Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are the most depressing couple since Sid and Nancy

Johnny Depp, left, and Amber Heard arrive for the European premiere of their 2011 film, ‘The Rum Diary’, in London. (Joel Ryan/Associated Press)

If you want to know what mutually assured destruction looks like, forget about Russia vs. Ukraine for a minute and watch the show of Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard.

It’s not exactly “War of the Roses” grotesque, but it’s depressing enough. That’s what you get when fame and fortune infantilize two adults, each of whom desperately needs to have the last word – and have it in public.

Their tumultuous short-lived marriage resulted in years of acrimony and legal drama on two continents. The current chapter of their domestic war unfolds in a courtroom in Fairfax County, Virginia, where Depp’s libel trial against his ex-wife Heard is being played out before a seven-person jury.

How did they come here?

In May 2016, just after filing for divorce, Heard accused Depp of throwing a cellphone in her face during a fight. He denied it and no charges were filed, but she got a temporary restraining order after swearing in court that she feared for her life.

In April 2018, the London newspaper The Sun published an article titled “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘really happy’ to cast wife-beater Johnny Depp in new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie?”

In November 2018, after a salacious three-week trial at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, a judge determined that Depp had not been defamed and fired to 12 separate incidents which justified the title of the Sun. Depp’s appeal request was denied.

A month later, the Washington Post published an opinion essay by Heard, in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic violence” who had “felt the full force of our culture’s anger for women speaking out”. Although she didn’t mention Depp by name, it was clear she was referring to him.

He filed a libel suit against her, claiming he lost work as a result of the play, including a starring role in a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ sequel for which he claims he earned 40 million of dollars. “It’s very strange when one day you’re Cinderella so to speak, then 0.6 seconds later you’re Quasimodo.” he testified on Tuesday.

Then in 2020, Heard counterattacked Depp, claiming her former lawyer defamed her when he said her abuse allegations were a “sexual violence hoax”, ripped off to draw attention to her film” Aquaman,” which premiered three days after his essay appeared in the Poster.

And it continues.

I dare say that this marriage was doomed from the start and not just because of the couple’s 22-year age difference.

A month after tying the knot, according to Depp’s lawsuit against Heard, she threw a bottle of vodka at him in Australia. The bottle broke and the glass shattered “cut and broken” the bones of his right middle finger. Photos presented as evidence show a horrific injury.

Heard, for his part, accused Depp of numerous assaults, including a surprise accusation in the last trial he sexually assaulted her once while he was black drunk.

The exhibitions presented in his name are also troubling. Cellphone video she taped into the file shows a seemingly drunk Depp bursting into their kitchen, grabbing a bottle of red wine and slamming and smashing glass cabinet fronts. The video ends when he sees her recording it and angrily grabs the phone.

Thursday, he admitted having “attacked a few firms”.

Depp is known as a prolific drinker of drugs and alcohol and testified to how his frequent drunkenness enraged his wife.

He also has a long history of wayward outbursts – in 1989, when he starred in ’21 Jump Street’, he pleaded guilty to attack a security guard. In 1994, he ransacked a $1,200-a-night Manhattan hotel room he shared with then-girlfriend Kate Moss and paid nearly $10,000 for the damage. At the time, he blamed the destruction on a tattoo hiding in the closet.

“I was angry,” he testified in London when asked about his history of blowouts, “but that doesn’t mean I have an anger problem.”

The rhetorical contortions aside, it appears Depp and Heard have anger issues rooted in childhood trauma.

Depp has testified at length about the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his mother, Betty Sue, even wincing on the stand as she described how he would protect himself when she ran into him at home. He said she might throw an ashtray at his head or hit him with her high heel or a phone “or whatever’s within reach.”

“In our house,” he said, “we were never exposed to any kind of security. Or security. The only thing you could do, really, was try to stay in outside the line of fire.

Marriage therapist Laurel Anderson testified in videotaped deposition that Heard’s father beat her as a child and that “it was a point of pride for her if she felt disrespected to engage in a fight”. Additionally, Anderson said, “she felt she had to hit him back if he hit her and she always did.”

The therapist described the couple’s dynamic as “mutual violence.”

How humbling to see your therapist testify to the world how awful wives you were.

But that, I guess, is the result of misguided justice that blinded Depp and Heard to their own shortcomings.

It’s perhaps predictable that after all he’s been, Depp still can’t figure out his own role in the mess.

“It doesn’t matter the outcome of this trial”, he testified on Wednesday“The second these accusations were made against me, and they metastasized as media fodder, I lost…and I will carry this for the rest of my life.”


This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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