Johnny Depp testified Monday that he wanted to keep making Pirates of the Caribbean films because he wanted to give a “proper goodbye” to Jack Sparrow and the other characters in the franchise.
Depp took the stand for the fourth day in a courtroom in Fairfax, Virginia, where his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard is ongoing. Depp alleges that he was dropped from the Pirates franchise after Heard wrote a December 2018 op-ed in which she alluded to allegations of domestic abuse. He denies those allegations and is seeking US$50 million (approx. $69.7 million) in damages.
On cross-examination last week, Heard’s attorney Ben Rottenborn asked whether Depp had in fact been fired before the op-ed ran, which would undercut Depp’s case. He also asked about statements Depp had made suggesting he was unhappy with the series and would not want to play Jack Sparrow again.
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On redirect examination on Monday, Depp’s attorney Jessica Meyers sought to establish that Depp was still interested in making the sixth installment in the franchise in late 2018.
“My feeling was that these characters should be able to have their proper goodbye,” Depp testified. “There’s a way to end a franchise like that… I planned on continuing until it was time to stop.”
The fifth Pirates film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, was released in 2017. Depp said he was subsequently approached by the creative team to take part in writing the screenplay for the sixth Pirates movie. Depp has testified that the project is now in “dangle mode.”
During cross-examination, Rottenborn asked about an October 2018 report in the Daily Mail — two months before the op-ed — which indicated he had been fired as Jack Sparrow due to “financial issues and personal dramas.”
“I wasn’t aware of that, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Depp testified. “Two years had gone by of constant worldwide talk about me being this wife beater. So I’m sure that Disney was trying to cut ties to be safe.”
On redirect, Depp said that he actually learned he was going to be recast a couple of days after the op-ed was published, from a news article quoting a Disney executive.
“I didn’t quite understand how after that long relationship, and quite a successful relationship certainly for Disney, that suddenly I was guilty until proven innocent,” he testified.
Depp has since claimed that he would refuse to do another Pirates film even if Disney paid him “$300 million and a million alpacas.” On redirect, Depp emphasised that the comment was made well after he had been fired.
Depp was also asked last week about a text he sent to his assistant in March 2015, during the filming of the fifth Pirates film, in which he complained about his work on the franchise and suggested that he no longer wanted to work on it.
“Honestly I will not again be doing anything that involves this discussion of furthering my embarrassment of having whored for all these f–king wasted piece of s–t nothing years on characters that I so ignorantly started to think of as my legacy,” he wrote at the time. “Every c–ing fight!!! Every fucking time!!! I held my ugliness and rage deeper down and get in check when there was still room in my head to do such a thing!!!!”
Depp testified that he was venting his anger at the time because the script was “not up to snuff.”
“My anger is that the screenplay was very lazily written and I had to rewrite it,” he said.
Depp has testified about the pride he took in creating the Jack Sparrow character, noting that it deviated significantly from the character in the original script.
“I incorporated my notes into the character and brought that character to life, much to the chagrin of Disney initially,” he testified last week. “I believed in the character wholeheartedly, and initially, the Disney folks were somewhat upset.”
Depp has denied Heard’s abuse claims, alleging that she was the one who instigated fights and he would typically flee to avoid a physical confrontation.
Rottenborn’s cross-examination focused largely on text messages and video and audio recordings, which included verbal abuse and references to physical fights. In one of the clips played for jurors on Monday, Heard said she had dumped Depp “after you beat the s–t out of me.”
In another audio clip, Heard told him to “put your cigarettes out on someone else,” and he responded, “Shut up, fat a–.”
On redirect, Depp’s lawyer asked him to provide context for violent and disturbing messages which were shown to the jury last week. In one of them, he wrote to actor Paul Bettany that he wanted to “drown” and “burn” Heard, and said he would “f–k her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”
He said that he and Bettany were making a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
“The text that is about burning Ms. Heard is directly from Monty Python, and the sketch about drowning witches,” he said. “It was irreverent and abstract humor.”
Howard Stern weighs in on the trial, calls out Johnny Depp for ‘overacting’ while testifying against Amber Heard
Howard Stern called out Depp for “overacting” while Depp testified against Heard during the former couple’s defamation trial, which has been livestreamed on various platforms since April 11.
Heard’s legal team reportedly tried to block cameras from livestreaming the trial, which was approved by Judge Penney Azcarate. Depp’s team did not publicly challenge the decision.
“The reason he wanted that on — he wanted it televised [because] that’s what narcissists do,” Stern said of Depp while discussing the trial on his SiriusXM radio show (via Mediaite). “They think they can talk their way out of anything. I think Johnny Depp is a huge narcissist and what I mean by that is — he figured, ‘I’ll put this on TV and because I’m so persuasive and because I’m so smart, I’m such a wonderful guy.'”
“I’ll play you some clips from the Johnny Depp trial. If he isn’t acting — I mean, he’s so overacting because he’s writing his own material as he goes along,” Stern continued. “You know, I gotta tell you, he’s wrong. He shouldn’t be putting this on TV in any shape.”
Stern agreed with his co-host Robin Quivers that the trial will not save Depp’s career. “That’s what narcissists do, [they say], ‘I will charm the pants off of America at the trial.’ No you won’t! This will not go well,” Stern said. “It’s not going well for you, it’s not going well for her. It’s not going well for anybody. You sound like two battling children.”
“It’s just coming off really badly,” Stern added. “Johnny Depp testified in court for two days last week. Two days. Think about that, lots of room to embarrass yourself. Two full, f–king days! First of all, his difficulty in speaking the English language is fantastic… And the accent. First of all, isn’t he from like the South of the Midwest? Johnny Depp was born in Kentucky. Does that sound like a guy from Kentucky?”
Depp’s cross-examination concluded on the afternoon of April 25. Heard has not yet testified but will do so in the coming days.
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