The latest chapter in Hollywood star Johnny Depp's legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard kicked off on Monday as a US defamation trial began over allegations Amber made about domestic abuse.
Johnny has sued his ex-wife for $50 million, saying she defamed him when she penned a 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse.
While the op-ed in question never mentioned the actor by name, Johnny's lawyers claim it was clear Amber was referencing him. They claim that the piece ended up damaging his film career and reputation. Following allegations of domestic abuse, the actor was dropped from the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, where he had a starring role. Johnny had acted in the first two instalments of the five-film series but was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen for the third film- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
Johnny has denied all allegations of abuse, saying in his lawsuit that his ex-wife's claims were an "elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Amber and advance her career."
Both parties have submitted long lists of potential witnesses they could put on the stand. Amber's list includes her ex-boyfriend and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, who she texted about Johnny. Also on the list of potential witnesses is actor James Franco, who Amber testified in the London case inquired about bruises on her face following an alleged abusive incident with Johnny.
Johnny wants the Fairfax County jury to find that Amber knowingly made false claims. Amber, for her part, will argue that she is shielded, or "immune," from liability because her 2018 op-ed on domestic violence dealt with a matter of public concern. "I never named him. Rather, I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power. I continue to pay the price, but hopefully, when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny," she said in a statement released on social media on Saturday.