Johnny Depp took the stand on Tuesday to testify in his $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, more than five years after their divorce was finalized.
Days after their divorce, Heard was granted a temporary restraining order against Depp when she claimed that Depp had physically attacked her. During his testimony, Depp said that Heard's allegations, which he's long denied, "were not based in any species of truth."
"It was a complete shock," he said. "It just didn't need to go in that direction as nothing of the kind had ever happened. In the relationship, there were arguments and things of that nature, but never did I myself reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way, nor have I ever struck any woman in my life."
Years later, Depp filed his defamation lawsuit in response to a 2018 op-ed Heard wrote for the Washington Post about being the victim of domestic violence. The article itself did not mention Depp by name, however, their contentious divorce had been in the news over the previous two years.
"The news of her accusations had sort of permeated the industry and then made its way through media and social media became quite a global, let's say, 'fact,' if you will," Depp testified. "Since I knew that there was no truth to it whatsoever, I felt it my responsibility to stand up, not only for myself in that instance, but stand up for my children."
Depp shares Lily-Rose and Jack, now 22 and 20 respectively, with his ex, Vanessa Paradis.
"It just kept multiplying, it just kept getting bigger and bigger," Depp said. "... I wanted to clear my children of this horrid thing they were having to read about their father, which was untrue."
At the start of the trial, Heard's lawyer, Ben Rottenborn, claimed that the 35-year-old actress suffered abuse that "took many forms," including physical, emotional and psychological, during her marriage to Depp.
Depp's rep refuted the claims in a statement to ET, and the actor's lawyer, Camille Vasquez, alleged during her opening argument that Heard fabricated her claims to elevate her own career and notoriety amid the height of the #MeToo movement. While testifying, Depp said that, with his lawsuit, his "goal is the truth."
"It's been six years of trying times for me. Strange when one day you're Cinderella so to speak and then in 0.6 seconds you're Quasimodo. I didn't deserve that, nor did my children, nor did the people who've believed in me all these years," he said. "I didn't want those people to believe that I had done the wrong or lied to them or was a fraud. I pride myself on honesty. I pride myself on truth. Truth is the only thing I'm interested in. Lies will get you nowhere."
Depp said that, though he's "obsessed with the truth," the decision to testify has been "exposing."
"I was always a very private person, so for me to come up here on the stand before you... and spill the truth is quite exposing," he said. "It's unfortunate that it's not only exposing for myself, it's exposing for my family, it's exposing for Ms. Heard. It never had to go in this direction. I can't say that I'm embarrassed, because I know that I'm doing the right thing."
Before discussing his relationship with Heard, Depp spoke about his childhood. Christi Dembrowski, Depp's sister and personal manager, previously testified that she witnessed Depp being physically abused and hurt by their mother, and claimed that Depp swore to never perpetrate that sort of violence. During his own testimony, Depp alleged he suffered "constant" physical abuse at the hands of his mother when he was a child.
"She had the ability to be as cruel as anyone can be with all of us... Essentially she could become quite violent, and she was quite violent and she was quite cruel. There was physical abuse, certainly, which could be in the form of an ashtray being thrown at you... or you'd get beat with a high heel shoe or telephone or whatever's handy," he claimed. "In our house, we were never exposed to any type of safety or security. The only thing that one could do really was to try to stay out of the line of fire. I started to be able to observe and I could start to see when she was about to head into a situation where she was going to get riled up and somebody was going to get it, generally it was me."
In addition to physical abuse, Depp alleged that "there was quite a lot of verbal abuse, there was quite a lot of name calling, bullying, making fun of whatever defect one might have."
"The verbal abuse, the psychological abuse, was almost worse than the beatings," he alleged. "The beatings were just physical pain. The physical pain you learn to deal with, you learn to accept it... but the psychological and emotional abuse, that's kind of what tore us up, I think."
During Dembrowski's testimony, she also claimed that she had not seen a reason to believe that Depp struggled with drugs or alcohol abuse. Depp testified that he first took his mother's "nerve pills" at age 11, the same age he was introduced to marijuana.
Depp took the pills, he said, "to escape caring so much, feeling so much. To escape the chaotic nature of what we were living through."
Despite his past drug use and an admitted addiction to Roxicodone, which he was prescribed following an on-set injury, Depp said that he's "never taken any substance for a party."
"I have taken the substances over the years on and off to numb, to numb myself of the ghosts that were still with me from my youth... It was essentially self-medication," he said. "... I wasn't dropping acid every five minutes. There were many years that I didn't touch a substance or do drugs. There were many years that I didn't have a drink."
"The characterization of my 'substance abuse' that's been delivered by Ms. Heard is grossly embellished and I'm sorry to say, but a lot of it is just plainly false," Depp added. "I think that was an easy target for her to hit, because once you've trusted somebody for a certain amount of years and you've told them all the secrets of your life, that information can of course be used against you, especially if it's teetering on a point that's impossible... I am not some maniac who needs to be high or loaded all the time... There's been no moments where I would've been considered out of control."
Depp next discussed the beginning of his relationship with Heard, whom he met on the set of the 2011 film, The Rum Diary. Apart from one on-set kiss, Depp said his and Heard's relationship didn't start until the movie's promotional tour years later.
"She seemed to be the perfect partner, in a sense, for me," he said of Heard, adding that, at first, "it was as if she was too good to be true."
"She was attentive, she was loving, she was smart, she was kind, she was funny, she was understanding. We had many things in common... music, literature, things of that nature. For that year or year and a half, it was amazing," he said. "There were a couple of things that stuck in my head that I noticed might be a little bit of a dilemma at some point... Within a year or year and a half, she had become another person almost."
As a result of that alleged change in Heard, Depp's longtime pal, Isaac Baruch, previously testified that he received profane texts from Depp regarding his ex in 2016, including one in which the actor said he hoped Heard's "rotting corpse is decomposing in the f**king trunk of a Honda Civic." Another text read, "That c*** ruined such a f**king cool life we had for a while."
"I am ashamed of some of the references made. I'm embarrassed that at the time the heat of the moment, the heat of the pain that I was feeling went to dark places," Depp said of the texts he sent. "... Sometimes pain has to be dealt with with humor, sometimes very dark humor... Words are used to express what you're feeling at the time."
"After the unfortunate words of Ms. Heard made their way into my heart and my head, those are two very opposing things, so you're trying to find the best way to express something to a friend," he added. "Sometimes you're exaggerating something that you've done, just to make him understand, 'I'm on planet question mark here, I don't know what's going on, but I know that I'm in this situation and I know that it cannot continue.'"