“It’s strange when one day you’re Cinderella, so to speak, and then in 0.6 seconds, you’re Quasimodo.” That’s how actor Johnny Depp, 58, described on Tuesday in court how his reputation in Hollywood has been hurt by his former wife Amber Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse.
The couple married in 2015, but the relationship only lasted 15 months. Soon after it ended, Heard, 35, accused Depp of abusing her in their home in Los Angeles. He has consistently denied the accusations.
A slew of legal battles followed the divorce, the most recent of which began last week in the US state of Virginia. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million for defaming him in an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Although the opinion piece did not identify Depp by name, the actor argues that the accusations “permeated the industry,” leading to his suspension from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. The lawsuit also claims that Heard took advantage of the publicity to promote her box office hit Aquaman, which grossed $1 billion worldwide.
Dressed in a suit, with his hair in a ponytail, Depp spoke slowly in court on Tuesday, in a monotone. It was not clear if he wanted to test the patience of those who were present, including Heard, or if he wanted to give the impression that he was carefully measuring his words.
Depp told the court: “Truth is the only thing I’m interested in.” He added that he had brought the case to trial because he felt “the responsibility of clearing the record.”
“I didn’t deserve that,” he said. “Nor did my children, nor do the people who have believed in me for all these years. I didn’t want anybody, any of those people, to believe that I had done them wrong or lied to them or that I was a fraud.”
With respect to Heard’s allegations that he physically abused her, he said: “I never struck Ms Heard in that way, nor have I struck any woman in my life.”
Since the trial began last week, several witnesses have spoken out about the couple’s drug and alcohol abuse. Witnesses have also reported on constant fights between the two. Marriage therapist Laurel Anderson, who treated the couple, described the marital dynamic as “mutual abuse,” according to the Associated Press.
Before the start of the trial, Heard wrote a message on social media, which pointed out that her op-ed on domestic violence never mentioned Depp.
“Rather, I wrote about the price women pay for speaking against men in power,” she said. “I continue to pay that price, but hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny.”