Johnny Depp faces questioning in case against ex-wife Amber Heard

By Holly Honderich
BBC News

Published
Image source, Getty Images

Johnny Depp has sought to paint ex-wife Amber Heard as a volatile spouse who abused and demeaned him.

The actor, 58, has sued Ms Heard over an article she wrote saying she was a victim of domestic violence.

Mr Depp has denied any abuse. Ms Heard, 35, has sued him in return, with a $100m (£76m) counterclaim.

In his testimony, Mr Depp said he felt "pure hatred" from Ms Heard. Cross-examination from her lawyers began on Wednesday after two days of testimony.

His testimony is set to resume into a third day on Thursday.

After the romance of their first year together soured, the pair argued regularly, he said, with Ms Heard frequently issuing a "sarcastic, demeaning, aggressive, violent, toxic spew", and occasionally resorting to violence.

"It could begin with a slap," Mr Depp said. "It could begin with throwing a TV remote at my head. It could be throwing a glass of wine in my face."

"She has a need for conflict. She has a need for violence," he said. And in recordings of the former couple played to the jury on Wednesday, Ms Heard can be heard admitting she "did start a physical fight" with Mr Depp.

Mr Depp also recalled a now-infamous incident between him and his former wife, in which he found "human fecal matter" on his side of the bed in the flat he shared with Ms Heard.

"It was so bizarre and so grotesque, that I could only laugh," he said.

Ms Heard has denied that she or any of her friends left human excrement on the bed, testifying in Mr Depp's 2018 defamation trial in the UK that the idea was "absolutely disgusting".

Jurors in the closely watched civil trial, which is taking place in Virginia, have heard two wildly different accounts of Mr Depp and Ms Heard's relationship.

Lawyers for Ms Heard have so far worked to portray Mr Depp as a physically and sexually abusive partner prone to drug and alcohol binges.

Mr Depp addressed his drug and alcohol use on Wednesday, saying he had become addicted to prescription opioids after receiving Roxycodone for a back injury.

The actor testified that while detoxing from the drugs, Ms Heard withheld medication from him that would have relieved symptoms of withdrawal because she said it was not time for the next dose.

The actor said he rolled on the floor, in tears, and begged. "I hate saying this, having to admit this, but that was about the lowest point in my life."

Image source, Getty Images

At the scene - David Sillito, BBC News, Virginia

As Johnny Depp settled down for day two on the witness stand there was only the briefest glance across the court towards where his ex-wife Amber Heard was sitting.

Throughout it all she sat watching intently, occasionally writing a few notes as Mr Depp began to describe his views about their relationship - a relationship she says was violent and abusive.

On day one of his testimony, his answers at the beginning had been marked by hesitations and long searches for the right words.

The Johnny Depp of day two was immediately rather more fluent as he described how their marriage disintegrated and how he felt her behaviour had become controlling and belittling.

It was, he said, an "endless parade of insults and looking at me like I was a fool".

"I was not allowed a voice."

The reason for the long description on the previous day of his problematic relationship with his mother now began to make sense. The criticisms from Ms Heard and his responses to it made him realise he was in a relationship with his "mother".

There was a little smile as he reflected on what he had said.

He also talked about celebrity and the impossibility of dealing with everything that was written about him.

"Your arms are too short to box with God," he said.

His drinking was, he said, a means of dealing with the pain of the relationship. It was Ms Heard who would strike him, he claimed. He would retreat, booking extra rooms when they were travelling so he had a place to escape.

As they rose for recess, he looked straight ahead.

Ms Heard watched, her face giving nothing away.

Her side of the story is yet to be told.

Under cross-examination, Ms Heard's lawyer Ben Rottenborn had Mr Depp confirm that his name is not mentioned in the 2018 op-ed in question.

"I think that it's very easy to write a piece and put the finger on someone without saying their name," Mr Depp replied.

"There are sneaky ways of writing things."

The lawyer also asked why Mr Depp did not sue after Ms Heard accused him of assault in a restraining order two years earlier, in May 2016.

"I was advised by my attorney not to fight," Mr Depp said.

Mr Rottenborn additionally introduced into evidence a divorce document the couple signed in August 2016 that stated: "Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain."

The defamation trial is now into its second week.

Earlier, the jury heard evidence presented by the celebrity ex-couple's former therapist, who described how Mr Depp and Ms Heard engaged in "mutual abuse", as well as from medical workers who treated Mr Depp as he was detoxing himself from opiates.

Several high profile witnesses, including the entrepreneur Elon Musk and the actors James Franco and Paul Bettany, are to appear later in the trial, which is expected to last at least another month.