Johnny Depp was a misogynist prone to violent rages, court hears

Actor’s drug-taking and jealousy made him a danger to Amber Heard, libel trial is told

Actor Johnny Depp arrives at the UK high court in London for his libel trial. File photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Actor Johnny Depp arrives at the UK high court in London for his libel trial. File photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire


Johnny Depp was a drug addict prone to violent rages, as well as a misogynist who assaulted his then wife and used abusive language about women, a London court was told on Monday, as the actor’s libel trial against a British tabloid neared its ending.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star is suing News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun, and one of its journalists, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article that called him a “wife beater”.

Mr Depp and Ms Heard both gave evidence at the trial. Mr Depp said he was never violent towards Ms Heard or any other woman and she was the one who had attacked him. Ms Heard described multiple incidents in which she said he physically assaulted her.

Summarising the defence case, which is that the allegation of “wife beating” was true, lawyer Sasha Wass portrayed the actor as “a hopeless addict” whose substance abuse, jealousy and anger made him a danger to his partner.

She said his excessive drug-taking led to uncontrolled outbursts during which he would metamorphose into a violent alter ego he called “The Monster”, and that his own memories of the extent of his behaviour were impaired by drugs and alcohol.

Citing texts and emails in which Mr Depp had used words like “whore”, “slut” or “worthless hooker” about Ms Heard and other women, Ms Wass said he was far from being the “southern gentleman” on which he had told the court he modelled himself.

She quoted from texts he had sent in 2013 to the actor Paul Bettany, in which he had spoken about drowning and burning Ms Heard.

Ms Wass accused Mr Depp of “deep misogyny” and said jealousy of Ms Heard’s supposed other partners was the catalyst of many violent episodes.

“Mr Depp has sought to deploy the more old-fashioned methods used to discredit women. She [Ms Heard] is a gold-digger, a shrew and an adulterer,” the lawyer said.

She said Ms Heard denied cheating on Mr Depp and it was irrelevant anyway. She also said Ms Heard was a successful actor in her own right and was financially independent.

Reversing roles

By accusing Ms Heard of physically assaulting him, Mr Depp was seeking to reverse the roles of offender and victim, Ms Wass said. Accused of violence and excessive drug-taking, he had responded by levelling the same accusations at Ms Heard, she said.

Addressing one of the arguments made by Mr Depp’s legal team, which was that no witness apart from Ms Heard or her sister said they had seen Mr Depp hit Ms Heard, Ms Wass said this was not a valid point because domestic violence took place behind closed doors.

She also rejected the Depp team’s accusation that Ms Heard had made up her allegations as part of a hoax, saying it was “risible” to suggest that Ms Heard would have accumulated a dossier of false information over the entire course of their relationship.

Describing it as a “critical piece of evidence”, Ms Wass read from an email that Ms Heard had sent to herself in 2013, before the couple were married, in which she recorded her feelings about Mr Depp’s drug-fuelled rages. The email was addressed to Mr Depp but not sent to him.

“You have hit me repeated. something you should Never have done . . . And None of this would be possible without the booze and drugs. NONE,” Ms Heard wrote.

Ms Wass was due to continue her closing speech for the whole of Monday’s hearing. Mr Depp’s lawyer, David Sherborne, is due to make his own closing arguments on Tuesday. A ruling is not expected immediately. – Reuters