Almost two weeks after the verdict, Amber Heard has broken her silence. Her initial reaction had only been known through a statement in which she said she had no words to describe the disappointment she felt at the jury’s decision in the blockbuster defamation trial that ended on June 1, when she was found to have defamed her ex-husband Johnny Depp in a 2018 op-ed essay she published in The Washington Post.
Heard has granted an interview to NBC News that will be broadcast in full this Friday, with some previews offered during the week. “I don’t blame the jury,” she says in the excerpt released on Monday. The actress complains about the unfair treatment received on social networks.
“I don’t care what one thinks about me or what judgments you want to make about what happened in the privacy of my own home, in my marriage, behind closed doors. I don’t presume the average person should know those things. And so I don’t take it personally,” she said. “But even somebody who is sure I’m deserving of all this hate and vitriol, even if you think that I’m lying, you still couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me that you think on social media there’s been a fair representation. You cannot tell me that you think that this has been fair.”
The jury was prohibited from following details about the case outside of court through the press, radio, television or social media. However, in such a long trial and without having decreed the isolation of the jurors, it was very difficult for them to remain completely on the sidelines of the global conversation. As if that were not enough, an expert called by Heard’s own defense testified that social media users were overwhelmingly in favor of Depp and against Heard.
In the interview excerpt issued on Monday, when the journalist points out that the members of the jury believed that she was lying, Heard replies:
“How could they make a judgment? How could they not come to that conclusion? They had sat in those seats and heard over three weeks of non-stop testimony from paid employees and towards the end of the trial...”
“You don’t blame the jury?” the journalist interrupts.
“I actually understand. He’s a beloved character and people feel they know him. He’s a fantastic actor,” the actress replies.
“Their job is not to be dazzled by that. Their job is to look at the facts and the evidence and they didn’t believe your testimony or your evidence,” retorts the interviewer.
“Again: how could they after hearing three and a half weeks of testimonies about how I was a non-credible person?” Heard answers.
Heard was ordered to pay Depp $10.34 million (around €10 million) in compensatory and punitive damages for an essay published in The Washington Post in which she described herself as representing victims of abuse, although without specifically citing her ex-husband. He, in turn, was sentenced to pay the actress $2 million over statements by Depp’s lawyers accusing Heard and her friends of fabricating false evidence to prove domestic abuse. However, Depp’s position that Heard’s claims of abuse were a hoax was not considered defamatory.
The actress’s lawyer has indicated that her client cannot pay the amount set in damages. There are legal doubts about whether she can declare bankruptcy or whether Depp can have her assets liquidated. There has also been speculation about the possibility of reaching an out-of-court settlement on the payment of compensation to close the case.
The trial was widely followed around the world. Feminist groups consider that it could do a lot of damage to the #MeToo movement, if women who have suffered abuse or sexual violence feel they could face a defamation lawsuit if they speak up. Depp, for his part, views his victory as a vindication of the presumption of innocence.