Hollywood star Johnny Depp kicked and slapped his ex-wife Amber Heard on a private flight in a drunken rage brought on because he believed she was having an affair with her co-star James Franco, London’s High Court heard on Wednesday.
Depp, giving evidence in his libel trial against Britain’s Sun newspaper over an article describing him as a “wife beater”, denied he had attacked Heard, accusing her of being the aggressor whom he tried to placate.
During the first two days of what is expected to be a three-week case, the court has heard evidence about Depp’s heavy drinking and drug use and about his relationship with Heard whom he married in 2015. She filed for divorce 15 months later.
On Wednesday, the Pirates of the Caribbean actor was accused of abusing Heard on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles following a row over Franco, who appeared with her in the film The Adderall Diaries.
Depp told the court that he was surprised she agreed to make the film with Franco, having previously described him as “creepy” for making aggressive sexual advances towards her.
On the flight, Depp screamed obscenities at Heard, said she liked having sex on film sets and called her a “go-getter slut and a whore”, said Sasha Wass, lawyer for the Sun.
In a “blind rage”, he kicked her in the back as she tried to walk away from him and slapped her across the face, Wass said.
Depp denied the accusations.
“I am not a violent person, especially with women,” he told the court.
He later added that he might have passed out on the flight.
Wass said that on the day after the flight, Depp sent Heard a text message which said: “I don’t know why or what happened but I will never do it again.”
Asked why he had apologised, Depp said he had perhaps done so because he had said something “ugly” or to placate her.
Asked if someone who kicked a woman should be called a wife beater, Depp, 57, said he would call them a savage or an animal.
“It’s one of the most disgusting things someone has ever said about me or accused me of.”
Earlier Depp said Heard’s allegations were a hoax built up over years during their relationship as an “insurance policy”.
In an unsent email composed by Heard in June 2013, three years before she publicly accused him of abuse, she said Depp had hurt her physically and that she did not know if she was dealing with him or “the monster” – his alter ego brought on by anger, jealousy and fuelled by alcohol and drugs.
“It’s like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” the email, read to the court by Wass, said. It added that friends and assistants had to deal with the actor after he passed out in his own vomit and soiled himself with no recollection later of his actions.
Asked if the email meant Heard had been plotting the allegations for three years, Depp said: “By the evidence that I have seen. It appears to me that Miss Heard was building a dossier that appears to be an insurance policy for later.”
The court heard the first alleged incident of violence took place at Heard’s home in March 2013 when he had “fallen off the wagon” and started drinking again after months of sobriety.
Wass said Depp had become angry when Heard mocked one of his tattoos which he had changed from “Winona forever” – a reference to his former girlfriend Winona Ryder – to “Wino forever” and slapped her three times.
“That’s not the case, that’s untrue. It didn’t happen,” Depp said. “I don’t recall any argument about any of my tattoos.”
Wass also said he had struck Heard, 34, when he tried to remove a painting from her bedroom given to her by her former partner Tasya Van Ree and tried to set it alight, one of 14 episodes of violence of which he is accused in the case.
Wass asked Depp if he had held Heard’s small Yorkshire Terrier Pistol out of the window of a moving car.
“I can say it is a very enduring image but it’s an utter falsity,” he said, while agreeing that there was a running joke with Heard and her family about putting Pistol in the microwave as he was “ludicrously tiny”.