Actor Johnny Depp, testifying on Wednesday in a $50 million defamation case against his former wife Amber Heard, said she was the one who became violent when their relationship soured, hurling insults that at times escalated into a slap or a shove.
During one argument, Depp said he threw a vodka bottle that crashed into the wall. Heard then grabbed a larger vodka bottle with a handle and threw it at Depp's hand, cutting the top of his right middle finger, he said.
Depp said he felt like he was suffering some kind of breakdown and began writing on the wall with the blood coming from his finger. He said he wrote reminders of "lies" Heard had told him.
Jurors were shown a photo of the injury, which was surgically repaired.
After detailing their early romance during testimony on Tuesday, Depp returned to the witness stand in a Virginia court and said Heard's behavior changed. The couple had frequent arguments that included "demeaning name calling" and "bullying" by her, Depp said.
"It seemed like pure hatred for me," Depp said. "If I stayed to argue, eventually, I was sure it was going to escalate into violence, and oftentimes it did."
Asked to describe the violence, Depp said Heard would "strike out."
"It could begin with a slap. It could begin with a shove. It could begin with throwing a TV remote at my head. It could be throwing a glass of wine in my face," Depp said.
"She has a need for conflict. She has a need for violence," Depp added. "It erupts out of nowhere."
Heard "would tell me what a bad father I was, that I had no idea how to parent," said Depp, who has two children from a previous relationship.
Another recording has Amber saying "I hit you, you didn't get punched. I did not fucking deck you. You're fine, I did not hurt you... I'm not sitting here bitching about it. You're such a baby."— Tamar Uriel-Beeri (@TamarUrielBeeri) April 20, 2022
In a similar legal case in Britain, Heard denied throwing a bottle and severing his finger. She said she threw things only to escape when he was beating her, and once punched him because she feared he would push her sister down a flight of stairs.
Depp said he would remove himself from the situation, sometimes locking himself in a bedroom or bathroom, and never struck Heard. "In all of these situations, my main goal was to retreat," he said.
Depp said he would remove himself from the situation, sometimes locking himself in the bathroom, and never struck Heard. "In all of these situations, my main goal was to retreat," he said.
"The Pirates of the Caribbean" star, 58, is suing Heard, 35, for defamation after she accused him of abuse.
Depp has accused Heard, also an actor, of defaming him when she penned a December 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse. He filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard in 2018.
The article never mentioned Depp by name, but Depp lawyer Benjamin Chew told jurors a week ago that it was clear Heard was referencing the Hollywood leading man. Read full story
Attorneys for Heard have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected as free speech under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. In opening arguments, Heard's attorneys said Depp physically and sexually assaulted her while abusing drugs and alcohol.
A state court judge in Fairfax County, Virginia, is overseeing the trial, which is in its second week and is expected to last six weeks.
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 and put her in fear for her life.
Depp's lawyers have said they filed the case in Fairfax County, a suburb of the U.S. capital, because the Washington Post is printed at a facility there. The Washington Post is not a defendant in the case.
The United States is a difficult forum for libel plaintiffs, especially public figures like Depp, who must prove by clear and convincing evidence that Heard knowingly made false claims.
Heard, known for roles in "Aquaman" and "Justice League," has brought her own libel claim against Depp, saying he smeared her by calling her a liar.
Heard's counterclaim, seeking $100 million in damages, will be decided as part of the trial.