/ 27 May 2022

The Heard-Depp trial draws to a close

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

After 6 weeks of testimony, countless witnesses and more mud being slung than you would find in Lismore, the defamation trial involving actors/former couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is set to wrap up today. Depp is suing Heard for US$50 million for implying in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed that she suffered domestic abuse in their tumultuous marriage. Heard is countersuing Depp for US$100 million after his lawyer told the media her allegations were false.

They met on the set of The Rum Diary in 2009, started dating in 2012, and married in 2015. A year later, Heard filed for divorce, accusing him of abuse. This isn’t their first legal battle – in 2018, Depp unsuccessfully sued the Sun newspaper for libel after it called him “a wife-beater.” This time around, Depp is suing Heard after describing herself in the article (that didn’t name him) as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp says he didn’t abuse her and that she’s a liar who frequently attacked him. He’s also called on former girlfriends like supermodel Kate Moss to defend his character. But Heard says Depp was controlling, violent, and prone to jealous rages and drug binges. Needless to say, the trial has had unbelievable levels of coverage in mainstream and social media.

Sure, the 2 big-time actors have a huge public profile, but commentators say it’s become a referendum on #MeToo – the movement that gathered pace in 2017 as women in Hollywood called out abuse and harassment. And while some say the Depp-Heard trial is an example of ‘credibility discounting’ – aka the blasting of the characters of women who come forward – others say it’s a check on a movement that has failed to give the accused a right of reply. There is some agreement that it’s not straightforward, with the couple’s marital counsellor testifying that they engaged in “mutual abuse”. The jury is set to retire to consider a verdict, so watch this space.

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