Johnny Depp denied the abuse allegations against him as he took the stand Tuesday in his $50 million defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard, and described being physically and emotionally tormented by his mother as a child.
The actor said Heard’s accusations of domestic violence against him were “not based in any species of truth” as he tested in front of a seven-person jury at a Fairfax, Va., courtroom, where Heard was present.
“Never did I, myself, reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way, nor have I ever struck any woman in my life,” Depp, 58, said.
Depp’s testimony comes a little over a week after the trial began. Depp sued Heard in early 2019 over an op-ed published in the Washington Post in which she wrote she’d become “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Heard didn’t name Depp in that December 2018 essay, but had previously accused the Oscar-nominated actor of physically and verbally abusing her during their marriage, which he denied.
On Tuesday, Depp said his late mother, Betty Sue Palmer, was “quite violent” and “quite cruel,” saying the psychological and verbal abuse is what tore his family apart.
“In our house, we were never exposed to any type of safety or security,” Depp said. “The only thing that one could do, really, was to try to stay out of the line of fire. I started to be able to observe, and I could start to see when she was about to head into a situation where she was going to get riled up and somebody was going to get it. Generally, it was me.”
Depp said his father, John Depp, is a “very kind man” but frequently engaged in arguments with Betty Sue during their marriage.
The actor also spoke about his fame reaching a new level following the 2003 premiere of “The Pirates of the Caribbean,” in which he portrayed the swashbuckling Captain Jack Sparrow, saying he needed to hire more security after people tried to the climb gate at his home, sometimes dressed as the character.
“I can’t complain about it, but after a while you realize that anonymity has left the building,” Depp said.
Previous testimonies during the high-profile case included the therapist Laurel Anderson, who counted Depp and Heard among her clients in 2015. She described the Hollywood stars’ relationship as one of “mutual abuse” last week.
Depp’s team asserts Heard fabricated the abuse allegations to destroy his reputation, while Heard’s team claims Depp damaged his own career.
“This man’s poor choices have brought him to this point,” Heard’s lawyer J. Benjamin Rottenborn said during his opening statement last week. “Stop blaming other people for your own self-created problems.”
The defamation case, which is expected to last for weeks, was allowed to be held in Virginia because the Washington Post has servers there.
Heard, 35, hasn’t been tested during the defamation trial.
Depp previously lost a libel lawsuit against the publisher of British tabloid The Sun over an article that painted him as a “wife beater,” with a United Kingdom judge ruling in 2020 that the claims were “substantially true.”
The “Sweeney Todd” actor was later rejected in his efforts to appeal the ruling.
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Johnny Depp describes abusive mother, denies Amber Heard’s domestic violence accusation as he testifies in defamation trial
Depp and Heard were married from 2015-17.