Attorneys for Amber Heard on Monday showed a jury critical news articles that they said damaged her ex-husband Johnny Depp’s career well before the claim at the center of his defamation case.
Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for US$50 million after she accused him of abuse before and during their roughly two-year marriage. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor has argued that Heard was the one who became violent in the relationship.
Heard, known for roles in “Aquaman” and “Justice League,” has counter-sued for US$100 million, saying Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.
The case hinges on a December 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post in which Heard said she was a survivor of domestic abuse.
The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear Heard was referencing him. The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2017.
In a Virginia courtroom on Monday, 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 Heard’s piece.
Depp said that as a longtime Hollywood star he was subject of “hit pieces.”
The actor testified earlier that it was Heard who got physical during arguments and would slap or shove him. Heard once threw a vodka bottle at Depp’s hand, cutting off the top of his right middle finger, he said.
In a separate legal case in Britain, Heard denied throwing a bottle and severing 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.
Depp, once among the biggest stars in Hollywood, said he never struck Heard or any woman and that Heard’s allegations cost him “everything.” A new “Pirates” movie was put on hold, and Depp was dropped from the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise, a “Harry Potter” spinoff.
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, Heard’s attorneys said 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, Depp lost a libel case against The Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a “wife beater.” A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.
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.