Audio of Johnny Depp moaning in pain after mixing opioids and alcohol was played in court as the actor was cross-examined by lawyers for his ex-wife Amber Heard.
The defamation trial between Mr Depp and Ms Heard began on Monday 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia following Mr Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019. Mr Depp is arguing that she defamed him in a December 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
On 24 May 2014, Mr Depp and Ms Heard flew on a private plane from Boston to Los Angeles.
Heard attorney Ben Rottenborn read an email from Mr Depp to Ms Heard sent the following day. “Once again, I find myself in a place of shame and regret,” Mr Rottenborn said, quoting the email.
“Of course I am sorry, I really don’t know why or what happened, but I will never do it again,” he added. “I want to get better for you and for me – I must. My illness somehow crept up and grabbed me. I can’t do it again, I can’t live like that again, and I know you can’t either.”
Mr Rottenborn said Mr Depp texted his “good friend”, British actor Paul Bettany, five days later that he had drunk all night before the flight to LA, that he had had no food for days, that he had consumed powders – referring to cocaine – half a bottle of whiskey, “a thousand” red bull and vodkas, pills, and two bottles of “champers” on the plane.
“What do you get? An angry aggro-engine in a f***ing blackout,” Mr Rottenborn said, quoting Mr Depp’s message to Mr Bettany. “Screaming obscenities and insulting any f*** who got near.”
“I’m done, I’m admittedly too f***ed in the head to spray my rage at the one I love,” Mr Depp added, according to the court documents.
Mr Rotterborn asked if the two bottles of champagne on the plane were referring to the flight between Boston and LA.
“Yes, it comes just after a thousand cans of red bull,” Mr Depp responded.
“There’s no reason you would tell Paul Bettany that you were in a blackout, correct?” Mr Rottenborn asked.
“When I write a text, particularly if I’m in an impassioned place – it’s a canvas, it’s a painting, you choose your colours,” Mr Depp said, rejecting the notion that he was in a blackout on the plane.
Mr Rottenborn noted that during his testimony in his UK trial against The Sun newspaper, which he sued for branding him a “wife-beater”, Mr Depp said there was “probably not” any reason for him to tell Mr Bettany something that wasn’t true.
In court on Thursday, Mr Depp didn’t agree that he was “very drunk” on that flight.
Mr Rottenborn went back to the UK transcript in which Mr Depp was asked if he had been drinking or taken drugs before or during the flight, to which Mr Depp said, “sure, for the purposes of getting through this, let’s say yes – everything you have said – I agree”.
Mr Depp said he was “caving in” to the questioning at the time.
The Heard legal team then played three excerpts from a piece of audio of Mr Depp seemingly moaning in pain.
“It sounds like a pained animal and it’s my voice,” Mr Depp said in response to the audio recording.
In the last excerpt, Mr Depp’s former security guard Jerry Judge can be heard saying, “I’m going to stay with this f***ing idiot in case he gets sick”.
“The recording of the pained noises is not from that flight,” Mr Depp said, without specifying where and when the recording was made.
In her 2018 op-ed, Ms Heard partly wrote that “like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim”.
“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she added at the time.
While Mr Depp isn’t named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”. Mr Depp is seeking damages of “not less than $50m”.
Ms Heard has filed a $100m counterclaim against Mr Depp for nuisance and immunity from his allegations.