider a new strategy rather than the recycled approach of attacking the victim, and refusing to take responsibility for his own conduct.”
Closing arguments are expected to take place on May 27, with a verdict likely coming after Memorial Day weekend.