On Tuesday, actor Johnny Depp testified that he never struck ex-wife Amber Heard and was disputing her allegations in a $50 million defamation case to change the general impression and protect his children.
In a Virginia courtroom, Depp claimed that speaking softly and slowly for over three hours, it was a "complete shock" six years ago when Heard "made some quite heinous and disturbing" charges that he grew violent during their relationship.
"I never came close to striking Ms. Heard in any way, nor have I ever struck a woman in my life," Depp, who was dressed in a dark suit with his hair pulled back in a ponytail, added.
"I felt it was my responsibility to speak up not only for myself, but also for my children in that instance," the "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor explained. At the time, his two children from a prior relationship were in high school.
"It's very strange when you're Cinderella one day and Quasimodo the next," added Depp, who is scheduled to return to the witness stand on Wednesday for cross-examination by Heard's legal team.
Depp, 58, claims Heard, 35, defamed him in a December 2018 Washington Post opinion piece about her experience as a survivor of domestic abuse. In 2018, he sued Heard for $50 million.
Although the piece did not refer to Depp by name, Depp's attorney Benjamin Chew told jurors it was obvious Heard was referring to the Hollywood leading man.
Attorneys defending Heard, an actor, contended that she spoke the truth and that her opinion was protected as free expression under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Heard's attorneys claimed during opening statements that Depp abused her physically and sexually while abusing narcotics and alcohol.
The trial, which is in its second week and is anticipated to run six weeks, is being presided over by a state court judge in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Depp's attorneys grilled him Tuesday on his film career and his early interactions with Heard on the set of 2011's "The Rum Diary." Depp regarded her as kind, clever, and amusing at the time.
Additionally, the actor discussed his parents' rocky relationship.
Depp stated that his parents constantly quarreled, and his mother physically mistreated his siblings. According to Depp, his father never physically battled with his mother but struck a wall three times, once fracturing his hand. The actor revealed that Depp's father abandoned the family when he was 15.
Depp stated that he had "done all the drugs I was aware of." He said that he developed an addiction to opiates following an injury during the production of the fourth "Pirates" film but recovered.
According to Depp, Heard "grossly exaggerated" his substance abuse. "A lot of it is simply untrue," he stated. "I believe she had an easy target."
Heard sat silently during Depp's testimony, occasionally dipping her head or scribbling notes.
Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel action against The Sun, a British tabloid, for labeling him a "wife-beater." Heard was frequently abused and put in fear for her life, a London High Court judge decided.
Depp and Heard each submitted lengthy witness lists in the United States case, including Heard's ex-boyfriend and Tesla CEO Elon Musk and actor James Franco.
According to Depp's attorneys, the action was brought in Fairfax County, Virginia, outside the District of Columbia, because the Washington Post is printed there. The Washington Post is not a party to the litigation.
The United States is a challenging forum for libel claimants, particularly public figures like Depp, who must establish that Heard made false statements with malice beyond a reasonable doubt.
Heard, most known for her appearances in "Aquaman" and "Justice League," has filed her libel suit against Depp, alleging that the actor slandered her by branding her a liar.
Heard's counterclaim for $100 million in damages will be resolved throughout the trial.