FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Actor Johnny Depp told jurors on Tuesday he felt compelled to sue his ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation by obsession with the truth after accusing him of domestic violence.
“My focus is on the truth because it killed me that all these people I had met over the years…that these people thought I was an impostor,” he said.
Depp flatly denied ever hitting on Heard, calling the domestic allegations against him disturbing, heinous and “not based on any kind of truth.”
“Nothing like this has ever happened,” Depp told the court.
Alluding to the downfall in his career since Heard brought abuse charges against him, the former ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star said: “It’s been six years of hard times. It’s very strange when a day you are Cinderella, so to speak, and in 0.6 seconds you are Quasimodo.
During the first hour and more of testimony on Tuesday, Depp gave long, conscientious answers to questions about his childhood and early film career, speaking in his deep baritone. After a long answer, he admitted, “I forgot what the original question was.”
But he said he had been waiting six years to tell his side of the story after Heard filed for divorce against him in 2016 and sought a restraining order against him.
The trial began more than a week ago but, before Tuesday, jurors had seen the Hollywood star sitting in silence with his team of lawyers as each side attempted to embarrass the other in a trial which Heard’s attorneys had accurately predicted would turn into a disparaging soap opera.
After denying Heard’s abuse allegations, Depp spoke at length about a childhood in which his mother’s physical abuse was “constant”. The abuse took the form of thrown ashtrays or a high-heeled shoe or phone being used to beat him, Depp said. When he became a father, Depp said, he made sure his children didn’t experience that kind of upbringing.
As for Heard, Depp said she seemed “too good to be true” at the start of their relationship.
“She was caring,” Depp said of the woman he married in 2015. “She loved. She was smart. She was kind. She was funny. She was understanding…We had a lot in common, certain blues music… literature.
But Depp said that in a year and a half, it was like Heard had become a different person.
So far, Depp’s friends, family and employees have testified that Heard was the abuser in the relationship, physically attacking him on multiple occasions. Heard’s former personal assistant testified that Heard spat in his face in a fit of rage.
Meanwhile, jurors saw text messages in which Depp used vulgar language to describe Heard and explained his desire to get revenge on her. Heard’s attorneys said he repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted her, often in situations where he drank so much that he then passed out.
Depp apologized for Tuesday’s text messages, saying they were written in the “heat of the moment” and he was “ashamed of some of the references made”.
Depp said Heard’s claims about his drug addiction were “grossly embellished” and there were no times when he lost control.
“I’m not a freak who needs to be stoned or loaded all the time,” Depp said.
The actor said he was addicted to painkillers, which stemmed from an injury on the set of the fourth ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie. He also said he took his mother’s “nerve pills” when he was a child. And he admitted to taking numerous substances “over the years to numb me from ghosts, specters that were still with me from my youth”.
But Depp said he had detoxed from painkillers and experienced long periods of sobriety over the years.
“The characterization of my ‘addiction’ that was delivered by Ms. Heard is grossly embellished,” Depp said. “And I’m sorry to say this, but a lot of it is just plain wrong. I think that was an easy target for her. Because once you have trusted someone for a number of years and told them all the secrets of your life, this information can of course be used against you.
The lawsuit itself is supposed to be about whether Heard defamed Depp when she wrote a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post about domestic violence. In the article, Heard called herself a “public figure representing domestic violence.”
She never mentioned Depp by name, but Depp and her attorneys said it was a clear reference to charges Heard made in 2016 when the couple divorced and she sought a restraining order. prohibition against him.
Heard’s attorneys, who filed their own counterclaim against Depp, said nothing in the article defaming him. They say the abuse allegations are true and that the damage to Depp’s reputation – which he says got him fired from the lucrative ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film franchise – came from his own bad behavior.
Depp’s testimony is expected to extend through Wednesday. Heard is due to testify later in the trial.
Associated Press writer Ben Finley in Norfolk, Va., contributed to this report.