Impossible not to have heard of the legal battle which opposed (and continues to oppose) Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Two stars who loved and then tore each other before exposing their intimacy to the eyes of the world and facing the court in Fairfax, Virginia. It is also impossible for TMZ – a site specializing in people news (see box) – not to dive into the wave and produce a documentary with an evocative title – Johnny Vs. Amber: From Love To Hate. The film reconstructs the chronology of the case, mixing archive footage and shots shot during the hearings. As a common thread, the story of a couple – from their meeting to the final arguments – with, in conclusion, questions about the future of the careers of the two actors. A perfect documentary for those who love news stories people. On our side, even if we regret the lack of analysis of the consequences that this trial could have on the freedom of speech of victims of violence, we recognize that we have been captured by a story punctuated by twists and turns worthy of a scenario.
The story of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard begins like in a movie… Fell in love in 2011 on the set of Express Rum, they will wait nearly a year – and their respective breakups – to give in to temptation. The sequel is akin to a media fairy tale, at least in appearance. As Johnny Depp points out, “it was too good to be true”. Married in 2014, the couple separated two years later. The people sections announce a stormy separation. Amber Heard files restraining order against Johnny Depp. Leaving the court, filmed by the cameras of TMZ, she displays a swollen face.
A few weeks later, TMZ still broadcast a video where we see Johnny Depp smashing kitchen cabinets! Things calm down thereafter, Johnny offers seven million dollars to his ex-wife who agrees to donate the sum to charity. While we think the case is closed, the actress publishes in 2018 a column in the Washington Post where she describes herself as a victim of domestic violence. She does not mention the name of her ex-husband but the innuendoes are obvious and the consequences are not long in coming. At the height of the #MeToo period, Johnny Depp was considered an outcast and was fired from film sets – including those of Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantastic Beasts.
The best defense…
The sensational press gets involved, the Sun publicly accuses Johnny Depp. The actor is suing for defamation. During the trial, in England, he describes himself not only as innocent, having never raised his hand on a woman, but also as a victim of domestic violence. The court decides in favor of the tabloid, which does not discourage the actor who decides this time to bring the case before the American courts. He filed a defamation complaint against Amber Heard and claimed 50 million in damages. The actress’ response? She complains for the same reasons. Result of this legal back and forth? The exes meet in April 2022 in the court of Fairfax, Virginia, for a media soap opera followed around the world. The unboxing is beyond comprehension…
In front of the cameras, the whole life of the couple is exposed through testimonies and numerous audio and video documents. A confrontation that sometimes turns sordid as when Amber Heard explains that she was raped with a bottle of vodka or when Johnny Depp reveals images of human excrement deposited in her place in the marital bed! Witnesses come to corroborate the statements: security guards, artistic agents, former employees… Very discreet since the beginning of the case, Kate Moss, former companion of the actor, testifies and puts an end to a stubborn rumor: Johnny does not never pushed down the stairs.
Two camps and a divided public
Outside the court, the public takes sides. Johnny Depp is acclaimed as a rock star. A few signs support Amber Heard. Finally, after six weeks of heated debates, where Amber Hear appears alternately in tears or very cold while Johnny Depp is of an Olympian calm, the jury returns its verdict. Amber Heard defamed her ex-husband and is to pay him $15 million. For his part, Johnny Depp made defamatory remarks through his lawyer and must pay 2 million dollars to the actress. A verdict hailed by a large part of public opinion, mainly in favor of Johnny Depp who declared, in a press release “the jury brought me back to life“and conclusive”the best is yet to come”.
Since then, he has given several concerts with musician Jeff Beck and released an album. This summer, he will shoot in France Bovary and even if no official announcement has been made, it is said that the major studios could call on him again. While feminist associations fear that this verdict will muzzle the words of victims, Amber Heard counterattacks by giving an interview to NBC. She denounces “the hatred and vitriol that fell on her” and regrets the decision of the jury, influenced according to her by “the testimonials of employees paid by Johnny Depp and the immense popularity of the latter”. Considered today as a pariah in Hollywood, she first tried to have the verdict overturned – a request rejected by the courts – and has just appealed. The big unboxing is therefore not about to end…
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