Johnny Depp has faced hours of tough questioning from Amber Heard’s lawyer during his libel trial – with graphic texts about his ex-wife and photos of messages written in paint and blood from his severed finger shown in court.
Facing cross-examination on the seventh day of the hearing – and Depp‘s third on the witness stand – the actor sat through a full day of evidence presented against him as Heard‘s lawyer Ben Rottenborn cast doubt over his claims that it was the actress who was violent in their relationship, not him.
There was a definite shift in mood from Wednesday’s hearing, when the actor gave his version of events, prompted by his own lawyers. On Thursday, he clashed with Mr Rottenborn several times.
The court was shown message exchanges between Depp and British actor Paul Bettany, in which they discussed “burning” and “drowning” Heard.
Depp was also questioned on the former couple’s stay in Australia in March 2015, while he was filming the fifth Pirates Of The Caribbean film out there – a fight between the couple which resulted in the star severing his finger has been discussed a lot in court and become the most notorious incident between the pair.
Heard’s lawyer referenced Depp’s history of trashing hotel rooms and his smashing of a bathroom sconce during one argument with Heard. He claims Depp cannot deny abusing Heard because he was often drunk and high to the point of blacking out.
Key points from Depp’s cross-examination – Day 7 of the trial
• The court was shown graphic texts sent by Depp about Heard, in which he called her a “slippery whore”, among other insults
• Mr Rottenborn accused the actor of lying about his drug use at the time of filming the fifth Pirates Of The Caribbean film
• The jury was shown photos of mirrors on which Depp wrote messages in blood and paint during the fight in Australia
• Audio recordings were also played, with Depp heard saying in one that he was “jealous and f****** crazy” and asking Heard to cut him in another
• Catch up on what has been said so far in our live reporting of the trial as it happens
Depp is suing Heard for libel for $50m (£38.2m), while Heard has issued a counterclaim for $100m (£76.4m).
The trial, which has seen various claims of drink and drugs binges, has been brought over a 2018 article Heard wrote in The Washington Post, which Depp’s lawyers say falsely implies he physically and sexually abused her – even though he is not named in it.
On Thursday, Mr Rottenborn presented several emails and text messages that Depp sent to Heard, friends, family and associates, which were often filled with expletives and vulgar descriptions.
Messaging Bettany in 2013, Depp said: “Let’s burn Amber.” He added later: “Let’s drown her before we burn her. I will f*** her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”
In a statement to Sky News’ US affiliate NBC, a representative for Depp said the texts were a reference to a Monty Python scene, “which Johnny has already testified is one of his favorite movies”.
He and Bettany “bonded over the film and often made references to the movie in text exchanges”, the representative continued.
“They both knew exactly what they were referring to and as Bettany has attested to before – ‘we live in a world without context… Can you imagine what it would be like, honestly, to have a bunch of lawyers go through every one of your emails and texts for 10 years?'”
Following their break-up, Depp referred to his wife as a “slippery whore” in a message to another friend.
In court, Depp said he was “not proud of any of the language… used in anger.”
Much of the evidence heard so far at the US trial, taking place in Virginia, has made reference to Depp’s use of substances while he and Heard were together, which the actress’s lawyers say triggered violent episodes.
Jurors were shown messages in which Depp apparently discussed drug use, as well as a photo which showed cocaine on a table.
Before showing one set of messages to the court, Mr Rottenborn asked Depp, who grew up in Kentucky, if he lived up to the standards of a “southern gentleman”.
“When you have deep, deep roots in the south… you’re raised to be a southern gentleman, that is to say when chivalry was still alive and allowed,” Mr Depp responded. “I believe I do (live up to the standards), I have certainly done my best all my life.”
Jurors also were shown a video clip, secretly filmed by Heard, that showed Depp smashing and kicking kitchen cabinets at his home in West Hollywood.
The trial has previously heard that the former couple would sometimes record conversations, and clips were also played in court on Thursday. “I become irrational when you’re doing movies,” Depp could be heard saying in one. “I become jealous and f****** crazy and weird, you know, we fight a lot more.”
What really happened in Australia?
Heard’s lawyer told Depp he had questions about how he sustained the injury to his finger while in Australia in 2015 – which the court was shown a graphic photo of on Wednesday.
The actor has told the court the tip of his finger was sliced when Amber Heard threw a vodka bottle, which then shattered. She is yet to give her testimony in this trial, but is set to dispute this and say her ex-husband caused the injury himself.
Mr Rottenborn presented photos from the day the injury was sustained to the court, showing messages written on mirrors with paint and blood from Depp’s severed finger. “Starring Billy Bob and Easy Amber,” Depp wrote in one message – a reference to Heard having been away filming with actor Billy Bob Thornton shortly before her arrival in Australia.
The jury was then shown messages and played audio recordings referencing the finger, with Depp saying in them that he had “chopped my finger off” – seemingly contradicting his allegation that Heard caused the injury.
The trial at Fairfax County District Court continues on Monday, with Depp due to return to the stand then.