Johnny Depp returned to the stand Wednesday afternoon as a rebuttal witness in his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard.
During cross-examination by Heard’s legal team, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor denied trying to get the Heard fired from “Aquaman.” Although he did admit he contacted Warner Bros. executives about having Heard attached to the 2018 film.
“I felt that it was my responsibility to get the truth to Warner Bros. about what they were going to end up facing down the line which is two franchises that would be causing problems for one another,” he testified.
Depp and Heard were married from 2015 to 2016, and their divorce became top tabloid news before it was finalized in 2017. Depp said he wanted to let Warner Bros. know that their two franchises — “Aquaman” and the “Fantastic Beasts” films might be affected by negative press coverage about the couple’s split and reports that there had been domestic violence in their relationship.
He said Warner Bros. was getting “upset” about “constant hit pieces” portraying him negatively in the media. Additionally, he told the court he’d vouched for Heard to the studio before Heard was cast in “Aquaman,” and felt he needed to warn Warner Bros. about potential fallout.
“On one level yes, it’s just acting, it’s just movies. But, it’s business and it’s your word, and I had given my word to them and I felt responsible that I had to tell them exactly what was going on and that it was going to end up ugly,” he said.
At another point in the day, Depp’s former girlfriend Kate Moss appeared via a live video conference to testify on behalf of her ex. Moss said there was no truth to rumors Depp pushed her down a flight of stairs.
“He never kicked me, pushed me or threw me down any stairs,” the supermodel said during her less than 5-minute long testimony.
Later in the day, a former TMZ staffer was called to testify in the Fairfax, Virginia courtroom.
Morgan Tremaine, a former field assignment manager for the celebrity gossip website took the stand, despite TMZ filing an emergency motion claiming the journalist had a first amendment right to not name a source. However, Judge Penney Azcarate denied the motion.
Tremaine said he sent “paparazzi” to a Los Angeles courthouse to photograph Heard and an “alleged bruise” on May 27, 2016, when she filed for a temporary restraining order against Depp.
“Their objective was to capture her leaving the courthouse and then she was going to sort of stop, and turn toward the camera to display the bruise on the right side of her face,” Tremaine told the court.
He said the tip about Heard at the courthouse did not have to be vetted because “it came directly from a news producer.”
TMZ has a long history of breaking celebrity news. Some of the details come directly from the celebrities themselves, who routinely develop relationships with producers and tip them off to their plans and whereabouts.
Still, Heard previously testified that she was not responsible for stories about her split from Depp being leaked to TMZ.
TMZ ran an exclusive story and a video showing Depp attacking kitchen cabinets. The video, which Heard admitted to filming on her cell phone, was used as evidence in the case. Tremaine said the footage was sent to TMZ via an “email tipline” on August 12, 2016.
Tremaine said videos sent anonymously through the tipline typically undergo a lengthy verification process to identify who shot the video before it’s used by the outlet. However, the cell phone video of Depp was verified and posted in about “15 minutes,” according, to Tremaine.
Depp’s attorney, previously accused Heard of giving the website the video and said in court on May 17, that the website had even copyrighted the footage.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million claiming she libeled him in the 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post. Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim for defamation for Depp’s attorney calling her a “liar.”
Closing arguments are expected to begin Friday.