Johnny Depp took the witness stand Tuesday in his defamation trial, saying there was no truth to ex-wife Amber Heard’s domestic abuse claims. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor also admitted taking drugs for years and said he turned to substances to “escape” personal problems.
Depp told the court he began using drugs at a very young age, recalling popping his mom’s “nerve pills” at 11 years old, to “escape caring and feeling so much” and to “escape the chaotic nature” of his home life.
The actor insisted he’s never taken drugs to party. Instead, he used them to “numb” the pain. Depp added that the characterizations Heard has made about his drug addiction are “grossly embellished” and called her claims “plainly false.” He said he became an easy target because Heard knew the secrets of his life and used them against him. “I’m not some maniac that needs to be high or loaded all the time,” he testified.
The actor met Heard ahead of the making of “The Rum Diary.” They were both in relationships at the time, but he said they experienced magic on set. “There was something in the kiss in the shower, it was real,” said Depp about a scene the pair shot for the film.
After the two began dating, Depp said their relationship seemed “too good to be true.”
“She was attentive,” he recalled. “She was loving. She was smart. She was kind. She was funny. She was understanding … We had many things in common, certain blues music … literature.”
But he said it didn’t last long. “Within a year and a half she became another person almost,” he explained. The two married in 2015 and Heard filed for divorce in 2016.
The actor also addressed the impact Heard’s domestic abuse claims had on his once red-hot acting career. “It’s very strange when one day you’re Cinderella, so to speak, and then in 6 seconds you’re Quasimodo,” he said.
Depp said he waited six years to tell his story, and called Heard’s allegations “heinous and disturbing.” He told the court the “Aquaman” actress’ accusations were “not based in any species of truth” and “I want to clear my name.”
He added that “nothing of the kind had ever happened” regarding abusing Heard. In defending himself he said, “Never did I reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way or any woman in my life.”
After Heard wrote an op-ed published in the Washington Post in 2018, Depp said he feared his acquaintances thought he was a “fraud.”
“My goal is the truth because it killed me that all these people I had met over the years … that these people would think that I was a fraud,” he said.
Depp noted it was important for him to shield his children from seeing him as a “novelty” and said, “I just wanted to be a dad.”
“I had to stand up for myself in that instance but also for my children,” he added, noting that it was “diabolical” that his children were approached about Heard’s claims by their classmates at school.
He said the case has been “exposing” for himself, his family and Heard, but he took the case to trial to tell his side of the story.
Speaking of his family growing up, Depp said he and his siblings faced physical and verbal violence and abuse and bullying from their mother. It was “a constant” said Depp, adding that he was shell-shocked as a child. “You learn to deal with it,” he said. He described his mother as cruel and said, “We had to take it. You just had to take the pain.” He said when his mother would get riled up, he took the brunt of it.
Depp said his father was a good man and despite dealing with his abusive mother, his father never hit or said a mean thing to his mother. He did witness his father punch walls on several occasions but said the elder Depp wasn’t abusive. Eventually, his father left and Depp’s mother tried to commit suicide.
Depp told the court he was a musician and never wanted to be an actor, he viewed his early films as a way to “pay the bills and live.” He started playing music at age twelve and was obsessed with his guitar, “that saved my life.” Depp added that drawing was also an outlet that allowed him to create and said he “would draw to release horrific memories.”
Depp described himself as a “shy, introverted person.” After filming “Pirates of the Caribbean Depp,” he said said adjusting to being famous and losing his anonymity was tough. He said taking his children to the park or movies became a “strategic mission.” However, Depp said he’d never complain about the success he’s had.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million claiming she libeled him in a 2018 op-ed piece in the Washington Post, derailing his career. Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim for defamation for calling her a “liar.”
The actor is expected to resume his testimony Wednesday. Heard is also expected to take the stand in the case which could last several weeks.
Anita Bennett contributed to this report.