Testy at times, rambling and poetic at others, Johnny Depp has embraced a familiar role at his defamation trial against his former wife Amber Heard — the leading man.
During three days on the witness stand, the three-time Oscar nominee has sought to convince a jury that the allegations of domestic abuse made against him by Heard are untrue and have destroyed his career.
Lawyers for the 36-year-old Heard have hammered away at the 58-year-old Depp’s history of drug and alcohol use in a bid to undermine his credibility.
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star has mostly kept his cool under cross-examination by Heard’s lawyers but has shown the occasional flash of anger.
Asked by her attorney Ben Rottenborn to answer a “simple yes or no question,” Depp snapped back: “Nothing is simple in this case.”
Depp has also gotten the hang of the back-and-forth of the Virginia courtroom where high-powered lawyers for both sides are constantly interrupting each other to complain about hearsay.
“That’s hearsay I guess,” Depp said of one of his own comments, drawing laughter from a gallery that includes some of the actor’s fans. “I’m learning.”
At other times, the actor has waxed lyrical during his frequently long-winded answers.
Asked about the domestic abuse allegations against him, Depp compared it to “running between drops of lava.”
“You’re trying to run between raindrops that kill you and destroy you.”
– ‘Monster’ –
Depp has turned up for the trial in Fairfax County Circuit Court with his hair tied back in a ponytail, earrings and chunky rings.
He has favored three-piece suits in court and wore an all-black ensemble on Thursday — black suit, black vest, black shirt and black tie.
The Texas-born Heard, who had a starring role in the movie “Aquaman,” has gone mainly for black pant suits and a change of hairstyle each day.
She has remained mostly stoic during Depp’s testimony, listening attentively, whispering with her lawyers and taking notes on a yellow legal pad.
She did noticeably flinch when a video was shown on Thursday of an angry Depp slamming cabinet doors in their kitchen.
The actress was also clearly distressed when an audiotape was played for the jury during which she pleaded with Depp not to cut himself with a knife.
Heard’s attorneys have alleged that Depp would become a physically and sexually abusive “monster” when he was drunk or on illegal drugs and have questioned him extensively about his substance use.
Asked about partying with the shock rocker Marilyn Manson, Depp said: “We drank together. We’ve had cocaine together maybe a couple of times.”
In a text message to another friend, the actor Paul Bettany, Depp talked about taking a plane flight having had “no food for days, powders, half a bottle of whiskey, 1,000 Red Bull and vodkas, pills and two bottles of champers.”
– Text messages –
There have been enough references to celebrities during the trial’s first week to fill a tabloid.
Depp said he suspected the actor James Franco was having an affair with Heard.
Heard, for her part, was jealous about a tattoo Depp had that read “Winona Forever” — a reference to former girlfriend Winona Ryder.
Depp said he had the last two letters removed so the tattoo now reads “Wino Forever.”
Depp was asked about text messages seeking advice on sobriety from Elton John and others to singer Patti Smith in which he acknowledged drinking too much.
Domestic abuse is at the core of the trial and both Depp and Heard have accused each other of being violent during their 2015 to 2017 marriage.
Depp said he told several people about being struck by Heard, including director Tim Burton, one of his “dearest friends,” and Alice Cooper, a member of Depp’s band, “The Hollywood Vampires.”
Obscenity-laced text messages from Depp to various people have been read out in court in which he calls Heard a “slippery whore” and other epithets.
In one message, Depp refers to his ex-partner, singer Vanessa Paradis, the mother of their two children, as a “French extortionist.”
Asked about the messages, Depp acknowledged he could be over the top but said “when I write a text… it’s a canvas, it’s a painting.”
Depp is suing Heard over a column she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018 in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Heard did not name Depp but he sued her for implying he was an abuser and is seeking $50 million in damages.
Heard countersued, asking for $100 million and claiming she suffered “rampant physical violence and abuse” at his hands.
The trial resumes on Monday.