Johnny Depp says texts he sent to actor Paul Bettany about burning and drowning his former partner Amber Heard were a joke based on a Monty Python sketch.
The actor told a US court on Monday that he was “ashamed” of the messages but that they were an attempt at “irreverent and abstract humour”.
It comes as Mr Depp continues to give evidence in the defamation trial, taking place in Fairfax County, Virginia, which is now in its third week.
The actor is suing Ms Heard for libel over a 2018 article she wrote in the Washington Post, which his lawyers say falsely implies he physically and sexually abused her. He has argued that Ms Heard was the one who became violent in the relationship.
The court previously heard that during a 2013 text exchange with Mr Bettany, Mr Depp had written: “Let’s burn Amber.
“Let’s drown her before we burn her. I will f**k her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”
But Mr Depp said he and Mr Bettany had connected over their “abstract sense of humour” to deal with difficult situations, and the comments were never “intended to be real”.
“As these are private texts there was a lot . . . in context,” he said.
“It’s important to know none of that was ever intended to be real and the language used which . . . yes, I am ashamed [of] has to be spread on the world like peanut butter.
“For example, the text that is about burning Ms Heard is directly from Monty Python and the sketch about burning witches and then drowning the witches.
“This is a film we’d all watch when we were 10 – it’s just irreverent and abstract humour.”
Mr Depp added that the relationship between Mr Bettany and Ms Heard was “abominable” as she viewed him as a “threat”.
“Ms Heard despised Mr Bettany mainly because we had become such close friends and for her he was a threat and would take me away from her.”
Mr Depp has denied all allegations that he has ever assaulted Ms Heard.
He told the court that after reading the Washington Post article for the first time he felt like he had been “hit over the head with a two-by-four [piece of wood]”.
Earlier, attorneys for Ms Heard showed the jury critical news articles that they said damaged Mr Depp’s career well before the claim at the centre of the defamation case.
On Monday, Ms Heard’s attorneys introduced news articles with headlines such as “Why are all of Johnny Depp’s movies bombing at the box office?” and “Where did it all go wrong for Johnny Depp?” All were published before Ms Heard’s piece.
Mr Depp said that as a long-time Hollywood star he was subject of “hit pieces”.
The actor testified earlier that it was Ms Heard who got physical during arguments and would slap or shove him. Ms Heard once threw a vodka bottle at Mr Depp’s hand, cutting off the top of his right middle finger, he said.
In a separate legal case in Britain, Ms Heard denied throwing a bottle and severing Mr Depp’s finger. She said she threw things only to escape when he was beating her, and once punched him because she feared he would push her sister down the stairs.
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”. A new Pirates of the Caribbean movie was put on hold, and Mr Depp was dropped from the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, a Harry Potter spinoff.
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. In opening arguments, Ms Heard’s attorneys said Mr Depp physically and sexually assaulted her while abusing drugs and alcohol.
A state court judge in Fairfax County, Virginia, is overseeing the trial, which is expected to last until late May.
Less than two years ago, Mr Depp lost a libel case against British tabloid the Sun, after it labelled him a “wife beater”. A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Ms Heard.
Mr Depp’s lawyers have said they filed the US case in Fairfax County, outside the nation’s capital, because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant. – AP/Reuters
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