Moments after philosophizing about modeling himself after the ideals of a chivalrous Southern gentleman, Kentucky-born actor Johnny Depp read through a series of text messages depicting him as anything but one. Some predated his tumultuous, two-year marriage with Amber Heard, which ended in abuse allegations, a restraining order and litigation on two continents.
On June 11, 2013, Depp and Heard had not yet married when the Pirates of the Caribbean star imagined an elaborate test to see whether she was a witch.
Depp’s exchange with actor Paul Bettany takes the legendary trial by ordeal for accused witches that is seemingly modeled after a famous skit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but has a much more violent and raw edge.
“Lets burn Amber!!!” Depp writes.
Bettany, a Brit, opines that the more “English course of action” would be the drowning test.
“Let’s drown her before we burn her!!!” Depp response. “I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she is dead…”
Depp and Heard would marry in February 2015, a little less than two years later. They divorced in January 2017.
“You wrote that about the woman who would later become your wife,” Heard’s lawyer J. Benjamin Rottenborn in a line that sounded more like a remark than a question.
“Yes, I did,” Depp replied, matter-of-factly.
During his direct examination by his attorney, Depp acknowledged sending text messages that he regrets. He depicted them as the literary flourishes of a man steeped in the arts. He cited gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, poet Allen Ginsberg, songwriter Van Morrison and director Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange as some of his inspirations. His lawyer, however, did not prod him about the details of each communication.
Heard’s attorney picked apartment the messages in detail, including one appearing to call Heard an “idiot cow,” an “ugly cunt,” and a “worthless hooker.”
Repeatedly throughout his communications, Depp refers to his “monster,” sometimes in reference to struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. Depp told a jury that he adopted that name for himself to placate Heard, who allegedly browbeat him into imagining “demons” within him that required restraint.
But Depp conceded during cross-examination that he did not only describe himself as a “monster” in Heard’s presence.
In one message to Elton John, Depp thanked him for help getting sober by writing: “I would have been swallowed up by the monster were it not for you.”
Depp previously testified that the tales of his alcohol and drug-fueled rages were “grossly embellished” by Heard to use against him, a portrait sharply contrasting his text exchanges with musician Marilyn Manson in 2012, referring to “pill and plant stuff.” The jury was shown a photograph of what Heard’s attorney described as four giant bags of marijuana taken in Depp’s recording studio.
“Yes, sir, that is a lot of marijuana,” Depp acknowledged.
Asked about drinking whiskey in the morning, Depp cracked: “Isn’t happy hour any time?”
Whether the quip was helpful to his defense, Depp’s line provoked laughter in the court. The What’s Eating Gilbert Grape star also conceded that the family history that he shared in court was more complicated than he previously had it. Depp and his lawyers have said that his mother abused his passive father and their children, establishing a dysfunctional model for a relationship later replicated with Heard.
“You testified that your dad wasn’t abusive, but that you saw him punch walls when he was in an argument with your mother sometimes right?” Rottenborn asked.
“Excuse me,” Depp replied. “I witnessed my father—the only reaction that would be called a physical reaction from the abuse he was very stoically taking from my mother. I saw him maybe twice, three times, punch a wall. Once, as I said, once he punched the corner of the wall, and I watched his hand and basically shatter.”
“Mr. Depp, your walls weren’t the only thing that your father punched,” Rottenborn said. “Once, he punched you in the face and knocked you down, didn’t he?”
“Yes, when I was 15 years old,” Depp said. “This was this was just before I’d dropped out of high school. One morning, yes. In my mind, I was done with school. So he had asked me to […] take the dog for a walk or something. Or take out the garbage, something menial, something strange. And I just said no. And he and he gave me a he just gave me a quick shot, pretty hefty. And yeah. It rattled my head, rattling the cages.”
Depp’s cross-examination continues.
This is a developing story.
Learn more about the trial and the “Depp Heads” attending it on Law&Crime’s podcast “Objections: with Adam Klasfeld“:
(Screenshot via Law&Crime Network)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]