Content warning: This story discusses sexual assault and abuse.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are ready for a battle in the courtroom. More than five years after their breakup, Depp's $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife is taking center stage in a Virginia courtroom. In opening statements shared on April 12, Depp's lawyers argued that Heard ruined the actor's reputation by "choosing to lie about him for her own personal benefit."
Back in 2018, Heard wrote an essay for the Washington Post in which she described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse." Although the article never mentioned Depp by name, his attorneys previously said in court documents that Heard's op-ed was all part of an "elaborate hoax."
The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star also claimed in court documents that Heard concocted her story in the hopes of generating "positive publicity" and to "advance her career."
Days before the trial began, Heard made a rare statement on Instagram announcing a break from social media. "Johnny is suing me for an op-ed I wrote in the Washington Post, in which I recounted my experience of violence and domestic abuse," she wrote on April 9. "I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power. I continue to pay that price, but hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny."
As the trial continues and is broadcast live on TV, E! News is keeping track of the biggest revelations from both sides. Keep reading to get the latest before a jury reaches a verdict.
Amber Heard Testifies on Johnny Depp's Alleged Abuse
Heard took the stand on May 4, testifying about the first time Depp allegedly hit her while they were sitting on the couch. "He slapped me across the face and I laughed," she said. "I laughed because I didn't know what else to do. I thought this must be a joke because I didn't know what was going on. I just stared at him thinking that he was going to start laughing too."
She also testified that Depp critiqued her outfits and tried to impress her parents with "amazing" gifts.
Amber Heard Says She Stayed With Johnny Depp Because He Might Change
Amber said on the stand that she hoped their relationship would change after Depp tried to get sober. "He'd get clean and get sober and become this thing that made me feel so loved," she testified. "I just felt like he knew me and I recognized something in him…that I just got him."
Read all the bombshells from her testimony by clicking here.
Lady Gaga’s Ex Christian Carino Took the Stand to Discuss Amber Heard’s Breakup With Elon Musk
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp's former talent agent, Christian Carino, took the stand on April 27 and discussed his prior conversations with Heard about her breakup with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who she dated after splitting with Depp.
Carino, who is Lady Gaga's former fiancé, testified to text messages he exchanged with Heard in August 2017. In one message, Heard said she was "dealing" with a breakup, writing that she was "so sad" and hated that the news was made public. Carino said he believes she was referencing her split with Musk.
Carino texted back, "You weren't in love with him and you told me a thousand times you were just filling space." When asked in court what he meant by that, Carino said he was telling her she shouldn't be sad because she wasn't "in love" with Musk.
Heard wrote back that she wanted to "grieve and recover" in her own time. Carino said in court that he didn't know whether Heard was referring to Musk or her prior breakup with Depp. He later messaged Heard that she could "avoid" this problem if she stopped dating "uber famous people."
Johnny Depp Defends His "Burn Amber" Texts With Paul Bettany
During a redirect on April 25, Depp told the court that his 2013 text exchange with his friend Bettany — in which he wrote in part, "Let's burn Amber!!! Let's drown her before we burn her!!" — was a reference to a "Monty Python" sketch about burning witches.
"This is a film that we'd all watched when we were 10, and it's just irreverent and abstract humor," he said. "That's what we were referring to in those texts."
While the texts did show Bettany rebuffing the idea, Depp testified that Heard had an "abominable" relationship with the "WandaVision" actor.
"Ms. Heard despised Mr. Bettany because mainly we had become such close friends. For her, he was a threat and would take me away from her," Depp said. "If Paul Bettany was getting attention from me, that was a showstopper. It would cause all kinds of unpleasantries."
E! News reached out to Bettany's rep for comment but did not hear back.
Johnny Depp Wanted to Give a "Proper Goodbye" to Jack Sparrow and "Pirates of the Caribbean" Franchise
While on the stand on April 25, Depp testified that he had "planned on continuing" to star in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise "until it was time to stop." The last film, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," was released in 2017, a year before Heard published her op-ed.
"Captain Jack Sparrow was a character that I had built from the ground up," Depp said. "I didn't quite understand how after that long relationship — and quite a successful relationship certainly for Disney — that suddenly I was guilty until proven innocent."
Depp also claimed he had "many discussions" about a role in the sixth installment of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" saga before Heard's op-ed.
"My feeling was that these characters should be able to have their proper goodbye, as it were," he said. "A franchise can only last for so long, and there's a way to end a franchise like that. I thought that the characters deserved to have their way out—to end the franchise on a very good note."
More Johnny Depp Trial Coverage
Johnny Depp Claims Amber Heard Did Drugs on Their Wedding Day
While taking the stand, Depp accused Heard of being high on MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, on their February 2015 wedding day.
"Amber, a couple of friends of mine…All of her gang were all partaking in the MDMA," Depp testified. When asked if he also took drugs that day, Depp claimed that he didn't do any MDMA or drink alcohol. He did, however, admit to smoking marijuana. E! News has reached out to Heard's rep for comment and hasn't heard back.
Lily-Rose Depp Skipped Johnny Depp's Wedding to Amber Heard
When looking back on his February 2015 wedding to Heard, Depp explained why one of his kids wasn't interested in attending the big day. "My daughter Lily-Rose did not come to the wedding," he testified of the 22-year-old. "She and Ms. Heard were not on particularly great terms, for several reasons."
Amber Heard's Thoughts on Johnny Depp's Winona Ryder Tattoo
Back in the ‘90s, Depp got a tattoo in honor of his then-girlfriend Winona Ryder that read, "Winona Forever." Once they broke up, Depp changed the tattoo to "Wino Forever."
"I took off the last two letters," Depp testified. "I thought through pain comes humor. Humor has to come in there into the pain and that's how you play it out in the mind." The actor testified that Heard hated the tattoo and made him get a tattoo of her own name.
"I was doing everything I could to bring a smile to her face as opposed to a frown and then the onslaught of whatever problems she was experiencing," he said. "I would try to wake her up with laughter, singing stupid songs in her ear. I generally just tried to keep bringing her mood up. Sometimes it worked, many times it didn't. But I tried."
Johnny Depp Suspected Amber Heard Was Having an Affair With James Franco
During cross-examination on April 21, Depp admitted to having a heated conversation with Heard before they boarded a 2014 flight from Boston to Los Angeles. According to the actor's testimony, he feared Heard was having an affair with James Franco, her co-star in 2015's "The Adderall Diaries."
The day after the flight, Depp sent a text to Heard apologizing for his behavior writing, "Once again, I find myself in a place of shame and regret. Of course, I am sorry. I really don't know why or what happened but I will never do it again." E! News has reached out to Franco's team for comment and hasn't heard back.
Johnny Depp Praises Amber Heard to Elton John
At one point in Depp's cross-examination, Heard's lawyer read an e-mail the actor sent to Elton John. The e-mail stated, "My kids have fallen head over heels in deep love with Amber, my girl, and that pressure off my shoulders is f------ gone. That is until the French extortionist attempts to brainwash them against her which I'm sure is imminent." Depp later verified the e-mail in court and confirmed that he was referring to ex-partner Vanessa Paradis as the French extortionist.
Johnny Depp Texts Paul Bettany About Amber Heard
During court, Heard's attorneys showed texts from a 2013 exchange between Depp and Paul Bettany. In one of the text exchanges with Bettany, Depp wrote: "Let's burn Amber!!! Let's drown her before we burn her!! I will f--- her burnt corpse afterward to make sure she is dead." Bettany pushed back on the idea stating in text messages, "I don't think we should burn Amber…"
E! News has reached out to Bettany's team for comment and hasn't heard back. The actor previously expressed that it was "embarrassing" to have his texts made public when they were used in the U.K. libel case Depp brought against The Sun, which he lost. "During the marriage I didn't know them," Bettany told The Times when addressing Depp and Heard's marriage. "I wasn't around for any of that. We live in a world without context."
Johnny Depp Explains Why He "Lied" About His Severed Finger
Though Depp initially sought treatment at an emergency room for his severed finger, the actor said during his testimony on April 20 that he "lied" to the doctor there about how he got injured.
"I didn't want to get her in trouble," he testified. "I tried to just keep things as copasetic and as easy as possible for everyone. I did not want to put her name in that mix."
Previously, a judge presiding over Depp's libel lawsuit against The Sun did not accept that Heard was responsible for severing the actor's fingertip through allegedly throwing a vodka bottle at him, according to The Guardian.
Johnny Depp Says He Tried to "Make It Work" with Amber Heard
During his court appearance on April 20, Depp compared his contentious relationship with Heard to the abuse he and his father John Depp Sr. allegedly experienced at the hands of his late mother, Betty Sue Palmer.
"The only thing I learned to do was exactly what I did as a child — retreat, take a step back," he said. "Why did I stay? I stayed, I suppose, because my father stayed."
Johnny Depp Claims Amber Heard Used His Childhood to "Verbally Decimate" Him
On April 20, Depp claimed in court that Heard used his embattled childhood against him, with him saying it "became ammunition for Miss Heard to either verbally decimate me or to send me into a kind of tailspin of confusion and depression."
Depp said the "only way to find any sort of peace was to try to walk away," adding that "there were times when I would just go and lock myself in the bathroom or anywhere that she couldn't get into."
Johnny Depp Says He Turned to Drugs and Alcohol as a "Numbing Agent"
Sharing that there were "constant clashes" throughout his relationship with Heard, Depp testified on April 20 that he used drugs and alcohol "to have something to distance me and distance my heart from those verbal attacks."
"I was more inspired by Miss Heard to reach out for a numbing agent," he said. "I had to have something to be able to maintain me."
Johnny Depp Calls Detoxing Under Amber Heard's Watch the "Lowest Point in My Life"
Depp's doctor, David Kipper, previously testified that the actor traveled to the Bahamas with Heard in August 2014 for a detox from the opiates he had been taking after dental surgery, according to The Washington Post.
During his testimony on April 20, Depp said broke down crying during that trip when he begged Heard to give him his medication amid a withdrawal.
"That was the lowest I'd ever felt as a human being," he recalled. "Tears streaming down my face, begging another human being, ‘Please, please give me the meds that will take this away.' And she would not."
Johnny Depp Alleges Amber Heard Put a Cigarette Out on His Face
While on the stand during a testimony on April 20, Depp claimed Heard once took a lit cigarette and "stomped it out on my face."
"This was after the finger had gone away," he continued, referring to the March 2015 incident in which his finger was severed. "She stubbed it out in my face, on my cheek."
E! News has reached out to Heard's rep for comment.
Johnny Depp's Controversial Texts to Amber Heard
On April 13, text messages between Depp and his neighbor Isaac Baruch were revealed in court.
''I hope that Amber's rotten corpse is decomposing in a f------ trunk of a honda civic," Depp's text read, according to court footage posted to Twitter. Baruch acknowledged as real, saying, "...I see it here. Yeah, it was written."
The messages were presented while Baruch was being cross-examined on the stand by Heard's attorney Elaine Bredehoft. E! News reached out to Depp's rep who said they would not be commenting.
Johnny Depp Denies Amber Heard's Sexual Assault Allegation
During opening statements, Heard's attorney Ben Rottenborn claimed his client suffered sexual violence at the hands of Depp. He also alleged that the actress suffered domestic abuse by Depp that "took many forms," including physical, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse.
"You will hear in the most graphic and horrifying terms about the violence that she suffered," Rottenborn said about Heard's upcoming testimony. "You'll hear that straight from her. She will get on the stand and she will tell you that. It happened."
A spokesperson for Depp denied the allegations, saying, "This follows a pattern of her elaborate, erroneous claims which have continued to change and evolve over time for the purpose of Hollywood shock value of which Amber has mastered and used to exploit a serious social movement."
Did Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Engage in "Mutual Abuse"?
Laurel Avis Anderson, a therapist who worked with Depp and Heard, testified on April 14 that the couple engaged in "mutual abuse."
"I thought he had been well controlled," Anderson said according to Variety when discussing Depp's past partners. "With Ms. Heard, he was triggered. They engaged in what I saw as mutual abuse." The therapist, who saw the couple several times between October and December 2015, testified that Depp denied being violent. At the same time, she said the pair, who wed in February 2015, had "terrible skills" communicating.
"Ms. Heard had a jackhammer style of talking. She was very amped up," Anderson testified. "He had trouble talking at a similar pace … She loved him. He loved her. She believed that she wasn't stupid. She knew what they were doing wasn't healthy."
Johnny Depp's Doctor Recalls Treating His Severed Finger
Depp's longtime doctor David Kipper participated in a deposition that was played in court on April 18. In the deposition, recorded in February, Kipper recalled treating the actor after his fingertip was severed.
Kipper said he didn't know how Depp had gotten injured back in March 2015 when he cleaned the actor's wound in Australia. Depp previously claimed Heard "threw a large glass vodka bottle" at him and that the bottle hit the countertop where he had his hand and caused his finger to shatter. "I had to have three surgeries to reconstruct my finger and contracted MRSA three times," Depp said back in 2019 in his first declaration as part of his $50 million defamation lawsuit against her. "I feared that I would lose my finger, my arm and my life."
When asked in the deposition about a text message to Kipper from Depp that claimed the actor cut his own finger, Kipper responded, "I think that's what it said, yes." Kipper also testified that the actor told the ER doctor he'd cut his own finger with a knife.
Why Johnny Depp Took the Stand
On April 19, Depp took the stand and explained why he chose to pursue the high-profile defamation case.
"I felt it my responsibility to stand up not only for myself in my instance, but stand up for my children who at the time were 14 and 16," the dad of Lily-Rose Depp, 22 and Jack Depp, 20, with ex Vanessa Paradis, testified, NBC News reported. "They were in high school and I thought it was diabolical that my children would have to go to school and have their friends or people in school approach them with the infamous People magazine cover with Miss Heard with a dark bruise on her face." The cover, released in June 2016, featured a photo taken from Heard's friend of the actress visibly injured.
Depp went on to say he never reached the point of striking Heard "in any way" nor has he ever struck any woman in his life.
"It's been six years of trying times," Depp told the court. "It's really strange when one day you're Cinderella so to speak, and zero point six seconds you're Quasimodo. And I didn't deserve that, nor did my children, nor did the people who believed in me for all these years. I didn't want anybody to believe that I had done them wrong or that I had lied to them or that I was a fraud."
This post was first published on April 19, 2022, and updated on April 20, 21, 22, 25 and 27 and May 4 following additional testimony.