Johnny Depp lost everything — his wife, his family, his career. But his lawsuit in Virginia might see him claw back at least his reputation.
Depp is suing his ex-wife Amber Heard in a $50 million defamation suit, and what’s unfolding in the courtroom is a tale of a wife who was perhaps just as abusive as her husband, and a profile of a marriage that was chaotic, strained, and dangerous. Depp’s reputation resurrection may be at hand.
Heard, it turns out, was no helpless victim, but was oftentimes the aggressor in their heated, violent, marital spats. Perhaps Hollywood and the world were too quick to take Heard’s side and too quick to side-line Depp on allegations alone.
After Heard alleged that the famed Pirates of the Caribbean actor was abusive during their marriage, Depp was dropped from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, as well as from Disney. He was called a “wife-beater” in UK tabloid The Sun and lost a defamation lawsuit against that publication. This latest lawsuit comes as a result of an op-ed Heard published in the Washington Post in 2018 about domestic violence. It did not mention Depp by name, but it didn’t have to. The public interpreted the “Aquaman” actress’s piece, written at the height of the #MeToo movement, as referring to abuse in her own marriage.
Exposing men was big business in 2018, and many successful, high-profile men, as well as plenty among the ranks of the unknown, were pushed from their perch by women who were often believed, without evidence, that the men they accused were guilty as publicly charged. Heard was part of this movement, and Depp paid the price.
This new trial shows that Heard and Depp were often heavily intoxicated. Heard once threw a bottle at him nearly severing his finger, and, according to Depp’s testimony, “Each time one of these incidents would occur, it seemed to get worse and worse.” When asked if there was violence committed against him by Heard, Depp unequivocally said yes.
Heard’s testimony begins next week, and while she will likely give her views on their clearly dysfunctional marriage, unless Depp is outright lying, there is no way to say that Heard is the innocent victim that she has portrayed herself as.
She was complicit, an aggressor, and abusive toward her husband. Depp, whatever his participation in this mess of a marriage, should not have experienced the public pillorying, the defamation of character, and the loss of career and income that he was subjected to.
Women are subjected to an outsized measure of domestic violence, but that does not mean that abuse does not also go the other way. The revelations of this trial, and the continued realizations that many of the men who lost careers, livelihoods, and reputations at the hands of those screaming MeToo, could have a lasting impact on how America understands abuse.
Domestic abuse is serious and deadly, and those women who would use allegations of abuse, and the status that comes with their own victimization to boost themselves and their careers, are harming women and domestic abuse survivors.
Depp’s return to the silver screen would be a justifiable and welcome outcome from this trial, but the damage done to real, as opposed to imagined victims of abuse, could be that they are no longer believed with the same blind ferocity as they were during the “Believe all women” years.
Toward the end of Depp’s testimony, his lawyer played a recording of Heard allegedly taunting her husband.
“You can tell people it was a fair fight . . . see what the jury and judge think,” Heard allegedly said. “Tell the world, Johnny, tell them ‘I, Johnny Depp, a man, I’m a victim, too, of domestic violence . . . and it’s a fair fight.’ And see how many people believe or side with you.”
Heard might be surprised how many believe him.
Libby Emmons is editor in chief of The Post Millennial.