Fairfax, Virginia –
The jury concluded that both Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, Amber Heard, were defamed in a long-running public feud, which culminated in a grueling six-week trial and also raised questions about whether the two actors could overcome the tarnished reputation.
Wednesday’s ruling in Virginia found Depp defamed with three statements in an op-ed written by Heard in which she said she was the victim of abuse. The jury awarded him more than $10 million USD. But the jury also concluded that Depp’s lawyer had defamed him and accused her of creating an elaborate hoax around the abuse allegations. I got 2 million dollars.
Depp hoped the defamation suit would help restore his reputation. However, legal and entertainment experts said the actors’ reputations have been damaged by the ugly details of their brief marriage that came to light during the televised trial watched by millions.
Matthew Belloni, a former entertainment attorney, who writes about the Hollywood business, said in the Puck Newsletter. “The personal baggage that was revealed in this experiment was too difficult for the studio to handle.”
The case drew viewers who watched hammer-to-hammer TV coverage, including enthusiastic followers on social media who dissected the actors’ behavior, wardrobe choices, and their use of alcohol and drugs.
Both performers appear with unclear prospects for their careers. Depp, a three-time Academy Award nominee for Best Actor, was an accepted star until recent years, including as Captain Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. However, he lost this role and was replaced in the movie “Fantastic Beasts”.
Heard’s acting career has been more modest, and her only next two roles will be in a mini-film and the upcoming “Aquaman” sequel next year.
Eric Rose, a crisis management and communications expert in Los Angeles, called the trial “a classic murder and suicide” in terms of the damage done to both professions.
“From a reputation management perspective, there can be no winners,” he said. “They bled each other. It’s now difficult for studios to hire any of the actors because you’re likely to alienate a large segment of your audience who may not like the fact that you’ve kept Johnny or Amber for a particular project because the feelings are so strong right now.”
Heard, who attended court on Wednesday and was sober while reading the verdict, said she was saddened by what she described as a setback for women in general.
“I am even more disappointed by what this ruling means for other women. It is a setback. It turns back the clock to a time when a woman who has spoken out and who has spoken out can be humiliated. It brings back the idea that violence against women must be taken,” she said in a statement on her Twitter account. Seriously ”.
Depp, who was not in court on Wednesday, said, “The jury got my life back to normal. I’m really humbled.”
“I hope that Massoudi for Telling the Truth has helped others, men and women, who find themselves in my situation, and that their supporters never give up,” he said in a statement posted on Instagram.
Depp sued Heard for defamation in Fairfax County Court over an op-ed she wrote in December 2018 in the Washington Post describing herself as a “public figure who represents domestic violence.” The article never mentioned his name.
The jury found in favor of Depp on all three of his allegations relating to specific statements in the article.
When evaluating Heard’s counter-claims, jurors considered three statements by Depp’s attorney who described her allegations as a hoax. They found that she had been defamed by one of them, with the lawyer claiming that she and her friends “poured a little wine and slandered the place, corrected their stories”, and called the police.
While the case was ostensibly one of defamation, most of the testimony focused on whether Heard had been physically and sexually abused, she alleged. Heard listed more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a fight in Australia – where Depp was shooting a sequel to “Pirates of the Caribbean” – in which Depp lost the tip of his middle finger and Heard said she was sexually assaulted with an alcohol bottle.
Depp said he never hit Heard and that she was the abuser, although Heard’s lawyers highlighted years-old text messages, Depp sent an apology to Heard for his behavior as well as obscene texts he sent to a friend in which Depp said he wanted to kill Heard and defile her body.
Brett Ward, a New York family law attorney, said Depp made himself a more believable witness by admitting to drug and alcohol use and that he can be a tough person. But he said Depp also took the risk of making those moments more memorable for audiences than his work in films.
“He says he did it for his kids. After I watched the whole trial, I don’t think he did his kids any favors by airing all these dirty clothes,” Ward said in an interview.
“But if it helps Johnny Depp, we will know in five years if he has re-established himself as a Hollywood A-list actor. And if he doesn’t? I think he made a huge mistake because most people wouldn’t remember his distinguished career in Hollywood. They will remember this trial.”
Associated Press writers Lindsey Barr and John Karucci contributed to this report.