The film on which they met: Depp and Heard at the premiere of The Rum Diary in 2011
Once he was the coolest anti-hero in Hollywood. Now, Johnny Depp is aiming to clear his name of allegations that he beat second wife Amber Heard in a sensational High Court case that starts in London next week.
Depp, 57, who is understood to be in Paris with former partner Vanessa Paradis and their two children, Lily Rose, 21, and Jack, 18, is suing The Sun newspaper for libel after it described him as a ‘wife beater’ in April 2018.
The three-week trial is due to start on Tuesday and will pitch him against bisexual actress Amber Heard. She is claiming that Depp hit and choked her while in the grip of addictions to drugs and alcohol.
Depp’s team, however, contend that she has simply made up all her accounts of assault. In fact, they say that she assaulted him.
The pre-trial hearing has proved explosive with claims that Depp begged his assistant for ‘happy pills’ and ‘whitey stuff’ — which lawyers claim meant ecstasy and cocaine — days before he allegedly assaulted his wife.
The legal documents, seen by this newspaper, make for compelling reading. In them, Amber, 34, is called a ‘Gone Girl’ — a reference to the 2012 thriller by Gillian Flynn (and later movie) in which a wife goes missing and leaves a trail of faked evidence which frames her husband for her murder.
So what are the allegations against Depp — now filed in greater number and detail than ever before — and how will he respond?
Here is the story of the trial, which is set to be the showbiz sensation of the year.
Stormy romance hits the rocks
Depp and Heard met in 2011 when she was cast as his love interest in the film The Rum Diary. They were first romantically linked in June 2012, just as Depp was splitting from Vanessa Paradis, his partner of 14 years.
They were married in February 2015 on Depp’s private Caribbean island.
The couple ran into trouble in April 2015 during the filming of Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales after being caught trying to smuggle their dogs, Pistol and Boo, illegally into Australia on a private jet.
Heard filed a restraining order against Depp a month later, saying she was ‘extremely afraid’ of the star. Allegations surfaced that he had hit her, and she appeared in public with a bruised face.
Their divorce became final in early 2017, Heard receiving a £5.3 million settlement — paltry against Depp’s reputed £400 million fortune. She also had to pay her own legal fees.
A painting ‘in flames’
Amber Heard and Tasya Van Ree are pictured above
She said: In March 2013, Depp was ‘getting drunk and high on drugs’ when he became angry as Heard had hung up a painting by female photographer Tasya van Ree whom she had dated.
He tried to ‘set fire to the painting’, then allegedly hit Amber so hard ‘that blood from her lip ended up on the wall’.
He also shook her and shoved her into a wall. Depp later referred to what happened in a text as a ‘disco bloodbath’.
He said: The signed painting was hanging by her bed.
‘The claimant asked Ms Heard, as a courtesy, if she would move the painting somewhere else.’
He denies hitting, grabbing, shaking or shoving her or attempting to set fire to the painting.
That ‘whitey stuff’ text
A pre-trial skirmish ended badly for Depp after a judge ruled that he had breached a High Court order by not disclosing text messages which showed that he was seeking to buy drugs.
Mr Justice Nicol said that the texts — dated from shortly before the alleged assault in Australia — should have been disclosed. In the texts from 2015, Depp pleads with assistant Nathan Holmes to supply him with drugs.
‘We should have more happy pills!!! Can you?’ he asks.
Subsequently he asks: ‘Need more whitey stuff ASAP brotherman . . . and the e-business!!! Please I’m in a bad bad shape. Say NOTHING to NOBODY!!!!’
A pre-trial skirmish ended badly for Depp after a judge ruled that he had breached a High Court order by not disclosing text messages which showed that he was seeking to buy drugs
Drugs and ‘the monster’
She said: In documents filed at the High Court, it is said that Depp was ‘controlling verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs’.
The document goes on: ‘In early 2013, Ms Heard and the claimant (Depp) were in Los Angeles when he first hit her. During a conversation about a tattoo, Ms Heard laughed at something the claimant had said as she thought he had made a joke. The claimant responded by repeatedly slapping Ms Heard across the face.
‘The third hit knocked Ms Heard to the floor . . .the claimant cried, apologised and tried to explain his behaviour saying he snaps sometimes into something he called ‘the monster’ and promised he would not do it again.’
He said: In his witness statement for the trial, Depp said he and Heard ‘took drugs together’, including MDMA, magic mushrooms and cocaine but said: ‘I never suffered with addiction from those drugs. Nor did any drug or alcohol ever make me undertake violence against anyone.’
He denies hitting or slapping her, adding: ‘The claimant confined himself to drinking wine and using marijuana, having been sober from around December 2011 to August 2012.’
A set-to on a private plane
She said: In May 2014, they were travelling from Boston to LA when he threw objects at her head, pushed a chair at her as she walked by, yelled at her, slapped her in the face and kicked her in the back. When she fell over, he threw his boot at her. ‘The claimant continued to scream obscenities until he went to the bathroom of the plane and passed out.’
He then sent her a text message explaining his ‘shame and regret’.
He said: Depp says he was sketching while she ‘harangued’ him before he went to sleep on the floor of the plane’s locked bathroom.
Trouble in rehab paradise
She said: In the Bahamas in August 2014 they were trying to ‘help the claimant reduce his dependency on prescription painkillers and drugs’. Depp kicked a door so hard it splintered. He pushed her to the ground, slapped her and grabbed her by the hair.
He said: The trip was ‘to cure his dependence on painkillers and not other drugs’. Depp says he was frequently sedated because of the ‘physically painful process of withdrawal’. He says he did not assault her. He asked her to leave him alone and paid for her and her friends to stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The photograph of the splintered door was not, he says, taken in the Bahamas.
‘Why be a fraud? All is such bull’
She said: During a row in December 2015 at their penthouse apartment in Los Angeles, Depp threw a decanter at her, slapped her and dragged her by her hair, pulling ‘large chunks of hair and scalp’ out of her head.
He then allegedly hit her repeatedly, knocking her to the floor, yelling, ‘Oh you think you’re a f***ing tough guy’ when she stood up. He then headbutted her, and a few days later described this as giving her ‘a little knock with my head’.
She told him she would leave him and he again grabbed her by the hair and slapped her in the face, before punching her in the head ‘with a closed fist’ shouting that he hated her. He wrote a message on their kitchen counter-top which said: ‘Why be a fraud? All is such bull****.’
He said: Depp says, ‘Ms Heard fabricated the alleged violence . . . the only violence committed on that date was by Ms Heard. She violently attacked the claimant leaving him with scratches and swelling on his face. The day after the alleged incident, Ms Heard had no visible injuries on her face.’
Bruising? Marks that Heard claims Depp inflicted in December 2015
Drugs, blood and a message in urine
She said: In Australia in 2015, Heard outlines a ‘three-day ordeal of physical assault’. She says her injuries included a broken lip, swollen nose and cuts all over her body.
One argument began after Depp took out a bag of MDMA (ecstasy). She says he slapped and shoved her, and he stayed up all night taking drugs and boozing.
The next day he ‘grabbed her by the neck’. That night he repeatedly shoved her up against the refrigerator in the kitchen, grabbed her by the neck, ‘slammed her against the counter-top and strangled her’.
He also smashed a telephone, which led to the top of his finger being sliced off. The next morning she came down to find messages written ‘in a combination of oil paint and the blood from his finger. He had also urinated all over the house’.
He said: The argument began because Depp wanted to file a post-nuptial agreement which ’caused Ms Heard to go into a prolonged and extreme rage’. He was seeking refuge from her ‘in locked bathrooms’.
He had not had a drink in over a year and ‘did not grab or hurt Ms Heard in any way’. He says she threw two bottles at him, one of which smashed against his finger, ‘severing the top of his finger and fracturing multiple bones in it. Ms Heard then put a cigarette out on the claimant’s right cheek’.
He admits to writing on a mirror and walls in blood and oil paint but denies urinating.
Shocking end to a birthday party
She said: The couple argued in April 2016 after he arrived late to a birthday celebration she was having with friends. He threw a ‘magnum-sized’ bottle of champagne against her that missed and hit a wall before locking her in a bedroom and shoving her to the floor. Documents claim: ‘The claimant left Ms Heard a note which said: ‘Happy F*****g Birthday.’ ‘
He said: Depp says she punched him twice in the face as he was reading a book in bed, and twice more after he stood up. He ‘pushed her away from him and told her he was leaving’.
The final fight
She said: In May 2016, Depp arrived at their apartment in New York ‘drunk and high’ and ‘very angry’. He threw a phone at her, ‘striking her cheek and eye’, and her friends took photographs of the injury and items which he had smashed in a rage.
‘The claimant started to slap, shake and yank Ms Heard around the room while she continued to scream.’
His security team arrived, and Depp allegedly carried on smashing items and kicked a hole in a door.
He said: Depp’s team deny that he was drunk or high when he arrived to fetch some of his belongings. He brought two of his security team ‘because he was concerned about what Ms Heard might do’.
He says he tossed the phone on a sofa ’20 ft away’ from her. ‘Nor did he pull Ms Heard’s hair or strike her, grab her face or touch her . . . Two police officers who attended the apartment directly after the alleged incident and interviewed Ms Heard twice in good light saw no injuries or bruising or swelling to Ms Heard’s face.’
Gone Girl and ‘therapy tapes’
An interim judgment released by Mr Justice Andrew Nicol of the High Court refers to audio-tape recordings of fights between the couple in which Heard says ‘I can’t promise I won’t get physical again’ and admits to hitting him with pots and pans.
There is another tape, again referring to violence, in which she can be heard calling Depp ‘a baby’ and telling him: ‘Grow the f*** up.’
Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman sent an email to Heard’s team which said: ‘When we last met, you said Amber Heard would have to be ‘Gone Girl’ [film pictured] for the abuse allegations to be false. One audio tape (plus a mountain of other evidence) has shown her to be so.’
Actress Amanda de Cadenet has dropped her support for Heard. She said: ‘When the first tape was released, and I heard Amber being verbally abusive to Johnny, I was horrified.’
Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman sent an email to Heard’s team which said: ‘When we last met, you said Amber Heard would have to be ‘Gone Girl’ [film pictured above] for the abuse allegations to be false. One audio tape (plus a mountain of other evidence) has shown her to be so.’