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Acrimonious battle between two Hollywood stars is played out in 'wife-beater' libel case


Johnny Depp pictured at the High Court in London flanked by supporters. Photos: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Johnny Depp pictured at the High Court in London flanked by supporters. Photos: Henry Nicholls/Reuters


Johnny Depp pictured at the High Court in London flanked by supporters. Photos: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Johnny Depp, the actor, referred to the jealous and controlling side of his character as "the monster", blaming "illness" for the violence and abuse he inflicted on his former wife, it has been claimed in court documents.

The Hollywood star is accused of subjecting Amber Heard, the actress, to a catalogue of violence during their marriage in which he allegedly punched, kicked and slapped her, dragged her by the hair and threatened to kill her.

The claims from even before they married in February 2015 emerged at the opening of a libel case brought by Depp against NGN, the publisher of 'The Sun' newspaper. Depp accuses the paper of harming his reputation by stating in an online story in April 2018 that he was a violently abusive "wife beater".

The High Court in London yesterday heard details of Depp's drug use, which began "at a very young age" when he took one of his mother's "nerve pills". In the witness box he admitted he took cocaine and other drugs with Paul Bettany, the British actor described in court as his "drug buddy", and Keith Richards, his favourite guitarist. Depp admitted telling his daughter Lily-Rose (12) - now at 21 an actress and model - to "come to me" if she wanted drugs such as marijuana.

But at the heart of the case were claims that Depp (57) was repeatedly violent against Heard and deserved to be described as a "wife beater".

Opening, Sasha Wass QC, NGN's barrister, said: "[Depp] beat his wife Amber Heard, causing her to suffer significant injury and on occasion leading to her fearing for her life." Ms Wass said the actor was not prepared to accept Heard (34), who arrived with her lawyers in a car that drove into an entrance normally reserved for judges, did not want to "play the role of a supplicant consort".

"Disputes between the two increasingly arose when Heard's professional life clashed with Depp's desire to dominate the relationship," said Ms Wass, adding: "These manifested themselves in arguments where Depp became abusive and aggressively jealous, on occasion falsely accusing Heard of having sexual relationships with her co-stars."

The court was told that when he was sober, Depp was "capable of kindness, charm and generosity", but this changed under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Ms Wass said: "The side of his character which he described as "the monster" was jealous, controlling, violent and savage." Following his alleged rages, Depp would apologise and blame his "illness", saying "the monster" had taken over, she added.

Heard's legal team said it would submit evidence of more than 13 separate occasions when Depp had used physical violence, some of which were allegedly carried out in front of witnesses.

But in a witness statement filed to the court as part of his case, Depp described Heard's claims of "torture and abuse" as "sick" and "completely untrue" and accused her of being the abusive partner in the relationship. He claimed Heard was "sociopathic" and a "narcissist" who suffered "extreme mood swings" and would fly into "violent rages".

However, a message Depp sent about Heard and read out in court referred to her as "not a pain in the arse like the French ex albatross" - a reference to his former partner, Vanessa Paradis, the actress and singer. Depp said the message "doesn't make me feel very pleased with myself", adding "It is very disrespectful and disgusting in a way".

Depp claimed that he resolved to divorce Heard after faeces were left in their bed. He said he understood that she "or possibly one of her friends" had allegedly called it "a harmless prank".

Ellen Barkin, the actress, in a witness statement to a separate libel trial in the US, accused Depp of being "jealous" and "controlling", adding there was "a world of violence" surrounding him.

But Depp told the court he had shunned violence from the moment he heard in 1998 he was to become a father with Paradis, and accused Barkin of harbouring "a grudge".

Depp said Heard had repeatedly punched him in the face on a private charter flight and in a separate incident of severing his finger when she allegedly threw a vodka bottle at him.

The court was played a video Heard recorded without Depp's knowledge, in which he poured himself a "mega-pint of wine'' for breakfast, shouted an obscenity and kicked a cabinet.

Asked by Ms Wass if he agreed he was violent in the clip, Depp said: "I was violent with some cupboards."

Ms Wass pressed him: "We see you now, very charming and polite and very softly spoken, but there is another side of you, isn't there, that is less charming." Depp replied: "I'm afraid that would not be for me to judge."

Heard is represented by solicitor Jennifer Robinson.

The case continues.

Irish Independent