FAIRFAX, Va. — Opening statements in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s dueling defamation lawsuits here Tuesday featured echoes of their 2016 bitter divorce and a similar 2020 libel case in London. There were the same ghastly allegations of drug and alcohol abuse, elaborate lies and physical assault that have already damaged both ex-spouses in the last six years.
Two lawyers each for the two stars, first Depp, then Heard, addressed the jury to present their dramatically differing views of the case.
Depp is suing her for $50 million over a December 2018 op-ed she published in the Washington Post (which is published in Fairfax County outside Washington) claiming to be a victim of domestic abuse, which he denies.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard set to face off again in $50 million (at least) libel trial in Virginia
Heard is countersuing him for $100 million, claiming his former lawyer defamed her in rejecting the claims of abuse she first raised in their corrosive 2016 divorce, which went unproven after the split was settled out of court.
Both Depp and Heard will testify, their lawyers said. The opening statements signaled that this trial, which could last up to six weeks, will be ugly, with both sides accusing the other of lying and wholesale invention with the aim of humiliating the other, and damaging their careers.
But opening statements are not evidence; they’re previews of what each side is going to argue.
“You’re going to see who the real Johnny Depp is, behind the fame, behind the pirate costumes,” promised Heard’s lawyer Benjamin Rottenborn. He predicted a weeks-long “spectacle” trial about the most intimate details of the couple’s 15-month marriage.
“I am sorry Amber will have to relive it, but that is the case Depp chose to bring, and we’re not going to stand by and let them sling mud and make inflated, false statements,” Rottenborn said.