Hollywood star Johnny Depp is about to learn whether he has won his libel battle with a British tabloid that labelled him a “wife beater”, a verdict that will have a major impact on his reputation and future career.
Depp, 57, famed for his role in films such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Edward Scissorhands, is suing News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun, and one of its journalists, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article that stated he had been violent towards his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, 34.
It also questioned his casting in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie franchise.
During three weeks at London’s Old Bailey in July, Justice Andrew Nicol heard evidence from Depp and Heard about their tempestuous marriage, alleged affairs, his hedonistic lifestyle and battle with drink and drugs, and their furious rows.
Both accused the other of violent outbursts.
They met while making The Rum Diary in 2011 and married four years later, but divorced in 2016.
Depp told the court he was never violent towards his ex-wife, saying he had lost the tip of a finger after she threw a vodka bottle at him during a ferocious row in Australia.
Heard said Depp would turn into a jealous alter ego, “the monster”, after bingeing on drugs and alcohol, often threatening to kill her.
Heard detailed 14 occasions of extreme violence when she alleged the actor choked, punched, slapped, head-butted, throttled and kicked her.
The evidence also included the bizarre allegations Heard had defecated in their bed and Depp had dangled one of her dogs out of a moving car window.
If the judge on Monday morning (9pm AEDT) rules in favour of Depp, he could be awarded between STG300,000 and STG325,000 ($553,000-$599,000).
His lawyers have also argued he should also receive aggravated damages.
If Depp loses, the damage to his reputation may mean he will struggle to land major film parts, commentators say, while Heard’s film career likewise could be in the balance.
Whatever the outcome, the couple’s bitter fallout is set to continue as Depp has also filed a $US50 million ($71 million) defamation lawsuit against Heard in a US court over an opinion piece she wrote in The Washington Post.