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Johnny Depp became 'monster' on drug and alcohol, court hears
Johnny Depp became 'monster' on drug and alcohol, court hears / Photo: © POOL/AFP

Johnny Depp became 'monster' on drug and alcohol, court hears

"Pirates of the Caribbean" star Johnny Depp physically and sexually abused his then-wife Amber Heard during drug- and alcohol-fueled binges in which he became a "monster," her lawyers told a court on Tuesday.

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Depp's attorneys countered on the opening day of his blockbuster defamation case against Heard that the allegations were untrue and have had a "devastating" impact on his Hollywood career.

The 58-year-old Depp filed a defamation suit against the 35-year-old Heard after she wrote a column for The Washington Post in December 2018 in which she described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse."

The actress never named Depp, who she met in 2009 on the set of the film "The Rum Diary," but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and is seeking $50 million in damages.

Heard, who was married to Depp from 2015 to 2017, countersued, asking for $100 million and claiming she suffered "rampant physical violence and abuse" at his hands.

Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, one of Heard's lawyers, detailed the alleged abuse in her opening statement in the case being heard in Fairfax County Circuit Court.

She told the jury they would be shown graphic photographs. "They show bruises, they show cut lips, they show hair pulled out," Bredehoft said. "They show two black eyes when he head-butted her."

She said Heard would always carry a makeup kit around with her to hide bruises.

"He has an enormous amount of rage," Bredehoft said. "It's during these rages that Mr Depp engaged in verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of Amber."

"She loved the side of Johnny that we see in the movies -- the charismatic one, the charming one, the generous one," Bredehoft said. "That's the man she fell in love with.

"But sadly, the monster came in the way and that monster would come out when he was drinking and when he would take drugs."

Ben Rottenborn, another lawyer for Heard, told the jury they are "going to see who the real Johnny Depp is."

"Behind the red carpets, behind the fame, behind the money, behind the Pirate costumes you're going to see who that man really is."

- 'Tell him he was a coward' -

Benjamin Chew, one of Depp's lawyers, rejected the accusations of abuse and said the actor had never struck Heard -- or any other woman.

"No one had ever in five decades accused Johnny Depp of being violent with a woman," Chew said.

Camille Vasquez, another lawyer for Depp, alleged it was Heard who could be violent, "throwing things at him, hitting him."

"She would tell him he was a coward, tell him he wasn't man enough because he wouldn't stay and fight with her," Vasquez said.

Chew said the allegations of domestic abuse levelled against Depp had harmed his career.

"For nearly 30 years, Mr Depp built a reputation as one of the most talented actors in Hollywood," Chew told the jury. "Today his name is associated with a lie, a false statement uttered by his former wife, the defendant, Amber Heard.

"And when like Mr Depp, your career depends upon your image and your reputation, or whether movie producers want their films associated with you, that harm can be particularly devastating," Chew said.

"Hollywood studios don't want to deal with the public backlash from hiring someone accused of abuse," he said. "A false allegation can devastate a career."

Depp filed the defamation complaint against Heard in the United States after losing a separate, high-profile libel case in London in November 2020 which he brought against The Sun for calling him a "wife-beater."

In 2016, Heard sought a restraining order against Depp amid abuse allegations. Their divorce was finalized in 2017 with Heard receiving a $7 million settlement.

A panel of seven jurors and four alternates is hearing the case between Depp, star of "Edward Scissorhands" and the "Pirates" series, and Heard, who had a starring role in "Aquaman."

Depp was wearing a black three-piece suit with a black shirt and white tie in court and did not appear to look over at Heard, who was wearing a grey pant suit and black shirt.

Both Depp and Heard are expected to testify along with actors James Franco and Paul Bettany, and billionaire Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk, Heard's former boyfriend.

The state also has defamation laws considered to be more favorable to plaintiffs than those in California, where the actors live.

The trial, presided over by Judge Penney Azcarate, is expected to last several weeks.