Johnny Depp or Amber Heard? One of the biggest celebrity trials ever

The world awaits a verdict in the widely watched train wreck trial that shone a rare spotlight on Hollywood – and even pulled Gal Gadot into the mess.

 ACTRESS AMBER HEARD listens to ex-husband Johnny Depp as a picture of an injury to his face is seen on screen, during his defamation trial against her, April 20.  (photo credit: Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
ACTRESS AMBER HEARD listens to ex-husband Johnny Depp as a picture of an injury to his face is seen on screen, during his defamation trial against her, April 20.
(photo credit: Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s been one of the biggest trials in American celebrity history, with the dirty laundry of a husband and wife for all to see.

Johnny Depp, one of America’s most celebrated actors, known for his franchise role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean and a variety of quirky, beloved roles, married beautiful actress Amber Heard in February 2015. Depp, 58, and Heard, 35, called it quits in May 2016, with Heard filing a temporary restraining order against Depp and accusing him of domestic violence.

Depp denied the claims through his representatives, with his former lawyer Adam Waldman proclaiming them a hoax and making a total of three statements to the media that are at issue. Heard got $7 million in a divorce settlement, which she said she donated to charity. She then wrote a December 18, 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” She tweeted the full article but claimed she didn’t write the title.

While not mentioning Depp by name, the piece included the line, “Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

“Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

Amber Heard

Two years prior, she was with Depp and would then file the restraining order when the relationship was over.

 THE COUPLE in happier times, 2014. (credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Art of Elysium) THE COUPLE in happier times, 2014. (credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Art of Elysium)

Depp filed a $50 million (NIS 167 m.) defamation suit based on the article, with the argument that everyone knows Heard is referring to him, and as a result he lost film roles including Pirates of the Caribbean 6, with his reputation permanently ruined. Heard countersued for $100 million (NIS 335 m.), employing the argument that Waldman’s statements made her lose roles and she had to fight to remain in Aquaman 2, with her role lessened. Dubbed the Depp-Waldman statements, she asserted the lawyer was acting at Depp’s behest.

She said, he said

In the trial, which began April 11 in Fairfax County, Virginia, and made a star out of Depp attorney Camille Vasquez, Heard testified that her former husband sexually violated her with a glass bottle, hit her on numerous occasions, saying she had to defend her sister at one point because she had heard Depp once pushed model and one-time girlfriend Kate Moss down the stairs, and that Depp accidentally cut off a piece of his own finger when he smashed a phone.

Depp countered that Heard threw a vodka bottle at him when his hand was against a bar and that is how his finger was injured. Meanwhile, in a text to his doctor, Depp wrote that he indeed cut his finger off. Yet in an audio recording, Heard admits to hitting Depp and implies that if he told a court she abused him, he would not be believed.

Other inconsistencies emerged. On May 25, testifying through a computer link, Moss countered Heard’s claim and said that during her romantic relationship with Depp, in Jamaica many years ago, she slipped down the stairs and hurt her back. She said Depp “never pushed me, kicked me, or threw me down any stairs.”

When confronted with the fact she had not donated the $7 million settlement as she’d claimed on a TV interview, Heard said she pledged it. Though Heard lawyer Elaine Bredehoft held a Milani concealer palette and said her client kept it in her purse at all times during the marriage, saying “This is what she used” to cover her bruises, the makeup company announced on TikTok that the product was not launched until 2017 – after the pair split.

Moreover, Warner Bros. executive and president of DC Films Walter Hamada said Heard was never let go from Aquaman 2, and that her role was never intended to be a major one. He cited a lack of chemistry between Heard and lead Jason Momoa in the original film.

Heard, who had said Depp could be a monster when he used drugs, was then questioned why she would give him a knife as a birthday present after she claimed the abuse had begun, with the inscription in Spanish hasta la muerte (until death). She claimed he was sober during the gifting period.

Depp admitted to using various drugs and getting drunk, and pictures were shown of him passed out on the floor with ice cream all over him. A text Depp sent to friend and actor Paul Bettany read: “Let’s drown her [Heard] before we burn her,” and referred to an inappropriate act with her burnt corpse.

Heard produced a video that showed Depp smashing cabinets and drinking copious amounts of wine, as well as an audio recording where he tells her to cut him.

IN A now-notorious moment, Depp’s lawyers produced a picture of feces on his bed, in an act Depp referred to as the “grumpy,” saying he believed it was Heard’s own feces she placed there.

A witness said Heard claimed it was a practical joke gone wrong; Heard said the excrement was from one of their dogs, who ate some of Depp’s marijuana and couldn’t control its bowels.

Depp’s team has pointed out a lack of evidence from Heard in the form of pictures, showing their own pictures of her looking fine a day or two after she claimed he hit her face. They said photos were edited to look like a beating, while Heard’s team countered there is no evidence to support that claim. Heard also testified she didn’t seek medical assistance or evaluation after the alleged sexual assault or some of the other alleged beatings.

At moments in the trial, Depp and Heard laughed and appeared to cry or nearly cry, and both mocked or were highly confrontational to opposing counsel.

Wherefore Gal Gadot?

So how on earth did Gal Gadot, a media darling known for her beauty and class, get mentioned in one of the wildest trials ever?

In truth, a parade of celebrities were involved, including Sea of Love actress Ellen Barkin testifying on behalf of Heard, with Heard’s side claiming Depp was jealous of her relationships – whether romantic or otherwise – with billionaire Elon Musk and actor James Franco.

And Israel’s own Gadot? Kathryn Arnold, an entertainment consultant and witness for Heard, said the actress lost between $45 and $50 million (NIS 167 m.-NIS 151 m.) due to Waldman’s statements. Arnold said she made this calculation by looking at comparable actors.

“I looked at Gal Gadot, who was in Wonder Woman,” Arnold stated, adding that she also looked at actors Chris Pine, Jason Momoa and Zendaya.

One of Depp’s attorneys, Wayne Dennison, questioned Arnold’s thought process.

Speaking of Gadot, “She’s the title character [of Wonder Woman],” Dennison said.

“Does Mera [of Aquaman] have any self-titled franchise films?” Dennison asked rhetorically, as the character doesn’t.

He noted that Gadot had a much bigger role than Heard in the Justice League film they were both in, affirming Gadot and Zendaya had a meteoric rise.

Gadot, who was Miss Israel 2004, was famously the title character in Wonder Woman, which brought in more than $820 million at the box office, and its sequel WW84, for which Gadot was paid $10 million, according to Variety. A fixture on Hollywood red carpets, she starred in Death on the Nile and was also in Red Notice with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Ryan Reynolds; according to, she earned $20 million (NIS 66.9 m.) for that role.

Heard was paid $1 million (NIS 3.3 m.) to play Mera in Aquaman and $2 million (NIS 6.7 m.) for Aquaman 2, according to court testimony.

Dennison pointed out Heard never had a title role and has never made more than $2 million for a film. While Aquaman made more than $1 billion (NIS 3.3 b.) and is one of the biggest hits of all time, he said Heard was only in one of four promotional posters.

He further argued there were other things besides Waldman’s comments that hurt Heard’s image and earning capacity. Speaking of Gadot and the other stars Arnold mentioned, Dennison asked Arnold a pointed question:

“Is there a single one who has had any press suggesting that they defecated in the marital bed?”

“I don’t know, I have no idea,” Arnold said, laughing, adding that if it were believed, it would hurt Heard’s reputation regardless.

Arnold mentioned no numbers related to Gadot and a number of witnesses attacked Arnold’s testimony, including Hollywood attorney Richard Marks.

“She built, like, this house of cards on nothing,” Marks said, adding that Arnold’s opinions are “not worth the paper they’re not written on... she calls herself an expert but she’s not... she was constructing a Jenga [unstable structure] without the bottom pieces. It does not hold up under scrutiny by someone who makes deals.”

AND DEPP? One of his lawyers asked what it was like for him to listen to Heard’s testimony.

“Insane,” Depp said, who denied committing any sexual battery or physical assault. “No matter what happens, I did get here and I did tell the truth...”

Heard maintains she was abused and is still dealing with the effects.

“Every single day I have to relive the trauma; my hands shake, I wake up screaming,” Heard said. “I have to live with the trauma and the damage done to me... This is painful and humiliating for any human being to go through... I don’t deserve this.” She said she hoped to get her voice back.

The trial ended May 27 and the jury is deliberating.

While a majority of the public appears to be in Depp’s corner, many feel it’s possible both abused each other; some predict neither will win any damages.

What is certain: One never knows what truly took place behind closed doors.

The word came on June 2: The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, but punitive damages are capped at $350,000 in Virginia. 

Heard was awarded $2 million compensatory and no punitive damages on the Waldman statement that there was a conspiracy of Heard and friends, which was found to be defamatory.Depp fans outside the courtroom cheered. 

Heard released a statement in part saying:

“…I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women can be taken seriously…I’m sad I lost this case, but I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right that I thought I had as an American, to speak freely and openly.”

Depp attorney Ben Chew said: “…We are also most pleased that the trial has resonated for so many in the public who value truth and justice…”

Vasquez added: “Today’s verdict confirms what we have said from the beginning: that the claims against Johnny Depp are defamatory and unsupported by any evidence…”

In a statement posted online, Depp wrote: “… And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”