Amber Heard tells trial Johnny Depp hit her after tattoo misunderstanding

Actor takes the witness stand for the first time in $50m defamation case

Actor Amber Heard told a Virginia jury on Wednesday that her ex-husband Johnny Depp slapped her when she laughed over the writing on one of his tattoos.

Ms Heard took the witness stand for the first time in an emotional appearance in a US defamation case brought by Mr Depp, saying the two actors had had a “magical” relationship until it turned violent.

Mr Depp’s first physical outburst, Ms Heard said, came after she asked what was written on one of his faded tattoos. She said he replied “wino”, and she laughed, thinking it was a joke.

“He slapped me across the face,” Ms Heard said. “I didn’t know what was going on. I just stared at him.”

Ms Heard said he slapped her twice more and said: “You think it’s funny, b***h?”

Mr Depp (58) testified earlier in the trial that he never hit Ms Heard and that she was the one who was the abuser in their relationship.

The star of the Pirates of the Caribbean films is suing Ms Heard (36) for $50 million, saying she defamed him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse. Ms Heard has countersued for $100 million, saying Mr Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.

The case hinges on a December 2018 opinion piece she authored in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Mr Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear Ms Heard was referencing him. The couple’s divorce was finalised in 2017 after less than two years of marriage.

Mr Depp, once among the biggest stars in Hollywood, said he never struck Ms Heard or any woman and that Ms Heard’s allegations cost him “everything”.

Ms Heard’s attorneys have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected free speech under the US constitution’s first amendment.

A state court judge in Virginia's Fairfax County, outside the US capital, is overseeing the trial, which is expected to last until late May.

Mr Depp’s lawyers have said they filed the US case in Fairfax County because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant. – Reuters