In June 2022, the long legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard finally reached a verdict, years after the former Pirates of the Caribbean actor and his The Rum Diary co-star first filed massive defamation suits against one another following their divorce. But with all the twists, turns, and countless news stories that have come out since the saga first began, it is easy to get lost in it all and forget how we got to this point in the first place.
That being said, we have put together a comprehensive breakdown of the former couple’s story from the time they first met to the conclusion of their extensive trial in a Virginia courtroom (for now, anyway).
Johnny Depp And Amber Heard Met On The Set Of The Rum Diary in 2009
Before the orders of protection, before the divorce, and even before the marriage, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard first met each other as co-stars on the set of a film back in 2009. According to Entertainment Tonight, Depp and Heard first met while filming The Rum Diary in October 2009 where they were cast as each other’s love interests in the film adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel.
In the film, Depp portrays Paul Kemp, an author turned newspaper reporter in San Juan, Puerto Rico. While in Puerto Rico, Kemp meets and falls for Chenault (Heard), and the two begin a torrid love affair behind the back of Chenault’s fiance, Hal Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). The film was a flop at the box office and didn’t fare much better with critics, but it did serve as the beginning of a love affair that is far more interesting than anything found in the movie.
Johnny Depp And Amber Heard Started Dating In 2012
A few years after Johnny Depp and Amber Heard first met on the set of The Rum Diary, the two finally started dating in 2012 after Depp and his long-time partner, Vanessa Paradis called it quits. Depp addressed the breakup in a July 2013 interview in Rolling Stone, where the actor said that “relationships are very difficult.”
Depp didn’t mention Heard in the Rolling Stone piece, which was pretty standard for he and Heard as they remained private about their relationship until they made their first appearance as a couple at the 7th Annual Heaven Gala in January 2014, as reported by E! Online. A few days later, People reported that the couple was engaged.
The Couple Got Married In 2015; Injuries And Legal Drama Followed
The couple didn’t waste any time getting married as not even a year after getting engaged, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard exchanged their vows on February 5, 2015. According to E!, the couple got married on Depp’s 44-acre private island in the Bahamas.
The fun and love would be short-lived, however, as trouble reportedly started to hinder the couple’s relationship practically as soon as they tied the knot. According to a report by Variety, Depp suffered a hand injury while filming Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in Australia. Depp reportedly received the injury during an argument with Heard.
In March 2015, Depp reportedly got into an argument with Heard and proceeded to smash bottles, windows, and other items around the residence. Depp reportedly sliced off a portion of one of his fingers during the incident. Instead of immediately seeking medical attention for his finger, Depp allegedly stuck the stump in a can of paint and used it to write “Billy Bob” and “Easy Amber” on a mirror, referring to Depp’s accusations that Heard cheated on him with her London Fields co-star Billy Bob Thornton.
In May of that year, the couple faced legal trouble in Australia after local authorities learned that Depp and Heard illegally brought their Yorkshire Terriers to the country when they failed to subject the dogs to Australia’s 10-day quarantine. The couple could have faced a sentence of up to 10 years in prison but were instead only required to issue an apology. In April 2016, Depp and Heard released the infamous video where they awkwardly apologized for violating the country’s bio-security codes by not declaring the dogs.
The Divorce - And Legal - Proceedings Started In 2016
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s marriage started out on a high note, but only continued to suffer from reports of abuse and the legal trouble in Australia. And 15 months after they exchanged their vows, Heard filed for divorce on May 23, 2016. Multiple news outlets reported on the divorce, including Vanity Fair, who reported that Heard cited “irreconcilable differences” when she filed a divorce petition. Entertainment Tonight obtained divorce documents which stated that the couple had separated a day earlier.
Heard would go on to file a temporary restraining order against Depp in May 2016, claiming that Depp harmed Heard. The petition also reportedly contained a photo showing multiple bruises on Heard’s face which she claimed were caused by Depp. A judge ordered Depp to stay at least 100 yards away from Heard and that he should have no contact with his estranged wife.
The restraining order would be tossed out, however, as Heard retracted her allegations against Depp just one day before a hearing was to be held on the matter. A statement from the couple obtained by The Hollywood Reporter explained that although the relationship was “intensely passionate and at times volatile,” it was “always bound by love.” Depp and Heard would go on to reach a $7 million divorce settlement on August 16, 2016.
The Washington Post Published An Op-Ed From Amber Heard On Domestic Violence In December 2018
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard went their separate ways after the divorce was finalized and it seemed like everything was calming down when Heard became romantically attached to billionaire inventor Elon Musk in the spring of 2017. That relationship, however, was short-lived. In August 2017, Heard shared on social media that the couple had broken up but would “remain close.”
Everything was quiet on the Depp-Heard front until December 2018, when The Washington Post published an op-ed from Heard, titled “I Spoke Up Against Sexual Violence - And Faced Our Culture’s Wrath. That Has To Change.” Although Heard never explicitly named Depp or any specific encounters of domestic abuse by his hand, many believed that she was speaking of her former husband when she mentioned death threats and the hit her career took in the wake of the divorce and allegations. A lengthy editor’s note was added to the piece following the June 2022 trial.
Johnny Depp Filed A Defamation Suit Against Heard In March 2019
Readers of The Washington Post weren’t the only ones who thought the op-ed was aimed at Johnny Depp, as Depp and his legal team filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019, where they argued that the claims made in the op-ed were “categorically false,” according to E! Online. The lawsuit also suggests that Heard was actually the aggressor in the relationship and had abused Depp. According to what The Blast reported in April 2019, Depp's attorney, Adam Waldman, told the outlet they had numerous eyewitness accounts as well as video and photographic evidence that prove that Heard was "faking her claims" of injuries.
Depp believes that Disney dropped him from the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise in the wake of Heard’s op-ed, which his attorneys believed Heard wrote in an attempt to “generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career.” The Depp legal team also suggested that the op-ed was released to promote Heard’s film Aquaman which was released just three days after the piece was published.
Amber Heard Filed A Motion To Dismiss The Suit In April 2019
In April 2019 Deadline reported that Heard filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, stating that Depp became violent on numerous occasions during their relationship. The motion details more than examples of abuse by Depp, who she referred to as “The Monster" when he would act that way.
A month later, on May 20, 2019, Depp and his legal team filed an opposition to Heard’s motion, arguing that Heard had made up the allegations against her ex-husband and that she had gone to court in “painted-on bruises.” Depp also argued that Heard had been abusing him throughout their relationship.
In July 2019, Depp’s legal team announced that it would subpoena James Franco after he was spotted in a 2016 surveillance video alongside Heard after she reportedly got into a fight with Depp. Franco reportedly lived in the same apartment complex as Depp and Heard at the time of the incident. In lieu of providing testimony if the suit goes to trial, Franco has filed a request to provide a sealed deposition.
The whole situation was further muddled in early 2020 when audio from a 2015 therapy session involving the then couple was leaked online. Throughout the audio, Heard and Depp both can be heard acknowledging their anger issues before both agree to put an end to the physical violence before things went too far. One of the most newsworthy portions of the two-hour taped therapy session revolves around Heard’s alleged confession to hitting Depp during their relationship.
Johnny Depp Lost A Libel Case
In November 2020, another libel case filed by Johnny Depp came to a conclusion when a U.K. judge decided that News Group Newspapers hadn’t committed defamation when The Sun newspaper, which is owned by the media corporation, published a 2018 article in which the actor was called a “wife beater.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, this libel trial featured testimony from both Depp and Amber Heard as well as various other witnesses including friends, colleagues, and police officers. Heard’s testimony would end up being crucial to the outcome of the case, as the judge sided with the actress following her multiple claims of alleged abuse by Depp.
The Johnny Depp And Amber Heard Defamation Trial Started April 11, 2022
After what seems like years of delays, the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation case finally went to trial in Fairfax County, Virginia on April 11, 2022, which resulted in even more media coverage and revelations about the couple’s past.
The nearly two-month trial played out as dramatically as anyone could have imagined, and featured intense and insightful testimony from witnesses and experts, as well as from the two opposing parties, as a jury tried to determine if Heard’s 2018 Washington Post op-ed was defamatory in nature. Depp’s $50 million filing centered around the actor blaming Heard for getting him booted from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (he was also later removed from Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore). Heard’s $100 million countersuit was in response to what she alleged to be a massive smear campaign by her ex.
The trial even included many of the former couple’s friends and colleagues, including Heard’s Aquaman co-star Jason Momoa, whose emails were added as exhibits in March 2022. The trial even revealed key information about Aquaman 2 that had previously been kept under wraps.
On May 27, 2022, the two sides presented their closing arguments and the case was handed over to the jury.
A Verdict Was Announced In The Johnny Depp And Amber Heard Defamation Trial On June 1, 2022
Although the trial took six weeks to play out, the jury only required a few days to deliberate on the case and come to a conclusion, though they did return to ask an important question about Amber Heard’s 2018 Washington Post op-ed.
On June 1, 2022, it was announced that the jury found Heard guilty of defamation by Johnny Depp in three counts, which resulted in an award of $15 million for the former Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them star ($10 million in compensatory and another $5 million in punitive damages, per the New York Times). At the same time, the jury awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages in her countersuit.
Almost immediately following the conclusion of the trial, the former couple released statements on the matter with Depp saying he felt “at peace” and Heard voicing her “disappointment” in the outcome.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.