How actress Ellen Barkin is connected to Johnny Depp's defamation trial against Amber Heard
Heard is being sued for $50 million by ex-husband Johnny Depp over her 2018 Washington Post op-ed chronicling her experiences as a domestic violence survivor. Though Heard never mentions Depp by name, his lawyers argue that references to their client (and Heard's previous abuse allegations following their 2017 divorce) are clear. The op-ed, Depp's team claim, has damaged the actor's career and reputation.
Heard filed a $100 million countersuit, claiming Depp and his legal team defamed her by calling her allegations false. After Depp's four days behind the stand, Heard began her testimony last week and will resume Monday. Next week, Heard's sister, Whitney, will take the stand, as well as Barkin. The Drop Dead Gorgeous star joins a roster of celebrities featured in Heard's witness list, including former costar James Franco and ex-boyfriend Elon Musk. Those two, however, aren't expected to testify.
But what is Barkin's connection to the defamation suit?
Barkin had a brief relationship with Depp in the 1990s. They met while working on the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Barkin previously testified in Depp's libel lawsuit against The Sun, wherein the actor took the British newspaper to court over their use of the term "wife beater" in an article centered on Heard's abuse allegations. (The actor lost the lawsuit.) Barkin accused Depp of being verbally abusive during the course of their relationship, also alleging that he once threw a wine bottle across a hotel room during an argument with friends.
The actress testified that Depp was never physically abusive towards her, but maintained that he had bouts of violence. In court in London, Depp testified that Barkin called him abusive because she held a "grudge" against him. "A sexual element began with Ms. Barkin which lasted for months on and off really because she was making the film I was making at the time, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," Depp said, according to Daily Mail. "She wanted a proper relationship with me and I did not want that. I didn't feel the same about her as she did me and I suppose from that moment on she became very, very angry and since then I have not spoken to Ms. Barkin."
As for Depp and Heard, the two have accused each other of abuse in their respective testimonies. Depp has already completed his time behind the stand, but is expected to retake it once the trial resumes Monday. Closing arguments will be on Friday, May 27. "If jurors conclude that this was a mutually abusive relationship, some may see [Heard's op-ed] as technically correct," Dr. Jill Huntley Taylor, a legal analyst and the CEO of Taylor Trial Consulting, a trial strategy and jury consulting firm for civil and criminal cases, previously told EW of a possible outcome.
"However, other jurors may believe what [Heard] wrote was only a half-truth, and therefore deceptive," Taylor said. "The testimony that she [initially] wanted his name included [in the op-ed] may suggest malice, but the timing prior to her movie release may suggest her real motive was to benefit herself." No matter who wins, though, "There are truly no winners," Taylor said. "This is a case of a toxic relationship, and no one is coming out of it unscathed, regardless of whether monies change hands."