The Chaotic Mess of Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard

Hannah Stickney, Staff Writer

In recent weeks, if you were scrolling through Twitter or TikTok, there’s a good chance you saw something about acclaimed actor, Johnny Depp, in court with actress, Amber Heard. You could have come across someone calling “Amber Turd” a “gold digger.” Maybe it’s Johnny roasting Heard’s lawyer, or maybe it’s actual court footage, but what’s actually going on? What are all these clips of Heard crying her eyes out about? If you’ve been curious, or want to know what all the court clips circling are about, here’s an overview of the whole mess between the actors. 

In the most simple terms, Depp (58) says Heard (36) abused him, but Heard says Depp abused her. The question is: whose claim is accurate?

Most of the internet has sided with Depp for various reasons, such as having a massive fanbase for his works and being an overall loveable guy. 

Depp and Heard first met while on the set of The Rum Diary in 2009. As of then, both were in other relationships. Heard’s career was just beginning to spark with bigger roles, such as queen Mera in Aquaman, while Johnny’s was downward spiraling for the public to see. 

Throughout the 2010s, Depp’s career in film dwindled significantly. Then, according to, “In 2017 Depp sued both his longtime business managers and his entertainment lawyer, claiming they had mismanaged his finances.” Around this time, Rolling Stone called Depp “a punchline: bankrupt, isolated and one more mistake away from being blackballed from his industry.”

After both ended their other relationships, they started dating in 2012. They got engaged in 2014, and got married the next year. In 2016, Heard filed for divorce, then filed a request for a restraining order four days later. 

Depp is suing Heard for defamation because she published an op-ed (an opinion piece) saying “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change,” in the Washington Post in 2018. She never mentions Depp but refers to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” 

After some arguing from Depp and his lawyers, a judge agreed Heard’s statement clearly implies Depp abused her during their short marriage.

The first public accusation was made by Heard in May 2016 for domestic violence. Days after filing for divorce, she got a temporary restraining order. Depp’s lawyer immediately claimed Heard was lying and was actually “attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse.” 

They reached an out-of-court divorce settlement in August of 2016, and Heard withdrew her permanent restraining order request. Strangely, both claimed none of the contradictory statements they made were true. 

Heard apparently received $7 million from the settlement which she said she divided between two charities. This might mean that she wasn’t lying about being abused in her marriage, since she didn’t get any money out of it. 

Why would she make such an allegation if it weren’t true? Despite this evidence to Heard’s advantage, gossip outlets sided with Depp immediately and said Heard was lying. Heard says in her op-ed that she was dropped from a movie and fashion advertising campaign after bringing her alleged abuse to the public. In contrast, Depp kept working and it was announced in December of 2016 that he would star in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 

In March of 2019, Depp filed a defamation lawsuit against Heard seeking $50 million. Heard counter-claimed for $100 million in January of 2021. This will probably go to court in Virginia later this year. The current trial is Depp’s lawsuit against Heard. 

This case is sort of a do-over. In 2018, Depp sued British newspaper, the Sun, for calling him a “wife-beater” in a published article. The case was brought to British courts. Eventually, the judge decided the claims that Depp was abusive to Heard were “substantially true.” The judge concluded that 12 of the 14 alleged instances of domestic abuse had taken place. The judge also said “I do not accept this characterization of Ms. Heard,” about her being a gold-digger seeking financial gains. Rolling Stone says, “Speaking outside court on the last day of the trial in July, Ms. Heard said the case had been “incredibly painful” and she just wants to “move on with her life.”

Back to Fairfax County, Virginia, where the current case is happening, here are a few of the most discussed instances of alleged abuse:

  1. The first act of alleged abuse was Depp slapping Heard three times after she laughed at his tattoos. “I will never forget it,” Heard said. “It changed my life.”
  2. Severed finger, March 2015, Australia

Heard says he took 8-10 MDMA pills around the time, and that somehow led to his injured finger. “Because I’d be dead. Pretty sure I’d be dead,” Depp testified about how he couldn’t have taken that many pills. “I think one would die. Probably rather quickly.” Depp says Heard smashed and cut off the tip of his finger after throwing a glass bottle at him.

  1. Graphic texts, August 2016

One text Depp sent to a friend concerning Heard said she was “begging for total global humiliation … She’s gonna get it,” adding “I can only hope that karma kicks in and takes the gift of breath from her …” Depp said he sent uninhibited texts like this because “When you’re accused of horrific acts and things that you have not done it’s actually some very ugly things that are going out there into the world about you on a non-stop basis by Ms. Heard and her team, you have a tendency, as humans, to get very, very irate and angry,” Depp testified. “Not to the point where you go out and hurt someone, not to the point where you even assault a cabinet, but you do get irate, you do wonder why this person is doing this to me.” 


Of course, there are many other instances to note, these are just a few.

“In one audio recording, Heard seemingly admits to having “hit” Depp while also denying that she punched him. In another recording, Heard says: “Tell people it was a fair fight and see what the jury and judge think. Tell the world, Johnny. Tell them, ‘I, Johnny Depp, I’m a victim too of domestic violence, and it was a fair fight,’ and see if people believe or side with you,” (NBC News). Heard says the only time she hit Depp was to defend herself and her sister. Depp and Heard’s former marriage counselor said she observed “mutual abuse.” Depp’s security team says they never witnessed Depp assault Heard, but their relationship was unpredictable. Even if it was “mutual abuse” and Heard was the aggressor, she could still make the claims she did. This does not help Depp’s case. “The piece of evidence is the ‘X factor’ that was the hypnotic testimony and general star power of Johnny Depp. If he weren’t Johnny Depp, the first five minutes of his eccentric, bizarre style of testifying would have turned off, I think, every jury and every lawyer and every judge,” Danny Cevallos, NBC legal analyst said. 

On Wednesday, June 1, the jury found that Heard defamed him with her allegations of domestic violence. The jury decided the final verdict, awarding Depp $15 million in damages and Heard $2 million in damages. 


Johnny Depp Loses Libel Case Against ‘The Sun’ Newspaper – Rolling Stone 

The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial, explained – Vox 

Johnny Depp loses libel case over Sun ‘wife beater’ claim – BBC News 

Johnny Depp testifies for a second time: ‘No matter what happens, I did get here and I did tell the truth’ 

Inside the key allegations in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial