Act II begins in the United States

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American actor Johnny Depp leaves court in Fairfax on April 11, 2022 in Virginia (Samuel Corum / AFP)

After the great unpacking of their private life in a London court, the American actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard find themselves again Monday in court, in the United States this time, to accuse each other of defamation.

The extraordinary trial in Fairfax, a small town in the state of Virginia near Washington, began with the selection of jurors, which ended in the afternoon. The proceedings will begin on Tuesday before Judge Penney Azcarate and could last several weeks.

In the morning, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrived without making a statement in court, where a small group of the actor’s fans had gathered with pirate flags and “Justice for Johnny” signs.

“For me, Johnny is innocent,” Carmen Maria Pagan Carlo, 49, from Pennsylvania told AFP. “I’ve been an abused woman and I know what a man who abuses a woman is, and Johnny isn’t like that.”

This second legal act after London, filmed and broadcast live, should be very well attended, especially since the cast of witnesses is worthy of the great Hollywood films: billionaire Elon Musk, actors James Franco and Paul Bettany, actress Ellen Barkin …

Johnny Depp, 58, and Amber Heard, 35, will appear in person, their witnesses rather by video link.

The lawsuit stems from a column published in 2018 in the Washington Post, in which Amber Heard described herself as a “victim of domestic violence” bullied by society after coming out of silence two years earlier.

Protection order

The actress did not name Johnny Depp, whom she had met in 2009 on the set of “Rum Express” and married in 2015. But as early as 2016, she had tried to obtain a protective order to keep him at bay. She had dropped her charges as part of their divorce, concluded with a bang in 2017.

American actress Amber Heard leaves court in Fairfax on April 11, 2022 in Virginia.
American actress Amber Heard leaves court in Fairfax on April 11, 2022 in Virginia (Samuel Corum / AFP)

After the publication of this forum, the star of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, who denies having ever hit his wife, had filed a defamation suit against Amber Heard, claiming 50 million dollars in damages.

“The column, which implicitly accuses Mr. Depp of being an abusive husband, is categorically false” and aims to “generate positive publicity” around Ms. Heard, a few days before the release at the time of the film “Aquaman” , in which she appeared, he argued.

The actress had counter-attacked, filing in turn a defamation complaint to obtain 100 million dollars. “The futile complaint filed by Mr. Depp against Ms. Heard prolongs the abuse and harassment” he imposed on her during their marriage, she wrote.

Johnny Depp filed his complaint in the state of Virginia, where the Washington Post is printed and where the legal framework is more favorable to complaints of defamation than in California, where the two actors reside.

Photos, account statements, medical examinations, text messages … Many intimate details risk filtering out during the hearings and exposing, again, the excesses of the hero of “Edward Scissorhands”.

“Freak”

This scenario strangely resembles the one that played out in 2020 in London. Except that at the time, the Hollywood star had filed a lawsuit against the publishing company of the tabloid The Sun after an article presenting him as an abusive husband.

Fans of American actor Johnny Depp and actress Amber Heard outside court in Fairfax on April 11, 2022 in Virginia.
Fans of American actor Johnny Depp and actress Amber Heard outside court in Fairfax on April 11, 2022 in Virginia (Paul Morigi/Getty/AFP)

To prove his good faith, the tabloid had called his ex-wife to the bar.

She had described a dozen attacks committed, according to her, by a husband transformed into a “monster” by his excessive use of drugs.

At the helm, he admitted to consuming too many drugs and alcohol, but claimed to have never raised his hand on a woman, supported in this regard by the written testimonies of his ex-companions Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder.

British justice had finally decided in favor of the tabloid, considering that “the vast majority of the alleged attacks had been proven”.

After this setback, the American actor had to give up his role in the next film in the series “Fantastic Beasts”, adapted from the works of the author of “Harry Potter”, JK Rowling.

On Saturday, Amber Heard claimed on Twitter that she “always had love for Johnny” Depp.

“It hurts me a lot to have to relive the details of our past lives in front of the world,” she added, saying she would stay away from social media for the next few weeks.

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