Amber Heard mourns ‘setback,’ slams Johnny Depp’s ‘sway’ after losing defamation case
Moments after actor Johnny Depp won his defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard on Wednesday, the former couple, who had sued and countersued each other in a Virginia court, issued dueling statements of triumph and disappointment.
The jury found that Heard had defamed Depp on three occasions and awarded the “Fantastic Beasts” star $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. However, the punitive damages were immediately reduced to $350,000 by Judge Penney Azcarate per state law.
Heard, who was awarded $2 million in her countersuit, shared her disappointment about the verdict and the effect it could have on victims of abuse.
The dueling defamation cases between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard came to a simple end: She defamed him, but she won $2 million in her countersuit.
“I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” read her statement, which she shared on social media.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.
“I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly,” she said.
The “Aquaman” star, who was involved in a previous libel case in the U.K., said she believed Depp’s attorneys “succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK.”
For the record:
9:25 p.m. June 1, 2022A previous version of this story said that Amber Heard won a libel case against Johnny Depp in the U.K. The British publication the Sun won the case against Depp. Heard provided witness testimony and other materials during the trial.
Women in Film, a nonprofit that advocates for women working in entertainment, echoed Heard’s sentiment.
“We are deeply concerned the Depp-Heard decision will set precedent exacerbating barriers victims face in coming forward. The trial and its reception demonstrated a regressive trend of retaliation against those who speak out about violence or abuse perpetrated by those in power,” the organization said in a statement posted on Twitter. It also offered support and resources “for people of any gender who have experienced sexual harassment or misconduct while working in the entertainment industry.”
Tarana Burke, the founder of the landmark #MeToo movement, said she and her organization had been “harassed non stop” about the defamation trial and were asked to “pick a side.” She asserted Wednesday that it was not a #MeToo case, as many had made it out to be, and as others lampooned the loaded hashtag as #MenToo on social media.
“#MeToo is the greatest acknowledgement by survivors about the prevalence of sexual violence, ever. Since the hashtag went viral, so much has shifted toward nuanced narratives about survivorhood and the long term, widespread impact of sexual violence,” the statement said. “And yet, the way in which #MeToo has been co-opted and manipulated during the Depp vs. Heard trial is a toxic catastrophe and one of the biggest defamations of the movement we have ever seen.”
After the verdict was read, the hashtags #HeDidIt and #TruthWins began trending on Twitter as Depp’s supporters — who had been vocal outside the courthouse and even more so online — celebrated the fallen star’s victory.
In his reaction statement, which he posted to Instagram, Depp mourned the six years of his and his family’s lives that were “forever changed” by Heard’s Washington Post op-ed that the jury found had defamed him. The actor was pushed out of Disney’s lucrative “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and replaced by actor Mads Mikkelsen in Warner Bros.’ third “Fantastic Beasts” film, which was released in April.
“False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career. And six years later, the jury gave me my life back,” said Depp, who was not in court when the verdict was read due to previously scheduled work commitments.
“I am truly humbled. My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought. From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.
The verdict is in: Here’s how Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s long trial played out
Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against Amber Heard turned the former couple’s dirty laundry into trending topics. Here’s a timeline of key moments.
“I am, and have been, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the colossal support and kindness from around the world. I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those supporting them never give up. I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media,” he added.
Depp also acknowledged the “noble work” of the judge, jurors, court staff, law enforcement and his legal team who were involved in the protracted case and closed his statement with the adage “Veritas numquam perit. Truth never perishes.”
By Wednesday afternoon, more than 9 million Instagram users had already liked Depp’s Instagram post. Among them were embattled musician Ryan Adams, who had previously been accused of misconduct and commented on Depp’s statement with several celebratory emojis. Around the same time, Heard’s statement, which was also posted on Instagram, was hovering around 139,000 likes.
Musician Joe Perry, the Aerosmith rocker who performs with Depp in the rock supergroup Hollywood Vampires, also celebrated Depp getting his “life back.”
“Proud and happy for Johnnys huge win today. We never doubted anything, we always knew the truth, and that the truth would prevail… Congratulations on getting your life back today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Perry tweeted, sharing a photo of them performing together.
Click here to catch up on key moments in the prolonged trial. Here’s a look at more of the online reaction to Wednesday’s verdict:
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.