Friday 30 September 2016

Amber's charity silences gold-digger accusations

Video of Depp's temper destroyed his defence, says Sarah Caden, but Heard's donation stumped her critics

Sarah Caden

Published 21/08/2016 | 02:30

HAPPIER TIMES: Amber Heard and Johnny Depp at the Venice Film Festival last September. She has donated all of last week’s $7m divorce settlement to charity. Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
HAPPIER TIMES: Amber Heard and Johnny Depp at the Venice Film Festival last September. She has donated all of last week’s $7m divorce settlement to charity. Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

The video, in the end, was the clincher. It seemed to prove that Johnny Depp can be a violent man. But it didn't prove that Amber Heard wasn't the money-grabbing fight-picking schemer she was made out to be.

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The leaked video clip ruined Depp's defence and probably secured Heard her subsequent $7m (¤6.2m) divorce settlement last week, but it didn't redeem her.

No, what that took was what happened next.

In their joint statement post-settlement, Depp (53) and Heard (30) spoke together about good intentions and good will, and concluded with the sentence: "Amber will be donating financial proceeds from the divorce to a charity." To which the cynical response would have been: oh yeah, how much? To which the answer, on Thursday, was, well, all of it.

Hollywood star Johnny Depp may or may not be destroyed by what has unfolded in the past months, but actress Amber Heard has been equally damaged.

Shamefully, the suggestion that she was gold-digging was given equal weight to the suggestion that he was violent. As if they're equally bad and, weirdly, in some ways, her role was worse.

She was a bitch, she wound him up, and, let's not pretend otherwise, she was asking for it. And, of course, she saw him coming with his bags of cash. But, in the end, she didn't take the bags of cash. No doubt, someone, somewhere, will put a cynical spin on this, but it's a bit late for that now.

We saw what we saw of Depp on that damning video. It wasn't a pretty manoeuvre on the part of whoever leaked it, presumably someone on Amber Heard's side as she has denied it, but the ugliness of Johnny Depp far outweighed the underhand nature of both the filming of his temper and the leaking of the clip.

Once the video was out, it didn't really matter what Depp, or even Heard, had to say in the depositions they were due to give only a few days later in her domestic abuse case against him.

It didn't matter, either, that Depp was going to have his ex, and mother of his two teenage children, Vanessa Paradis (43), to defend his character. It didn't matter how much a portrait had been painted, in the last three months, of Heard as a lying gold-digger. The visual evidence of Depp's temper, as seen on the leaked video last weekend, said it all.

He was scary. No one could argue with that.

The video, released to website TMZ and reportedly filmed earlier this year, shows Depp on a rampage around a kitchen, presumably in the couple's house. He slams cupboard doors, paces angrily around the room and shouts at a woman, presumably Heard, whose back is to the camera, which may be a phone or laptop or tablet placed on a table.

We don't know if it is she who starts the recording, or if it was someone other than the couple. We don't know a lot of things, though Johnny Depp's representatives have said that the video is heavily edited. And it has been reported that in the unedited clip, Heard is seen smiling and "encouraging" him, whatever that means.

Read more: Amber Heard gives Johnny Depp divorce settlement millions to charity

Regardless, in the video, Heard asks him if he's drunk almost a full bottle of wine that morning, and she tries to remind him that "nothing bad happened", as if to reorient and calm him.

He spins further in a rage, pouring himself a gigantic glass of wine when she challenges him on his drinking, smashing the camera to the floor when he rumbles the recording. He's scary.

And that was the clincher.

It doesn't matter if she was smiling or encouraging. It doesn't matter what her motives were for recording him. It doesn't matter whether Amber Heard is a good, bad or indifferent wife or woman. He was scary and drunk. It was there to see.

We saw what she was talking about on the video, the release of which was followed by allegations that he had needed surgery on his fingertip last year, when he cut it open to write in blood on a mirror the accusation of an affair between Heard and Billy Bob Thornton.

Last Tuesday, then, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard settled their differences. Their joint statement spoke of a relationship that was "intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love," and of how "neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm."

The following day Heard was awarded the $7m. It was tens of millions of dollars less than 'people close to Depp' had suggested she had been trying to 'squeeze' out of him with the threat of destroying his reputation.

And yet, almost immediately, she gave away all of it to the American Civil Liberties Union and to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles. She said, specifically, that "money played no role for me personally and never has, except to the extent that I could donate it to charity and, in doing so, hopefully help those less able to defend themselves".

In another twist, Heard's legal team were forced to retract a statement they issued without Heard's approval, after complaints from Depp's lawyers. In it they said that their client had been "vindicated in the court of public opinion." In their retraction they said that their claim of "vindication in the court of public opinion was not true. We regret the error and apologise to Johnny Depp."

There have been no anonymous mutterings from Depp's side since Heard's gesture. The bad word would be to say that she gave it all away to silence the naysayers and limit long-term damage, but such talk would do Depp more damage than her. And enough damage has been done to Depp, by his own hand, you could say.

Vanessa Paradis has said that a violent Depp is not the man she knew. The drunk Johnny Depp on that leaked videotape may not be the man she knew either. Which is not to say that Amber Heard brought it out in him. But that mayve Johnny Depp needs help.

Sunday Independent

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