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UPDATE: Johnny Depp Wins The Defamation Suit Against Amber Heard, Awarded $15 Million In Damages

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

This story was originally published on May 11,2022 and has been updated along with the ongoing trial.

2/6/2022 UPDATE: The court has finally reached a verdict for the defamation suit by Johnny Depp against Amber Heard. The seven-person jury deliberated for three days and finally issued a verdict that claimed both Heard and Depp had defamed each other. Since Heard was found guilty of doing it three times in her Washington Post op-ed, Depp was awarded more damages with a total of $15 million ($10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages).

The jury has awarded Heard $2 million in damages for Depp’s attorney’s defamatory remarks against her.

Post-verdict, Heard issued a statement saying, “The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband. I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.”

Depp, who has been in England for the past few days and was not present in the court during the verdict, said in a statement, “The jury gave me my life back. From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun.”

In case you’ve been lucky enough to be stranded on a deserted island with no Internet connection for the past few weeks then there’s a good chance that you’ve missed the deluge of intimate details of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s volatile and abusive relationship that have been made public amid Depp’s defamation suit against Heard.

The Pirates of The Caribbean actor is suing Heard, his ex-wife, for $50 million over her 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post where she wrote about her experiences of living as a domestic abuse survivor. Even though Heard did not mention Depp by name in the article, the actor’s lawyers claim that there are clear references to the actor, and because abuse allegations were also made back in 2017 by the actress against Depp, this has caused him to lose out on many lucrative career opportunities and damaged his reputation. Heard countersued Depp for $100 million for claiming that her allegations are false.

The trial began exactly a month ago on April 11, 2022 and the court has taken a week-long break to resume on May 16th. Depp has already taken the stand to complete his testimony in front of the court and Heard was called on to the stand last week and will continue her testimony once the trial resumes.

Since the trial involves two public figures and a history of disturbing details that would make any tabloid writer salivate, it has garnered widespread attention. People have been hooked to the Internet for details about it and have been furiously debating the finer points of the trial on shady Subreddits when they’re not creating memes and reaction GIFs from the trial footage.

While the decision of the court is still pending, we decided to comb through all the messy details available for anyone to consume and put together a semi-coherent timeline of Depp and Heard’s relationship that would help you get some context as to why it’s everything anyone could talk about these days.

DISCLAIMER: The following points will discuss disturbing details of abuse and sexual violence and we advise you to employ discretion going forward.


Still from 'The Rum Diary'©Hollywood Pictures

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard met each other on the sets of The Rum Diary. Depp was 48 years old and Heard was 25 when they met. In a court filing, Heard claimed that they started dating each other at the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. At that time, Depp was in a 14-year long relationship with French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis.

Heard also broke up with her partner Tasya van Ree around the same time. USA Today reported that Heard was arrested in 2009 for physically assaulting van Ree at the Seattle airpohargeharges were dropped, however, when van Ree came forward to claim that Heard was wrongfully accused by cops who had misinterpreted and “over sensationalised” the incident.


The first allegations of abuse occured in 2013 when, according to Heard’s testimony in the ongoing defamation trial, Depp slapped her thrice after she made a joke about his ‘Wino Forever’ tattoo. In her testimony, Heard claimed that she thought Depp was joking when he hit her. “I was sitting on the couch and we were talking. We were having a normal conversation. There was no fighting, no argument, nothing, and he was drinking.” She also claimed that she felt this was because of Depp’s usage of cocaine at the time as she had found some in the house. According to Heard, she laughed at the moment because she was not entirely sure what had just happened and thought Depp had been joking. She testified that Depp slapped her a second time and said, “You think it’s so funny, bitch. You think you’re a funny bitch.” This is when the actress claims she realised that he had not been joking but she couldn’t react because she was in shock. Heard alleged that Depp then slapped her for the third time at which point, she lost her balance.

The trial also uncovered another altercation in March 2013, which Depp referred to as the ‘Disco Bloodbath’. According to Heard, Depp accused her of having an affair and backhanded her while wearing heavy rings. The actress alleges that she was hit so hard that blood from her lips landed on the wall. She produced text messages where she was discussing the incidence with Depp, with him laughing about it.

This is also the time when Depp, allegedly, went into a rage episode and threatened to attack Heard after he saw her hug a female friend. Multiple witnesses agreed that Depp thrashed the cabin and got angry at Heard. Texts from the time, between Depp and actor Paul Bettany that surfaced during the defamation trial revealed that the two fantasized about burning Heard as a witch. “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!!” read one of Depp’s texts, “I will f*ck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”


2014 Met Costume Institute Gala - New York©Getty Images

Reports of the couple’s engagement started pouring in around January 2014, when Heard was spotted wearing an ornate engagement ring in paparazzi pictures and Depp confirmed this on a talk show. In May 2014, however, Heard was allegedly kicked and had things thrown at her by Depp after he accused her of having an affair with James Franco, her co-star at that time. Depp’s assistant corroborated the incident and his former business manager has alleged that the actor had knowingly tried to cover up such incidents in the past.


The couple got married in a private ceremony in Los Angeles, a few months after which the most severe incident of abuse occurred. Reportedly, the couple was in Australia, where Heard was visiting Depp while he was shooting for a movie. Heard alleges that over the course of three days, Depp assaulted her and abused ecstasy and alcohol, putting her in fear of her life. Depp alleged that Heard was “looking for violence” after being asked to sign a postnuptial agreement. According to him, Heard put out a cigarette on his cheek and threw bottles at him because of which the tip of one of his fingers was severed. Heard claims that the finger got injured when Depp smashed his hand on a wall next to a plastic telephone. She went on to claim that Depp used his bleeding finger to write demeaning words about her on the wall, something Depp admitted to in the 2018 libel trial against the tabloid The Sun, but more on that later.

Heard’s sister and friend Rocky Pennington testified that they saw her covered in bruises and cuts shortly after the incident allegedly occurred.


Heard filed for a divorce from Depp, accusing him of physical abuse and went on to obtain a temporary restraining order against him. In May 2016, just before filing for the divorce, Heard claims that Depp threw his phone at her that left her with a bruised face. A police spokesman said that the investigation into the domestic incident radio call at that time revealed that no crime had taken place. In her testimony, Heard claimed that she didn’t give a statement to the policemen as she wanted to avoid an “international media incident”.

On Heard’s allegations in the divorce proceedings, Depp denied all accusations and claimed that Heard was “attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse.”

In August 2016, they reached a $7 million settlement outside the court and released a joint statement that said, “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

Heard pledged the settlement money to two charity organisations, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Children’s Hospital, LA.

However, it was revealed in the ongoing trial that Heard only donated $1.3 million of the $3.5 million she had pledged to the ACLU after the divorce settlement.


The divorce got finalised in 2017 and it was reported that a non-disparagement clause was added into the final settlement that prevented either of them from saying anything negative about the relationship or the break-up.


The article that caused Johnny Depp to sue The Sun for libel©The Sun

In April 2018, UK tabloid The Sun published an article criticising JK Rowling for being OK with Depp’s casting in the then-upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them sequel in an integral role, calling Depp a ‘wife beater’. The actor sued the newspaper for libel in June 2018 and the case went to court in 2020. A little while before the trial, audio recordings obtained by the Daily Mail revealed that Heard admitted to hitting Depp on several occasions. In one of the recordings, she could be heard saying, “I’m sorry that I didn’t ... hit you across the face in a proper slap, but I was hitting you, it was not punching you. Babe, you’re not punched. I don’t know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you’re fine, I did not hurt you, I did not punch you, I was hitting you.” Depp responds with “I just couldn’t take the idea of more physicality, more physical abuse on each other,” and warns Heard that “I’m scared to death we are a f*cking crime scene right now.” Heard replies, “I can’t promise you I won’t get physical again. God, I f*cking sometimes get so mad I lose it.”

Another recording referred to the 2015 Australia incident where the actress could be heard saying, “You can tell people it was a fair fight, and then see what the jury and judge thinks,” Heard says. “Tell the world, Johnny. Tell them, ‘Johnny Depp, I, a man, I’m a victim, too, of domestic violence, it’s a fair fight,’ and see how many people believe or side with you.”

In the UK, the burden of proof for a libel case is on the defendant, in this case The Sun, and with the evidence produced in the court, Depp was found guilty of abusing Heard and he lost the libel case.

“I accept that she (Heard) was the victim of sustained and multiple assaults by Mr Depp in Australia,” wrote UK Judge Andrew Nicol in his judgment. “It is a sign of the depth of his rage that he admitted scrawling graffiti in blood from his injured finger and then, when that was insufficient, dipping his badly injured finger in paint and continuing to write messages and other things. I accept her evidence of the nature of the assaults he committed against her. They must have been terrifying. I accept that Mr Depp put her in fear of her life.”

Depp released a statement on Instagram that he had been asked to resign from the Fantastic Beasts movie and claimed he was not going to stop appealing to the courts for justice.

In December 2018, Heard wrote the op-ed for The Washington Post that is at the center of the defamation suit.


Depp filed the defamation suit against Heard. In a court filing, Heard detailed the multiple instances of abuse that occurred during their relationship and referred to him as “The Monster”.


The Daily Mail audio recordings surface but Depp still loses the libel lawsuit against The Sun in November.


On April 11, the defamation trial of Depp Vs Heard kicked off in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Heard posted a statement right before the trial, thanking people for the support they’ve given her and expressing how painful it would be to bring out the details of their past in front of the public.

Heard’s attorney J. Benjamin Rottenborn read the entirety of her op-ed piece and claimed that the actress was just exercising her freedom of free speech when she wrote the article. He also addressed the jury, saying, “She could fill a book with those details. She would have told you about the monster, but she didn’t. That wasn’t the point of this article,” Rottenborn said. “Because Johnny Depp brought this case, all of that is going to come out. Just know Amber Heard didn’t want to unearth for the public who the real Johnny Depp is ... You’ll see the real Johnny Depp, behind the pirate costume.”

US-COURT-DEPP-HEARD-trial-celebrity©Getty Images

On April 19, Depp took the stand to testify and claimed that Heard would instigate arguments and escalate feuds and even resorted to demeaning name calling. “It’s hard to explain, but the argument would start here, but it would roll around and become this circular thing of its own,” Depp said. “You’d get back to the beginning. … Now it’s heightened even more, and it’s still circular. There’s no way in or out.”

The actor added that sometimes these arguments would escalate to violence, with Heard shoving him or throwing a glass of wine in his face. When these arguments would start, Depp said he would try to extricate himself from the situation, sometimes locking himself in the bathroom just to get away from Heard, alleging that it was because of Heard that he turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. Depp also talked about the incident in Australia, claiming that he locked himself in “at least nine bedrooms and bathrooms” that day “as she was banging on the doors and screaming obscenities and wanting to have a physical altercation.” He also recalled the incident that led to his fingertip getting severed, claiming that Heard threw a bottle at him that sliced off the top of his right middle finger. “It made contact and it shattered everywhere,” he said, “I honestly didn’t feel the pain at first, what I felt was heat and I felt as if something were dripping down my hand. Then I looked down and realized that the tip of my finger had been severed and I was looking directly at my bones sticking out and the meaty portion of the inside of your finger.”


Depp later testified that he lied to doctors about how the tip of his right middle finger was cut off rather than telling them Heard threw a vodka bottle at him. “I didn’t want to disclose that it had been Ms. Heard that had thrown a vodka bottle at me and then took my finger off,” he said. “I didn’t want to get her in trouble. I tried to just keep things as copacetic and easy as possible for everyone. I didn’t want to put her into that mix.”

Depp also testified that Heard or one of her friends defecated on their bed after he broke up with her. Heard claimed that it was the work of her two dogs, an explanation that the actor found ridiculous. “She brought up the fecal matter on the bed. She tried to blame it on the dogs,” Depp said. “They’re teacup Yorkies. They weigh about four pounds each. I lived with those dogs. I picked up their funk. It was not the dogs.”


Heard’s first witness Dawn Hughes, a clinical psychologist, took the stand and denied that any mutual abuse between the couple happened. Her testimony, based on 29 hours of clinical interviews as well as her review of the court’s transcripts, claimed that Heard was a clear victim of abuse in this case and alleged that there had been several incidences of sexual violence during their relationships, including a time where Depp forced Heard into performing oral sex.

In her testimony, Heard detailed incidents of abuse against her during Depp’s alleged drug-fuelled rage episodes. “I wanted to want to leave him. I wanted him to get better,” she said, her voice crackling with emotion. “And he expressed to me so many times when he was in that period of getting clean and sober, ‘You saved my life. Baby girl, you saved my life.’ Everyone else is saying that to me, and I believed it.’”


The actress also spoke about Depp’s continued accusations of her having affairs with co-stars, friends, and ex-partners. “He hated, hated James Franco,“ Heard said. ”He was accusing me of secretly having a thing with him in the past since we had done Pineapple Express together.“ Heard also alleged that Depp discouraged her from acting. She claimed that she had to bargain with him to be able to star in Magic Mike XXL, a movie with a predominantly male cast. She said he “reluctantly agreed,” partly because it did not feature extensive sex or kissing scenes. “I wasn’t going to play a sexualized character. I wore minimal makeup.”

Heard’s lawyer also presented an audio recording of Depp telling Heard, “I become irrational when you’re doing movies. I become jealous and f*cking weird and we fight a lot more.”

She also testified that she suspected Depp of cheating on her shortly after their 2015 wedding. “He was texting this woman that he had had a relationship with on and off kind of at the beginning of our relationship, so I recognized the name,” Heard testified. “But the date was right after the wedding. I saw that he had gone to her house after we had gotten married. Upon touching down in Los Angeles, I think it was the next day he went to this woman’s house that he has this sexual relationship with... I remember being so mad at him for cheating on me. It just felt like everything came crashing down.”

In the beginning of May, Heard, reportedly, fired her PR team for all the negative press she had been receiving during the ongoing trial.

Each side’s legal team released their statements before the hiatus ends. Depp’s spokesperson said, “As Mr. Depp’s counsel correctly predicted in their opening statements last month, Ms. Heard did indeed deliver ‘the performance of her life’ in her direct examination. While Ms. Heard’s stories have continued to grow new and convenient details, Mr. Depp’s recollections have remained exactly the same throughout the six painful years since her first allegations were made. His truth—the truth—is the same no matter the environment in which it has been presented. The upcoming cross examination from Mr. Depp’s team will be most telling, and will certainly highlight the many fallacies Ms. Heard has now attempted to pass off as fact throughout her convoluted testimony.”

Heard’s counsel released a statement saying, “Mr. Depp’s defamation claim is falling apart so rapidly that his counsel are turning from prosecutor to persecutor. If Mr. Depp was truly innocent, why has he repeatedly apologized to Ms. Heard and promised to put the ‘monster away for good’? One of Ms. Heard’s disappointments is Mr. Depp’s inability to distinguish fact from fiction—a malady which appears to have spread to his legal team. That same team is so panicked they are fighting tooth and nail to prevent compelling evidence and photos from being introduced... Mr. Depp’s behavior in this trial has been as pitiful as it was in their marriage. Apparently, they feel they must double-down on their demonstrably losing two-part strategy: distract the jury and demonize the victim.”

Heard will take the stand again once the trial resumes on May 16.


The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial resumed on May 16 after a hiatus. Heard, reportedly, arrived at the court to jeers and abuses from the crowd of Depp fans gathered outside, while the actor was cheered on boisterously on arrival. Here are some key findings from Heard’s testimony after the court resumed the trial.


Key findings from Amber Heard’s testimony during her time on the stand

Heard clarified that she intends to fulfill the donation pledge from her divorce settlement

One point of contention against Heard was the fact that she didn’t fulfill the donation pledge she had made to the two charities with her divorce settlement. When cross-examined on the stand, the actress revealed that she fully intends to fulfill the pledge but had to pause because of Depp’s $50 Million lawsuit against her.

Heard claimed that the medical examination given to her in 2015 was lacking

Depp’s legal team brought up a medical document from December 17, 2015, which stated that no visible signs of injury could be found on Heard’s person at the time of the examination. Heard rebutted the quality and thoroughness of the document as it also stated that she was a ‘well-nourished male’.

Heard admitted to wearing a lot of make-up and using ice to hide injuries from Depp

When asked about the lack of injuries on her face during the alleged time of the abuse, and Heard’s own testimony that Depp frequently wore rings on his fingers, the actress claimed that she was wearing a lot of make-up in the photos and had used ice to reduce swelling from the injuries.

Heard talked about her career being affected and the emotional impact of Depp’s former lawyer calling her abuse claims a “hoax”

The actress revealed that her role in the upcoming Aquaman sequel had been shortened considerably following Depp’s claims that she had been lying about the abuse. On allegations by Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman that her allegations were a “hoax”, she said, “It’s torture. It’s torturous. No one should have to do that. I want to move on with my life. I have a baby. I want to move on. ... I want Johnny to move on, too. I want him to leave me alone.” She also testified that a major brand suspended an advertisement campaign that she was contracted to do. She has also said that she doesn’t want any monetary benefit from Depp or the trial, all she wants is to not be called a liar for talking about what she went through. “Embarrassing, intimate details that I never wanted to be known, never wanted to be public ever, and to have them used every single day to call me a liar,” she said, “I have to relive this every single day that I have to address those claims.”

Depp, allegedly, threatened to ruin Heard’s career after she filed for divorce

Heard accused Depp and his team of planting “nasty stories” about her in the media after she filed for a divorce from him. Heard recalled, “I would be selling Depends (the adult diaper) is what he said and that he’d ruin my career.” She added that, “He told me he would tell his team to back off ... effectively if I agree to do certain things, one of which, he wanted me to, like, drop charges ... or some version of that,“ Heard said. ”He wanted me to get back together with him and on tour with him. ... He wanted me to do certain things that I thought were impossible and that would certainly go against everything that I stood for and had earned.”

Heard talked about her intentions behind publishing the op-ed for Washington Post

The essay that prompted Depp to file the defamation suit was not intended to malign his image, according to Heard’s testimony. “I was trying to raise awareness around some of the issues that I just mentioned,” she said, going on to add, “It’s not about Johnny. The only one who thought it was about Johnny was Johnny,“ Heard said. ”It’s about me. It’s about what happened to me after Johnny. It’s about what happened to me after I escaped my marriage. It was about me and my life and what I endured.”

Heard admitted to hitting Depp, but claimed it was in self defense

When questioned about her talking about hitting Depp in an audio recording, Heard admitted that she did hit Depp but claimed it was because she wanted to defend herself. “I hit his arms, his body as he was trying to prevent me from closing the door,” she said. “I knew what he would do to me when he got to the other side.”

Heard claimed that Depp would injure himself during their fights

Most of the injuries that Depp claimed were from Heard hitting or abusing him were self-inflicted, according to Heard’s testimony. She said that Depp would often hurt himself during their fights, including burning himself with a cigarette. She considered calling the police once because of this as well.

Heard lied to the police to protect Depp

Heard claims that she didn’t report her abuse initially because she wanted to protect Depp. “I tried really hard to keep it private, even after that, even when I was committed to filing for divorce,” she said, “I tried to protect Johnny. I tried to protect the history of what we had.”

The article will be updated as the trial progresses.