Behind the scenes

How Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s relationship began

Aquaman star on the stand for the first time in multimillion-dollar lawsuit

Amber Heard has described how she met her ex-husband Johnny Depp before their relationship unravelled into what she alleges was a series of drug-fuelled rages and assaults.

The Aquaman star took to the stand yesterday during the $50m defamation trial that Depp launched against her after she described herself as a victim of domestic abuse in a 2018 article for The Washington Post. Heard has subsequently counter-sued.

The Rum Diary press tour

“Close to tears”, Heard “opened up about how she fell in love with Johnny Depp during their press tour for The Rum Diary in 2011”, reported the Daily Mirror.

“When I was around Johnny, I felt like the best beautiful person in the world,” she told the court in Fairfax, Virginia, just outside Washington DC. “It made me feel seen. It made me feel like a million dollars.”

Both actors were in relationships when they met on the set of the film, which Depp, 58, starred in and produced. They later began “secretly dating” during the press tour, as it had not been announced that Depp had split from his former partner, Vanessa Paradis.

“We were in a bubble of secrecy,” Heard said.

Shower scene kiss

Days earlier in the trial, Depp gave his version of how they had first met, during Heard’s reading for The Rum Diary role. He described her as “sweet as pie” and “pleasant” during their first encounter, and how he had recommended films for her to watch such as the 1940s romantic classic To Have and Have Not, to help her prepare for the role. 

He said the pair initially had “very few” interactions until they were shooting a shower scene in which their characters kiss. “That moment was… it felt like something that I shouldn’t be feeling” because Heard was still with her former girlfriend, Tasya Van Ree, while Depp was still with Paradis.

A dark turn

Yesterday, Heard told the court how her relationship with Depp soon soured, accusing him of striking her for the first time in 2012. She said she had laughed when Depp explained that a faded tattoo on his arm said “Wino” – an alteration to a tattoo he had done during his relationship with actress Winona Ryder.

“I laughed because I thought he was joking,” she told the court. “And he slapped me across the face. I just stared at him kind of laughing, thinking that he was going to start laughing too, to tell me it was a joke,” Heard added. “But he didn’t. He slapped me again. I will never forget it.”

The actress also claimed that during a weekend away with friends in May 2013, Depp subjected her to what she called a “cavity search” after accusing her of stealing his drugs. “He rips my dress… he’s grabbing my breasts, he’s touching my thighs, he rips my underwear off,” Heard said. “He said he was looking for his drugs, his cocaine.”

Depp has testified that he did not strike Heard and was himself a victim of abuse after being punched and kicked by his wife on several occasions, describing his ex as having “a need for conflict”.

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