More than six years ago Amber Heard taunted her ‘big baby’ husband Johnny Depp, urging him to tell the world he was a victim of abuse.
To say he was a husband who got hit by his wife, and see who would believe him. This week in court he held up his right hand and did just that.
Not to swear an oath, but to show the damage to one of his fingers. The actor alleges the top of it was severed after Heard threw a second bottle of vodka at him, after the first one missed.
‘It’s mangled,’ he said, his small fingers spread out like a starfish, the middle one indeed looking as if a passing crab had nipped off the top.
Following the incident, which took place in Australia in 2015, Depp went predictably Deppesque, using the pumping stump as a handy paint brush, writing in a frenzy on walls and lampshades and mirrors.
When the blood ‘dried up’ Johnny, who claimed he was in the throes of shock and nervous breakdown, then dipped the stump in some paint and carried on writing; words, words, words.
Today he is not sure what they were, but witnesses at the scene claimed they still made more sense than some paragraphs in culture secretary Nadine Dorries’ latest novel.
Actor Amber Heard speaks to her legal team during her ex-husband Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against her, at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia
And there were drawings, too. One of Miss Heard’s lawyers suggested Depp had also obscenely defaced an artwork during this creative splurge, which he denied.
‘Drawing a penis on a painting was not the first thing on my mind,’ he said, but when is it ever, unless you are a Westminster MP upset because the porn channels have been blocked.
Anyway, Depp suggested, maybe Miss Heard was the real culprit? Everyone looked puzzled. Amber has her faults, but was she really an organ-daubing gorgon?
Perhaps she liked to do this after — no, stop. Let us never speak of the bedsheets again, I beg of you. But no.
On Thursday one of Depp’s former bodyguards testified that Miss Heard told him the unmentionable incident was a practical joke that had — is this appropriate? — backfired.
Oh my God, this trial. How are any of us going to survive it? After 12 days of evidence in a case expected to run until the end of May, we know more about the marriage of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard than is entirely healthy or wise.
Here they are, these beautiful people whose life together was lived out on a pirate’s plank of manipulations and petty cruelties.
Two lovebirds tearing the wings off each other amid a fusillade of hurled bottles, cans, cigarette lighters and insults.
They were a golden couple blessed with looks, talent and riches; a couple who should have everything but instead have nothing, not even peace of mind.
Every day they pitch up in Fairfax County Circuit Court ready for showtime; Amber with her buttery hair styled in everything from milkmaid plaits to demure bun.
Johnny with his three-piece suits and resin-framed glasses, rolling his own cigarillos and joshing with the court photographer. No wonder he is chipper.
US actor Johnny Depp watches the jury return following a break during the 50 million US dollar Depp vs Heard defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 28
Earlier in the week a forensic psychologist hired by his team — and who examined Miss Heard for 12 hours — testified that she believed Amber did not have the PTSD she claims is a legacy of her broken marriage.
Even worse, the glamorous Dr Curry said Heard ‘grossly’ overstated her symptoms. ‘On the objective scale of trauma there is a malingering scale and Amber Heard was in the 98th percentile, meaning she had engaged in heavy dishonesty and gross exaggeration,’ she said crisply.
Amber got busy scribbling another of her Post-it notes. It was probably something scholarly and important, but I like to imagine it simply said BITCH.
On Thursday, more damage. Heard’s assiduously cultivated credibility as a philanthropist took a battering when it was claimed she had not, as promised, donated her £5.6million divorce settlement to charity.
She had apparently donated only £1 million — and much of that appeared to have come from her ex-boyfriend, squillionaire Elon Musk.
According to Terence Dougherty, the chief operating officer of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the recipient of Amber’s ‘largesse’, £400,000 came from a Vanguard fund connected to Musk.
Her contributions dried up by 2019, and Dougherty told the court the ACLU ‘learned that she was having financial difficulties’.
Heard looked particularly uncomfortable here, twisting in her chair as if suffering from indigestion. Intriguingly, how does this relate to her sworn witness statement during Depp’s UK libel trial in 2020?
Giving evidence in July of that year, she said: ‘I remained financially independent of him the whole time we were together and the entire amount of my divorce settlement was donated to charity.’
Judge Andrew Nicol, who found against Depp, commented that the ‘donation of the £5.6million to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a golddigger’.
Indeed! Back in Virginia, Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft got bogged down by muffins (don’t ask) and repeatedly asking witnesses — including three policemen and one doorman — if they noticed signs of injury on her client.
When all stated they did not, she quizzed them about the bruises being covered by make-up. ‘Was she wearing concealer?’ she asked.
Yet since Heard brought divorce proceedings and a restraining order against her husband, why would she want or need to cover visible signs of injury, especially from police officers?
Elsewhere we were given a glimpse of Hollywood power players, with agents, lawyers and managers providing testimony.
Depp’s former agent Christian Carino, who was once engaged to Lady Gaga, beamed in from his kitchen, looking bored. Business manager Edward White bristled when Heard’s lawyer tried to make something of his £560 per hour fees.
Oh, the irony. Pot, kettle, black Amex. The personnel crowded into the small court provided a layer cake of life.
Actor Johnny Depp testifies during a hearing in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax on April 20
First there was Depp and Heard, a few wisps of charisma still clinging to each of them. Then their lawyers, as sleek as seals.
After this, the fans and the gogglers in their fleeces and leggings and scrunchies, faces flushed with a queasy kind of excitement.
Outside the court, a young woman called Andrea came with her emotional support llamas every day, with ‘Justice For Johnny’ signs around their necks.
‘I thought they would cheer him up,’ Andrea told the Law & Crime Network. This is what it has come to.
Johnny and Amber have ended up here, in this provincial court in Virginia, unable to hang onto the shreds of whatever it was they once loved about each other. And the things we have heard this week!
They would make a llama blush. A thousand angry Post-it notes won’t wash away these sins.
For Johnny Depp, we are at a magical moment in the trial, when the sun balances on the rim of the world and a rosy light descends.
Yesterday his legal team wound up his case. On Monday, Miss Heard will be presenting her side of the story, and the case will take on a different complexion. One that will pull no punches, so to speak. One of a distinctly Amber hue.