Amber Heard Admits on Stand to Striking Johnny Depp During Fights
Depp’s attorney, Camille Vasquez, set the tone from the jump as she attempted to frame Heard as the physically aggressive party in the marriage, playing numerous recordings that appeared to demonstrate Heard taunting Depp’s age and career, calling him a “sellout.” Another recording was referenced in which Heard said that she hopes his son Jack’s new stepfather can teach him how to be a man, as Depp cannot.
“You’re a joke,” she said in one recording, laughing as she sarcastically added, “If only I could be like you.”
Heard appeared to become personally offended when Vasquez suggested that Depp was responsible for her getting her role in Aquaman. “No, I got myself that role by auditioning,” she said.
Vasquez showed the court text messages and played a recording of what she termed Heard’s “incessant” requests that Depp not leave in the heat of an argument. In response, the actress said she often tried to stop her husband — whom she referred to as “the monster” in the messages — from leaving out of fear that he would go do drugs.
“This is what would happen when Johnny would move into the next cycle — he decided to use, and our lives would get a lot worse,” she said. “I was trying to stop him from using…I would try everything to stop the cycle. It was that important to me.”
But Vasquez shot back, saying Heard wasn’t calling Depp a “monster” for doing drugs but simply for needing space. “I need space… I’m getting frustrated… I will take my space, and you will take your space,” Depp said in the recording. “We will speak to each other in a couple of hours.”
Heard replied on the tape in tears: “You’re causing me immense stress right now when you walk away… I’m begging you to stop.”
Heard also admitted to striking Depp on multiple occasions but insisted that every instance of violence was self-defense. “There are many times I had to use my body to defend myself, and that included slapping wherever I could,” she said. “If it meant I could get away, absolutely, or the difference between a sore face and a broken nose… I tried to defend myself when I could, but it was after years of not defending myself.”
In one example, the court played an audio clip in which Heard told Depp she “meant” to hit him as they argued about a bathroom door that Depp claimed hit him on the head. In response, Heard said she reacted instinctively at the time after Depp pushed the door into her toes, hurting her.
Vasquez later brought up Heard’s ex-partner, Tasya van Ree, and a previous domestic violence allegation. (Heard was arrested for hitting van Ree at Seattle Airport in 2009, but the charges were eventually dropped.)
“I’ve never assaulted Mr. Depp or anyone else that I’ve been romantically linked to, ever,” she responded.
Much of Tuesday’s testimony featured a tense back and forth between Heard and Depp’s attorney, with the lawyer often interrupting Heard as the actress attempted to argue nearly every question directed her way. While both women maintained their composure throughout the afternoon, it was clear that neither planned on backing down.
At one point, Vasquez presented the court with a knife Heard had gifted Depp during the early days of their relationship in 2012, a time period during which she has previously alleged abuse occurred. Vasquez questioned why Heard would give a weapon to Depp when he was already allegedly abusing her.
“I wasn’t worried he was going to stab me with it when I gave it to him,” Heard replied. “That’s for certain.”
But much of Vasquez’s early questioning focused on the alleged multiday assault in Australia that Heard has claimed culminated with Depp pinning her on a kitchen countertop and vaginally penetrating her with a liquor bottle. Attempting to undermine Heard’s credibility and her recollection of the fight, Vasquez challenged the actress’ assertion that Depp was able to assault her after severing the top of his finger.
Heard remained firm that all of the alleged incidents did occur, but acknowledged that she does not remember an exact timeline of the fight.
“I have never claimed that I can remember an exact sequence of these things,” she said. “This was a multiday assault that took place over three horrible days.”
Vasquez also challenged the “serious injuries” Heard said she sustained during the fight, including cuts on her forearms and feet from shattered glass and a bruise across her jaw.
“Having a sore jaw and some bruises at that time in my relationship wasn’t that serious,” Heard said, later confirming that she did not photograph any of her injuries and never sought medical treatment. Instead, Heard photographed only specific items from the scene, rarely her injuries or the most damning evidence (such as a phone she claimed was smashed, or pillows she said had been bloodied) — a practice Depp’s lawyer referred to as “convenient” and continued to point to when discussing other abuse allegations.
After playing audio of a conversation between the former couple, in which Depp said that Heard had continued to pursue him after he separated himself into a bathroom during the Australia fight, Depp’s lawyer asked, “You weren’t scared of him at all, were you?”
“I have a mixed relationship with Johnny, one in which I’m scared, one in which I love him very much,” Heard said. “This is a man who tried to kill me. Of course, it’s scary.”
Vasquez then turned her attention to a series of letters Heard wrote Depp throughout their relationship in a shared journal between the two. Pointing to a “love letter” written two months after the Australia fight and shortly after Heard claimed that Depp had attempted to throw her sister down a flight of stairs, Heard wrote, “I have seen in you the true bones of friendship and respect. But of course, I still perhaps more than ever want to rip you apart, devour you and savor the taste.”
Heard testified that she wrote the letter during their relationship’s “honeymoon phase” after Depp had gotten sober. She also defended several other letters in which she apologized to the actor for her behavior. In one letter, she wrote, “I can get crazy. I’m sorry. I hurt you…I am so sorry for my part. None of this is meant to be an excuse for hurting you because the truth is nothing is there is never a reason good enough to hurt you.”
“I was always trying to fix [things]. I think it’s important in any relationship to apologize when you’re trying to move past fights,” Heard explained of the letters. “I tried everything … I couldn’t change my relationship.”
Depp’s lawyer also presented elevator footage of actor James Franco visiting the actress at her penthouse. The surveillance video was played to jurors in the courthouse, which showed the pair getting into an elevator together just ahead of 11 p.m. on May 22, 2018. Heard was asked if she knew Depp would be out of town when she invited Franco over. She denied knowing his schedule at the time.
“[James] was my friend, and he lived next door. I had frankly exhausted my support network with my usual friends and was happy to welcome as much friendship at that time as I could possibly get,” Heard later explained.
Turning her attention to the 2018 Washington Post op-ed at the center of this case, Vasquez tried to push Heard into admitting that the article was about Depp. Instead, Heard said the article was about powerful men, sexual assault, and issues related to the #MeToo movement prevalent at the time — and not just about Depp.
“It is not about him,” she said. “It’s not about Johnny. It’s about what happened to me after [the relationship]…that was the more interesting thing for me to write about, at the time.”
She added: “I wrote this op-ed in the context of many men at the time that were public figures, or in the public, [and] had been accused as well, so it was a reference in general to a larger phenomenon, not just Johnny.”
Pointing to three specific statements made by Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman, on which Heard’s counterclaim is based, Vasquez said the actress had no way of linking the statements to negative impacts on her career. Heard disagreed, saying she was dropped from multiple ongoing projects, including the end of a L’Oréal contract, press obligations for The Stand, and a rewritten role in the Aquaman sequel.
“They couldn’t use me because of all of the online attention that the article generated,” she said. “There’s been an orchestrated smear campaign [against me]. Just look me up.”
When asked if she lost any jobs due to Waldman’s statements, Heard said: “It’s kind of hard to point to the jobs you’re not offered, to the gigs you don’t get.” And while she said she “fought” to keep her role in the upcoming Aquaman 2 film, she doesn’t know how much she’s “actually in the final cut.”
While Heard’s cross-examination took up most of the day in court, Heard’s team completed their redirect later in the afternoon — though Depp’s team objected to almost every question. Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, began by asking why the actress thought Depp had refused to look her in the eye throughout the trial.
“Because he’s guilty,” she said. “He knows he’s lying. Why can’t he look at me? I survived that man, and I’m here, and I’m able to look at him.”
Depp cracked a smile during Heard’s statement.
Closing arguments are expected to occur on May 27, with a verdict likely coming after Memorial Day weekend.