Lawyer for Johnny Depp blasts Amber Heard as a liar and careerist at start of contentious defamation trial
- Johnny Depp's lawyer blasted
Amber Heardin opening statements for the trial over his defamationlawsuit.
- It launched what's sure to be a harsh trial over each of their accusations of domestic abuse.
A lawyer for
Benjamin Chew, the attorney, said the Washington Post op-ed Heard published in December 2018, describing herself as a victim of domestic violence, "falsely and unfairly characterized Mr. Depp as a villain — a man who would violently abuse women." He said that the claims had ruined Depp's career and alienated him from producers who once feted the movie star.
"When, like Mr. Depp, your career depends on your image and your reputation, or whether movie producers want their movie associated with you, that can be particularly harmful," Chew told the court.
The opening statements kick off what promises to be a highly charged, personal trial.
The case has been simmering since March 2019, when Depp filed the lawsuit against Heard. While Heard's op-ed didn't use Depp's name, Depp's lawsuit said any reasonable reader would understand it to be a reference to their tumultuous relationship and divorce after 15 months of marriage. At the time of the divorce, Heard obtained a restraining order against Depp, alleging physical abuse. Depp's lawsuit alleges that Heard faked the incident she used to support her restraining order application, and had in fact abused Depp herself.
In court papers, Depp's lawyers alleged Heard lied in order to advance her own career. The op-ed was published at around the same time movie she starred in, "Aquaman," was released in theaters.
"By choosing to lie about her husband for her own personal benefit, Amber Heard chose to ruin his reputation," Chew said Tuesday.
Depp's lawyers say his career and reputation are at stake
Depp has already lost a lawsuit in the UK, where he sued The Sun, a British tabloid, for calling him a "wife beater" based on Heard's claims. His new lawsuit, filed against Heard in Fairfax County, Virginia, faces long odds, experts say, given how the UK has much friendlier libel laws for plaintiffs. He also faces a counterclaim from Heard, which outlined 10 different specific experiences of domestic violence from Depp and asked for $100 million in damages. The judge overseeing the case said she'll reserve the right to rule on Heard's counterclaims until after the trial.
But the lawsuit may be the only way for Depp to clear his name and save his career. The trial begins just as "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" enters theaters. The "Harry Potter" movie was once set to star Depp — he played one of the main characters in the previous film, "The Crimes of Grindelwald" — but was replaced in November 2020 by Mads Mikkelsen. Warner Bros. asked Depp to resign from the series around the time of his UK trial, when Heard testified against him.
"Mr. Depp will go to his grave knowing that whatever he does, there are people who will believe he fully abused a woman," Camille Vasquez, another lawyer for Depp, told jurors Tuesday.
Depp's lawsuit credits Heard's allegations with ruining his career. In addition to losing the "Fantastic Beasts" role, Depp — once one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood — lost a starring role in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, which Disney announced it would discontinue shortly after the publication of Heard's Washington Post op-ed.
In opening statements Tuesday, Chew said Depp had never been accused of wrongdoing throughout his prior relationships.
"No one had ever, in five decades, had accused Mr. Depp of being violent with women," he said.
Vasquez, who continued the opening statements after Chew, told jurors that Depp may have his demons, but that he would never abuse Heard. She said Depp's mother "lived in anger" that often "boiled over" and resulted in the domestic abuse of Depp and his father. But, like his father, Depp's reaction was to sit there and take it.
She also admitted that Depp took drugs and drank alcohol. According to Heard, Depp's drug usage led to violent episodes. Vasquez told jurors not to believe her.
"Struggling with drugs and alcohol doesn't make you an abuser," she said.
Both Heard and Depp have indicated in court filings that they intend to call
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