Actor Johnny Depp has concluded a gruelling four days on the witness stand, telling jurors he filed his libel lawsuit against his ex-wife because it was his best chance to reclaim his reputation, just hours after they heard audio clips of him berating his wife with coarse vulgarities.
“It was the only time I was able to fight back and use my own voice,” Depp said of his decision to sue Amber Heard for a 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post in which she refers to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.
Depp continued to deny he ever hit Heard and accused her of hitting him and throwing items including paint cans and vodka bottles at him. And jurors heard audio of a conversation between Depp and Heard in which she seems to taunt him and suggests he will not be believed or respected if he were to publicly cast her as an abuser.
“Tell them, I, Johnny Depp, I’m a victim of domestic abuse … and see how many people believe or side with you,” Heard says on the recording.
Earlier on Monday, though, they heard recordings in which Depp referred to the violence that could ensue if their arguments were allowed to escalate.
“The next move, if I don’t walk away … it’s going to be a bloodbath, like it was on the island,” Depp says.
In other clips, Depp loudly shouts vulgarities at his wife, calling her a degrading name and yelling, “You stupid f—” at her.
Depp winced on the stand as one of the clips was played. Heard appeared to fight back tears as she listened to the recordings.
Heard’s op-ed did not mention Depp by name. He argues he was defamed because parts of the piece clearly referred to allegations of abuse she made in 2016 when she filed for divorce and obtained a temporary restraining order.
The clips were part of a cross-examination of Depp that began last week and concluded late on Monday morning (US time).
While the libel lawsuit is supposed to centre on whether Depp was defamed in the article, most of the trial has focused on ugly details of the couple’s brief marriage. Heard’s lawyers say Depp physically and sexually abused her and that Depp’s denials lack merit because he was often drunk and high to the point of blacking out.
On redirect, Depp sought to explain some of his coarse language. He said he was often speaking figuratively or making inside jokes with friends, but added, “I’m ashamed that that has to be spread on the world like peanut butter”.
He again denied he cut off his own finger during a fight with Heard, even though he told people as much at the time. He now says the finger was severed when Heard threw a vodka bottle at him.
Depp called the drug addiction accusations against him “grossly embellished”, though he acknowledged taking many drugs.
The actor said the Post article contributed to an unfairly ruined reputation that made him a Hollywood outcast and cost him his role in the lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. Heard’s lawyers say only Depp is to blame for his marred career.