Amber Heard returns to the stand: Inside day 3 of her testimony in Johnny Depp defamation trial
Amber Heard returned to the stand after a weeklong break in Johnny Depp's defamation trial against her on Monday, finishing her testimony before a heated cross-examination that touched on allegations of domestic abuse, the divorce settlement money she promised to donate to charities, and a coordinated smear campaign Depp allegedly launched against her after she obtained a restraining order against him.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed she penned chronicling her experiences as a domestic violence survivor. Though Heard never mentioned Depp by name in the piece, his lawyers argue that references to their client (and Heard's previous abuse allegations following their 2017 divorce) are clear, and that they damaged Depp's career and reputation. Heard has filed a $100 million countersuit, alleging Depp and his legal team defamed her by calling her allegations false.
Below are key moments from Heard's third day of testimony.
Heard addresses audio of her admitting to hitting Depp
Various audio recordings of Heard and Depp have been shared in court as evidence throughout the trial. In one, Heard admits to striking Depp: "You didn't get punched. You got hit. I'm sorry I hit you like this, but I did not punch you," she can be heard saying in the recording. "I did not f---ing deck you. I f---ing was hitting you. I don't know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you're fine. I did not hurt you. I did not punch you. I was hitting you." She adds, "I'm not sitting here bitching about it, am I?… Grow the f--- up, Johnny."
While on the stand, Heard said she would "reactively" hit Depp after he allegedly threw punches. "When I'm talking about hitting him, I'm talking about — what that conversation is about is the disparity," she testified. "The disparity between Johnny and I in our fights, the disparity of how he would proactively punch me and I would have to resort to reactively hitting him. I'm talking about the difference between a punch, which Johnny did often, and me having to hit him in my defense." Heard later added, "I know the difference between those two, and I'm highlighting the difference between those two. Even if he wasn't twice my size, they're very different, and that's what I'm pointing out to him."
Heard details alleged abuse beginning on their honeymoon
In emotional testimony, Heard accused Depp of slapping her, punching her, throwing a phone at her, and wrapping his shirt around her neck during various points in their relationship. When Depp discovered Heard had a sex scene in 2018's London Fields opposite Billy Bob Thornton, he insisted on watching a screener at his remote estate in France, Heard testified. "Johnny freaked out because it looked like me," she said. "They had used a body double, unbeknownst to me, without my permission."
Heard continued, "I have an incredibly jealous man who already is upset with me for breaking the rule that I had a sex scene. On top of that, I'm telling him it wasn't me; I didn't shoot that scene." An "irate" Depp called Heard a "liar and a whore, among other things," she told the court, claiming it ignited a "week from hell" wherein Depp slapped and punched her.
Depp also allegedly got violent during their honeymoon in 2015 following an argument over his drinking. "He would slam me up against the wall," Heard said, adding that she'd claw at him to get his arms away from her neck. She shared fears that Depp would kill her, alleging that he once tore the lapels off his shirt and wrapped "it around my neck, and that's how I woke up the next morning."
Heard denies leaving poop on Depp's side of the bed
Heard denied Depp's allegations that she left human feces on his side of the bed following an argument in 2016. Depp recalled the "grotesque" moment that his security guard, Sean Bett, sent him a photo of the feces during his testimony last month. He testified that he wanted out of the marriage, but when he asked to retrieve his belongings at their shared residence while Heard was away, Bett advised that it wasn't a good time to swing by.
"He showed me a photograph on his telephone of… it was a photograph of our bed, and on my side of the bed was human fecal matter," Depp testified. "My initial response to that was, I mean… I laughed. It was so outside. It was so bizarre and so grotesque that I could only laugh. So I did not go down there that day." Depp said when he confronted Heard about it, she blamed their teacup Yorkie, Boo, but he wasn't convinced.
"They're teacup Yorkies," he said. "They weigh about 4 pounds each. The photograph that I saw — I lived with those dogs for many years. It was not the dogs… I didn't feel like I deserved that kind of treatment." Heard pushed back in court, saying that when the dog was a puppy, it got into Depp's marijuana stash and ate so much weed that its bowels were permanently damaged. Asked if she left the feces as a prank, Heard said, "Absolutely not. First of all, I don't think that's funny. I was not in a pranking mood. My life was falling apart. I had just been attacked on my 30th birthday… it was not really a jovial time, and I don't think that's funny, period."
Heard explains why she hasn't fulfilled her promise to donate her full divorce settlement to charity
Amid their divorce in 2016, Heard pledged the full $7 million settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union and Children's Hospital Los Angeles, saying the donation proved she didn't marry Depp for his money. Heard promised to split the settlement, donating $3.5 million to each organization. Terence Dougherty, the ACLU's general counsel, previously testified in a pre-recorded deposition that as of December 2021, the ACLU had only received $1.3 million in Heard's name. While Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who Heard briefly dated in 2017, donated $500,000 to both charities in her name, Heard testified that she has not yet fulfilled the pledges in their entirety due to her ongoing legal battle with Depp.
"I fully intend to honor my pledges," Heard testified to her attorney. "I would love [Depp] to stop suing me so I can." Depp's lawyer pushed back against Heard's financial troubles during cross-examination, noting that she received the settlement about a year before Depp sued her for defamation. "I disagree with your characterization," Heard said after a contentious back-and-forth over the difference between a "pledge" and a "donation." "I didn't want anything and I didn't get anything," Heard said of Depp's finances. "I was being called a liar, and my motives were being questioned."
Heard denies publishing her op-ed to benefit Aquaman debut
Heard pushed back on prior testimony from Dougherty that her 2018 op-ed, which the ACLU helped draft and place, was timed to capitalize on the debut of Aquaman that year. "From the ACLU's perspective," Dougherty said, "Amber is about to receive an incredible amount of press and be in the public eye, so what better a time would it be than now to put out this op-ed so that it generates significant readership about our issues."
While Heard reiterated Dougherty's testimony that the piece was written to raise awareness of domestic violence, she denied that it was timed to help sell Aquaman tickets. A film's box office success, Heard testified, is generally "not aided by a major op-ed." She added, "I believed in some of the causes that the op-ed was seeking to advance. There was a lot of attention and energy around gender-based issues. I recently became an ambassador for the ACLU and [wanted] to lend my voice to a great cause."
Heard also denied that she initially wanted to include Depp's name in the piece. That claim came in opposition to Dougherty's previous testimony that Heard originally included Depp's name and only removed it after a suggestion from her editors. Dougherty testified that the actress sent back a revised version approved by her lawyers which featured nixed copy that referred to her marriage with Depp. Heard said of the op-ed, "I was happy to weigh in on what I saw as unique phenomena that women experience when they come forward against someone more powerful and speak up about gender-based violence."
Heard accuses Depp of orchestrating a PR 'smear campaign' that cost her jobs
Heard accused her ex-husband of creating a "sophisticated PR machine" to orchestrate a "smear campaign" against her after filing a domestic violence restraining order against him amid their divorce. At the time, one of Depp's attorneys, Adam Waldman, gave interviews to various outlets accusing Heard of faking her allegations and perpetuating a "sexual violence hoax." As a result, Heard said she had to "fight hard" to keep her jobs, including roles in 2017's Justice League and the upcoming Aquaman 2.
"I had to fight really hard to keep my career after I got my [restraining order against Depp]," Heard said. "I lost opportunities. I got dropped from jobs and campaigns. I fought to keep my job and the biggest movie opportunity I had to date [with] Justice League with the option to [appear in] Aquaman." Heard later said her role in Aquaman 2 was "pared down" after the fallout of her split from Depp.
"I was given a script and then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it, that depicted my character and another character, without giving any spoilers away, two characters fighting with one another, and they basically took a bunch out of my role," Heard testified. "They just removed a bunch out." (A rep for Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment Monday.)
Heard also said her two-year contract with beauty brand L'Oreal and role on The Stand, a 2020 Paramount+ drama series based on the Stephen King novel, were impacted. Heard testified that her L'Oreal contract was extended only by a few months and her promotional appearances limited, while shoots related to promoting The Stand were canceled. The actress said her only project since then has been a lower-budget independent film, In the Fire.
Heard returns to the stand for a fourth day Tuesday in Fairfax, Va.