Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s fight left home damaged, witness says
By Julia Jacobs and Colin Moynihan
The property manager at an Australian home where Johnny Depp and Amber Heard stayed in 2015 during their tempestuous marriage testified earlier this week about the damage he surveyed after one of their most fractious clashes.
The manager, Ben King, described touring the place after the fight and finding a scene of broken glass, blood drippings, a damaged bar top and a collapsed pingpong table.
It was the aftermath of an episode that is emblematic of the dueling accusations that have filled the defamation case filed by Depp against Heard. Depp has said that during that fight Heard hurled a vodka bottle at him that shattered and severed his fingertip. She has countered that he severed it himself when he smashed a phone against a wall.
King testified that he found Depp’s fingertip in a “scrunched-up” piece of paper amid the wreckage.
The property manager’s testimony came after Depp finished a fourth and final day on the stand in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia. During his testimony, Depp has described how his relationship with Heard dissolved, sometimes using florid descriptions or pantomiming blows he said she had aimed at him and suggesting he had been “broken” by the experience.
“That’s psychologically, emotionally where I was,” he testified Monday while being questioned by one of his lawyers. “I was at the end.”
In court papers, Heard has accused Depp of repeatedly abusing her throughout their relationship, alleging that he slapped her, kicked her, head-butted her and tore clumps of hair out of her scalp. In 2018, she wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post, describing how her career had been negatively affected by becoming a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
The piece did not name Depp, but he has argued that it clearly was alluding to him and harmed his career and reputation.
Depp previously sued The Sun newspaper in England for printing a headline that called him a “wife beater.” He lost that case in 2020.
Depp and Heard met when Heard was cast as Depp’s love interest in the 2011 film “The Rum Diary.” They were married in 2015 and divorced in 2017.
Testifying Monday, Depp said he learned in a published interview with a Disney executive, dated two days after Heard’s opinion piece came out, that he would not be returning to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise for a potential sixth film. Depp testified that he said he had wanted the characters in the films — including his character, Capt. Jack Sparrow — to have a “proper goodbye.”
Depp appeared to be referring to a 2018 Hollywood Reporter interview with Sean Bailey, a Disney executive, in which the reporter asked, “Can Pirates survive without Johnny Depp?” Bailey responded that he wanted to bring in “a new energy and vitality” to a possible “Pirates” reboot.
“Suddenly I was guilty until proven innocent,” Depp said.
During cross-examination of Depp on Monday, Heard’s lawyers argued that the actor’s reputation had been in decline well before the 2018 article, citing a 2017 Hollywood Reporter article calling him a “star in crisis” and another describing the “diminishing returns of Johnny Depp.”
“It’s a stack of hit pieces generated by Ms. Heard’s publicity team,” Depp responded.
Depp has testified that he never hit Heard — nor any woman — and that she was the aggressor in the relationship, insulting him using demeaning language that escalated into physical violence. Heard has denied hitting Depp except in self-defense or in defense of her sister.
There can be little doubt that the atmosphere between the two was sometimes incendiary.
Depp was confronted during cross-examination with text messages to others in which he referred to Heard using vulgar insults; in response to a particularly graphic and violent text message about Heard, Depp said Monday, “It’s irreverent and abstract humor.”
In his testimony, King said that he had worked at a residence belonging to Depp in London and also at the house in Australia, where Depp stayed while working on one of the “Pirates” films.
He testified that he had seen and heard many arguments between Depp and Heard. Those tended to follow a pattern, King added, in which Depp would leave a room and Heard would follow. King said one dispute in London began when Heard asked Depp why he had taken his hand away from her, adding that he thought she had sounded like a “spoiled teenage child.”
King testified that he was called to the house after Depp’s finger had been severed, and he recalled Heard was sobbing as he entered. The premises were in disarray, he said. A chunk had been broken out of a marble staircase. Blood had stained the carpet and streaked several walls.
In a lower level of the home, King said, there was a smell of alcohol and cans strewn near a bar. He began looking in that area and said he soon found the fingertip, “nested” in a blood-streaked piece of paper. King then placed it into a plastic bag so that it could be rushed to a hospital, he added.
Depp’s finger was later surgically repaired.