FAIRFAX, Va. — A sullen and slow-talking Johnny Depp flatly denied ever hitting a woman in court testimony Tuesday — telling the jury he sued ex-wife Amber Heard to “clear my name” after she accused him of domestic abuse.
Dressed in an all-black three piece suit, his hair slicked back into a tight ponytail, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star took the stand in his $50 million defamation suit against Heard after a week of testimony from his family, friends, and medical professionals.
“My goal is the truth,” he said. “One day you’re Cinderella and then in zero point six seconds you’re Quasimodo. I didn’t deserve that and neither did my children.
“Never did I myself reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way nor have I ever struck any woman in my life,” he continued.
Depp, 58, is claiming Heard defamed him in a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post where she called herself a victim of “sexual violence.”
He was not named in the essay, but he claims it clearly referenced him — and ruined his career, damaged his reputation and lost him tens of millions of dollars.
Depp lamented having to testify in the suit, telling the jury: “It never had to go in this direction.”
Still, the actor remained steadfast in his decision to sue his ex-wife over her allegations of domestic abuse.
“I cant say I’m embarrassed because I know I’m doing the right thing,” he said in court, adding he had a “responsibility to clear my name.”
Depp described himself as a “very private person” and said testifying wasn’t easy for him.
“For me to come up here and stand before you —or sit before you all — and spill the truth is quite exposing,” he said.
For more than an hour, Depp launched into his side of the story, rambling about his tumultuous childhood where he said his late mother, Betty Sue Palmer, routinely physically and verbally abused him.
“There was quite a lot of name calling,” and as a child he lived in fear of Betty Sue who hit him with a belt and derided him for having to wear an eye patch, he said. He found the “verbal” and “psychological” abuse to be almost worse than the routine beatings.
Depp also said his addiction issues began at just 11 years old, when he would fetch his mom her “nerve pills” — and pop one himself.
“I’d done pretty much all the drugs I was aware of by the time I was 15 years old,” he testified.
“It’s never been for the party effect,” Depp said. “It’s been for trying to numb the things inside that can plague someone who has experienced trauma.”
The actor also slammed Heard’s allegations about his drinking and drug abuse, saying they were “grossly embellished” and mostly “plainly false.”
Fans of Depp, who travelled from around to the world to visit him, weeped as he recounted his traumatic upbringing.
“I’m crying because I see a broken man,” Jacinda Gillepsie, who flew in from Australia, told The Post.
Court attendees sat gripped to the three-time Oscar nominee’s words, and many of them sniffled as he spoke. Online, hundreds of thousands watched him speak via a livestream.
Depp testified for long stretches of time without interruption — and even admitted during one particularly verbose answer: “I forgot what the original question was.”
He didn’t speak at length about Heard, 35, other than to recall the early days of their relationship, telling the jury: “It was as if she was too good to be true.”
“She was attentive, she was loving, she was smart, she was kind, she was funny, she was understanding … we had many things in common, certain blues music, music, literature, for that year, year and a half, it was amazing,” he said. “She seemed to be the perfect partner in a sense, in my head.”
Depp admitted he was aware of the large age gap between them, but said: “I didn’t understand why, as a 50-some-year-old man, I couldn’t go to sleep when I wanted to.
“I acknowledge the fact I was the old, craggy fogey and she was this beautiful, creature,” he added, comparing them to Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, another Hollywood couple with a large age difference.
Heard — who is expected to testify at a later date — stared straight at her ex as he testified, looking steely in a cream blouse. The only time she seemed to take her eyes off him was when he droned on about his career.
The “Aquaman” star, who filed for divorce in May 2016 after less than two years of marriage, has repeatedly claimed Depp physically abused her, describing him as a drug-addicted madman who threatened her life and made their relationship hell.
Depp apologized in court for foul language he used in text messages to Heard, many of which were presented to the jury last week.
“I am ashamed of some of the references made,” he told the jury. “I’m embarrassed that at the time the heat of the moment, the heat of the pain that I was feeling went to dark places.”
Testimony revealed that Depp repeatedly called Heard a “c–t” and once texted his friend that he hoped her “rotting corpse was decomposing in the f–king trunk of a Honda Civic.”
“Pain has to be dealt with humor, something dark, very dark humor,” Depp said Tuesday.
He repeatedly discussed his children, 22-year-old Lily-Rose and 20-year-old Jack, in the beginning of his testimony.
“I felt it my responsibility to stand up not only for myself in that instance but stand up for my children, who at the time were 14 and 16, so they were in high school,” he said of his decision to publicly rebuke Heard’s allegations.
“I thought it was diabolical that my children would have to go to school and have their friends or people in the school approach them with the infamous People magazine cover with Ms. Heard with a dark bruise on their face…and then it kept multiplying, it kept getting bigger and bigger.”
While his movies have grossed billions, lining his coffers in the process, Depp spoke of his fame as a prison, looking at the jurors as he described the difficulties of being so well-known.
He said “it all went weird” after the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, detailing how he was forced to change his daily routines and hire extra security.
Depp described how stalkers would try to climb the gates of his house — including one who wore a Jack Sparrow costume — which elicited laughs from the courtroom.
Security seemed beefed up on Tuesday after three people were booted from court last week, with nearly a dozen Fairfax County sheriff’s deputies stationed outside the courtroom before Depp testified.
Depp was still being questioned by his own lawyers when Judge Penney Azcarate dismissed the jury for the evening at 5 p.m. He’s expected to be back on the stand Wednesday.
The libel trial got underway last week, with Depp’s legal team claiming that Heard’s lies about the abuse have severely damaged the actor’s reputation and career.
The Walt Disney Company, which owns the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, cut ties with the actor, who starred as Captain Jack Sparrow, shortly after the publication of Heard’s opinion piece.
Heard’s attorneys, who have filed a countersuit against Depp, argued that nothing in her Washington Post essay defamed him — and that his own depraved behavior ruined his career.
The six-week trial is only just beginning, with testimony still to come from Paul Bettany, James Franco and Tesla founder Elon Musk.
Additional reporting by Snejana Farberov