© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Actor Amber Heard returns to the courtroom after lunch break at Fairfax County Circuit Court during a defamation case against her by ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S., May 4, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/Pool
By Lisa Richwine
(Reuters) -“Aquaman” actor Amber Heard broke down in tears on the witness stand on Thursday as she said ex-husband Johnny Depp sexually assaulted her with a liquor bottle and threatened her life shortly after the pair were married.
Testifying in a widely watched defamation trial, Heard said she visited Depp in Australia about a month after their wedding in early 2015 when he was filming the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
On their first evening together, Heard said, a planned dinner at the house where Depp was staying evolved into an argument. Depp, who she said was drinking, pushed her against the refrigerator and held her there by her throat.
Heard said she broke free and retreated upstairs, returning later in her nightgown to find Depp still awake. She said she tried to get him to eat since they had never had dinner, but he was “belligerent” and threw bottles that broke around her.
Depp ripped off her nightgown, leaving her naked, she said, and threw her on a ping-pong table before inserting a bottle into her vagina.
“He was shoving it inside of me over and over,” said Heard, who shook her head and sobbed as she described the episode. She said she kept thinking that she hoped the bottle was not one of the ones that was broken.
During the assault, Depp repeatedly said “I’ll fucking kill you,” she told the jury.
“I was scared,” Heard said. “I had just married him.”
A few months later, back home in Los Angeles, Heard said Depp broke her nose and ripped out chunks of hair in another violent encounter.
Depp, 58, testified earlier in the trial that he never hit Heard and argued that she was the one who was the abuser.
The star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million, saying she defamed him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse. Heard has counter-sued for $100 million, arguing Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.
Depp has offered a different account of the incident in Australia. He told jurors that Heard was the person who hurled objects, hitting him with a vodka bottle that severed the top of his right middle finger.
His attorneys showed evidence of his hospital visit to surgically repair the injury.
Depp acknowledged using blood from his finger to write on the wall to remind Heard of “lies” she had told him. He described her as “bullying” to him throughout their relationship and said she left him “broken.”
The legal case hinges on a December 2018 opinion piece Heard authored in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear Heard was referencing him. The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2017 after less than two years of marriage.
Depp, once among Hollywood’s biggest stars, said Heard’s allegations cost him “everything.” A new “Pirates” movie was put on hold, and Depp was replaced in the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise, a “Harry Potter” spinoff.
Heard’s attorneys have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected free speech under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
A state court judge in Virginia’s Fairfax County is overseeing the trial, which is in recess until May 16. Closing arguments are scheduled for May 27.
Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against the Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a “wife beater.” A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.
Depp’s lawyers have said they filed the U.S. case in Fairfax County because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant.