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Johnny Depp denies assaulting ex-wife, testifies he was demeaned and berated
FAIRFAX, Va. — Actor Johnny Depp scoffed at the notion during court testimony Wednesday that his constant quarrels with ex-wife Amber Heard would ever prompt him to hit her.
"Violence isn't necessary," he said from the stand during his libel lawsuit against Heard. "Why would you hit someone to make them agree with you?
Heard has accused Depp of physically and sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions before and during their brief marriage. Depp sued after Heard made an indirect reference to those accusations in a 2018 op-ed piece she wrote for The Washington Post.
Depp began to address Heard's accusations in detail Wednesday. Heard has said the first time she was assaulted was when Depp slapped her in 2013 after she made fun of a tattoo he had — one that used to say "Winona Forever" when he was dating the actress Winona Ryder that he altered to "Wino Forever" after they broke up.
"It didn't happen," he said of the alleged assault. "Why would I take such great offense to someone making fun of a tattoo on my body? That allegation never made any sense to me."
Later, he addressed an alleged assault on a private plane flight in 2014 from Boston to Los Angeles when he was filming the movie "Black Mass." Heard has said Depp became blackout intoxicated and assaulted her on the plane ride.
Depp testified he took two roxycodone pills — an opiate to which he admits he was addicted at the time — and locked himself in the plane bathroom and fell asleep to avoid her badgering.
He took great lengths to explain the difference between falling asleep on opiates and blacking out on alcohol, and insisted throughout his testimony that he was never addicted to booze.
Generally, Heard had a "need for conflict, a need for violence" that "erupts out of nowhere," Depp told the jurors. "And the only thing I learned to do with it is exactly what I did as a child: retreat."
Most of his Depp's Day 1 testimony in Fairfax County Circuit Court focused on his descriptions of a difficult childhood, his rise to fame as an actor after an aborted music career and his early relationship with Heard after meeting her on the 2011 film "The Rum Diary." The two married in 2015 and she filed for divorce a year later.
Taking the stand for a second day, Depp said things began to change in his marriage when he felt that he "was suddenly just wrong about everything" in Heard's eyes.
Depp said that Heard made little digs at him to demean him. The insults escalated into full-fledged circular arguments from which there was "no way in or out," Depp said.
"It was sort of a rapid fire, sort of endless parade of insults," Depp said.
He added: "Ms. Heard was unable to be wrong. It just didn't happen. She couldn't be wrong."
He said he was constantly being told about how wrong he was about various aspects of his life, including his 30-year acting career.
"I was sort of not allowed to be right," he said. "Not allowed to have a voice."
Violence would often ensue, sometimes with a slap or a shove from Heard or his wife throwing a television remote control or a glass of wine in his face, Depp said.
"There were times when I would just go and lock myself in the bathroom or a place where she couldn't get to," Depp said.
"Why did I stay? I stayed I suppose because my father stayed (with my mother) … I didn't want to fail," Depp said. "I wanted to try to make it work. I thought maybe I could help her. I thought maybe I could bring her around."
Depp said he used drugs and drank alcohol as a way to cope with Heard's abuse and said she was also a heavy drinker.
He added: "I had to have something to distance me and distance my heart from those verbal attacks. I had to have something to be able to maintain me."
Depp said he at one point stopped drinking to try to save the relationship. But Depp said Heard refused to abstain, even when he asked her to help him in his sobriety.
Depp sued Heard after she wrote a 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post in which she referred to herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse."
She never mentioned Depp by name, but Depp and his lawyers said it was a clear reference to accusations Heard made in 2016 when the couple divorced and she sought a restraining order against him.
Depp said the accusations and the article contributed to an unfairly ruined reputation that made him a Hollywood pariah and cost him his role in the lucrative "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie franchise.
Heard's lawyers say the article is accurate and does not defame him. They say Depp's ruined reputation is the result of his own bad behavior, including drug and alcohol abuse.
On the stand Tuesday, Depp called the accusations of drug addiction "grossly embellished," though he acknowledged trying every drug known to man and that he started abusing medication at age 11 when he snuck his mother's "nerve pills."
His testimony Tuesday featured long, stream-of-consciousness responses to his lawyer's questions, often wandering well beyond what he was asked.
Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia.