Johnny Depp surrounded himself with an entourage of enablers to shield him from the consequences of his drug and alcohol use, his ex-wife Amber Heard testified Thursday.
Heard was back on the witness stand to defend herself against her ex-husband’s libel allegations.
Depp is suing Heard for libel over an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His lawyers say he was defamed by the 2018 article even though it never mentioned his name.
Heard told jurors about photos she took of Depp starting in 2013 in which he was passed out. She said she took the photos because Depp couldn’t remember what he’d done when he was drunk, and denied what had occurred while he was blacked out.
“He wouldn’t remember, or he would deny it. There was no one to back me up,” she said.
She also gave her description of an incident that has already come up at trial, a May 2014 plane ride from Boston to Los Angeles. According to Heard, Depp was jealous and irate that she was making a movie with actor James Franco that included a kissing scene.
“He hated, hated James Franco,” she said.
As soon Depp stepped into the private plane, he began berating her about Franco, she said. She got up and walked away, but Depp followed her. At one point, he slapped her. Later, she said, she kicked him, and not one person on board intervened on her behalf.
“I felt this boot in my back,” she said. “I fell to the floor. And no one said anything. No one did anything. You could have heard a pin drop. I just remember feeling so embarrassed.”
Depp, who testified earlier in the trial, described the incident differently. He denied that he’d drank excessively before getting on the plane, and said Heard initiated an argument and pursued him until he felt compelled to hide in a bathroom.
But jurors heard a recording Heard made toward the end of the incident, in which it sounds like Depp is howling and babbling incoherently. And the jury has seen a text message Depp sent his friend Paul Bettany shortly after the flight, in which he says he’s going to “properly stop the booze thing” because the flight got “ugly.” He also texted Bettany saying, “I’m admittedly too f——- in the head to spray my rage at the one I love for little reason as well.”
Heard has testified that she was physically and sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by Depp, typically when he was drunk or high on drugs. Depp has denied ever hitting her, but Heard’s lawyers have said his denials lack credibility in part because he can’t remember what he’s done when he blacks out.
Depp has said Heard greatly exaggerates his drinking, and that he tolerates his liquor well. Friends, family and employees of Depp have taken the stand and backed up his contention.
But Heard said that’s part of the problem: She said Depp has a team around him that cleans him up when he gets sick, and enables him to go about his business without acknowledging the consequences of his drinking.
Heard is expected to be on the stand all day Thursday in Fairfax County Circuit Court.