Amber Heard's relationship to Johnny Depp exposed in court: What to know about the 'Aquaman' actress
AUSTIN, Texas - Amber Heard and Johnny Depp's relationship is under the microscope as the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star's defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife plays out for all the world to see.
As the former "21 Jump Street" star testified during a hearing at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia, Tuesday and Wednesday in his defamation suit against Heard, 35, Depp's and Heard's names have topped headlines.
Here's a look at what to know about the "Aquaman" actress.
Lone Star state upbringing with an ‘old school Texan' father
Born Amber Laura Heard April 22, 1986, to Paige Parsons, who worked in telecommunications, and David Heard, who ran a small construction firm, she grew up outside of Austin, Texas, in Manor. The "Aquaman" actress has one sister, Whitney.
Of her upbringing, Heard told Vanity Fair in 2014: "My dad is your typical old school Texan. He loves to hunt. Six days of the week, we ate what he killed. He took me to the shooting range from the time I could hold a gun, and I did target practice almost my whole life."
Heard relayed to the outlet that she had aspirations Texas couldn't offer her. "When I was 16, it became clear that I wasn’t going to fit in the machinery that was being provided for me," she shared.
Actress Amber Heard and father David Heard attend Lisa Hoffman Fragrance Jewelry Event 2012 at Chateau Marmont on January 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
Heard left the Lone Star state for the Big Apple but quickly pivoted to Los Angeles, which she now calls home. Still, Heard kept the state of Texas close to her heart – and not in the rearview – even bringing Depp with her for a visit back home.
In 2014, Heard was flanked by Depp and her parents when she was honored with the Rising Star award at the Texas Film Awards. They also attended Rodeo Austin together.
Heard has credited her Texas roots for her strong work ethic.
"You respect what it takes to earn it [money]," she told Marie Claire in 2015, "and it also gives you a certain resilience because it minimizes this false notion that that's what matters. I know that to not be true, and I know I'm fine without it. That's why maybe I'm so independent. I never expect anyone to give me anything. The notion of someone supporting me would be absurd to me."
In the same interview, Heard said she sort of hid her acting aspirations from her parents.
"I traveled a bunch without telling them I had moved out, because it was easier to do it in spurts. By the time I was 17, I was subletting a room in LA," she recalled of dropping out of high school and earning her GED.
Hollywood career: ‘Rum Diary,' Aquaman’ and beyond
Before landing the co-leading role in 2011's "Rum Diary," where she met her future husband, Depp, Heard was cast in various film and TV projects, including "Friday Night Lights" and "North Country," in which she played a younger version of actress Charlize Theron.
She also secured roles in 2008's "Never Back Down" as well as James Franco and Seth Rogen's film, "Pineapple Express." Then came "Rum Diary."
Heard reportedly beat out top-billing actresses Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson for the part of Chenault. The pair's "onscreen chemistry was palpable," People magazine reported. However, both stars were in other relationships despite any off-screen romance rumors.
Johnny Depp And Amber Heard Attend The European Premiere Of 'The Rum Diary' At The Odeon Kensington, London. (Photo by John Phillips/UK Press via Getty Images)
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Heard was dating Tasya Van Ree, a photographer and painter from 2008 to 2012. Depp was in a long-term relationship with Vanessa Paradis, the mother of his two children.
Of first meeting Heard during "Rum Diary," Depp testified in court on Tuesday: "I took one look at her, and I thought that's the one," he said. "Yes, she could definitely kill me."
As for her acting career, Heard went on to land parts in "The Adderall Diaries," "Magic Mike XXL," "The Danish Girl" and the 2018 blockbuster "Aquaman," a role Depp reportedly attempted to have Heard replaced in.
Two years later, Heard once again faced an uphill battle, this time in the form of "paid rumors and paid campaigns on social media," seeking to have her replaced in an "Aquaman" sequel. She shut down those rumors in 2020.
"I'm super excited about the amount of fan love and the amount of fan appreciation that ‘Aquaman’ has acquired and that it has garnered so much excitement for Aquaman and Mera that it means we'll be coming back," she said in a statement at the time. "I'm so excited to film that."
"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" is currently slated for a 2023 release date.
Johnny Depp romance and a ‘dinner, dancing and drugs’-filled wedding
Depp testified that the pair didn't have much interaction on the set of "The Rum Diary" until they filmed a shower scene in 2012.
"She comes into the room, and she opens the shower and we kiss," he said. "That moment was, um … it was a, yeah, it felt like, it felt like something that I shouldn’t be feeling because she had her wife ... and I had Vanessa and the kiddies."
Later that day, Heard, 35, visited Depp, 58, in his trailer and the two shared another kiss.
They didn't resume their relationship until about two years later when they reunited for a press junket for the film. In Depp's own words, it wasn't until after filming ended that Depp chased Heard.
"She was in my head, so I tracked her down," Depp recalled in 2016. "We tracked each other down. We tracked each other down. Actually, incidentally, it was amazing. It was at the first day of press on "The Rum Diary." Then we married that very day."
The pair tied the knot in the Bahamas in 2015.
During his testimony Wednesday, Depp detailed why his daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, wasn't in attendance at the 20-person-plus nuptials.
"My daughter Lily-Rose did not come to the wedding. She and Ms. Heard were not on particularly great terms, for several reasons," he testified. Depp further shared that Heard's current relationship with Lily-Rose and his son, Jack, is "non-existent."
"My kids are far more intelligent than I am," said Depp.
Lily-Rose Depp attends the "Wolf" Premiere during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 17, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
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Depp also shared that the wedding was a night that featured "dinner, dancing and drugs." He smoked his "drug of choice," marijuana, while Heard and her pals had a "communal bag of MDMA."
Following the wedding, Depp testified, he tried to get Heard to sign a postnuptial agreement after he had repeatedly tried to get her to sign a prenup.
"There always seemed to be some reason or other that she either wouldn’t discuss it, or if we did discuss it, it turned into an issue that would springboard into unpleasantness and arguments," he said.
In 2016, Heard filed for divorce.
Depp returned to the witness stand Wednesday and said that things began to change in his marriage when he felt that he "was suddenly just wrong about everything" in Heard’s eyes. Depp also said he felt like he had married his abusive late mother.
"When you start to realize you’re in a relationship with your mother — and I know that sounds perverse and obtuse — but the fact is some people search for weaknesses in people," Depp told jurors. He said that he had shared his deepest traumas from his childhood with Heard and claimed she used that against him.
"The more that became ammunition for Ms. Heard to either verbally decimate me or to send me into a kind of a tailspin of confusion and depression," Depp said as Heard, wearing a white jacket with gold buttons, looked on uncomfortably.
He said the "Aquaman" actress could never be wrong about anything, and he was "suddenly wrong about everything."
Violence would often ensue, sometimes with a slap or a shove from Heard or his wife throwing a television remote control or a glass of wine in his face, Depp alleged.
"There were times when I would just go and lock myself in the bathroom or a place where she couldn’t get to," Depp said.
Actor Johnny Depp demonstrates how he claims he shielded himself from an alleged attack by his ex-wife Amber Heard as he testifies during his defamation trial against Heard, at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, April 20, 202
Depp said he used drugs and drank alcohol as a way to cope with Heard’s alleged abuse and said she was also a heavy drinker. Depp said he at one point stopped drinking to try to save the relationship, but Heard refused to abstain.
When the divorce news broke, Heard's and Depp's teams issued a joint statement. Depp said he had already left town for New York to prepare for a tour. When asked if he had approved the statement, Depp said he believed it was drafted by lawyers and that he "wasn’t given much of a choice."
The former couple's joint statement called their relationship "intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love" and added that "neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm."
At the time, Depp's lawyers fired back, saying the statement released by Heard's lawyers was false.
After the initial divorce news broke, alleged details of their marriage started to bubble to the surface. Heard had alleged that Depp was verbally and physically abusive during their relationship. She filed – and was granted – a temporary domestic violence restraining order against the actor.
Depp began to address Heard's accusations in detail Wednesday. Heard has said the first time she was assaulted was when Depp slapped her in 2013 after she made fun of a tattoo he had. The tattoo once said "Winona Forever" when he was dating actress Winona Ryder that he altered to "Wino Forever" after they broke up.
"It didn't happen," he said of the alleged assault. "Why would I take such great offense to someone making fun of a tattoo on my body? That allegation never made any sense to me."
Later, he addressed an alleged assault on a private plane flight in 2014 from Boston to Los Angeles. Heard has said Depp became blackout intoxicated and assaulted her on the plane ride.
Depp testified he took two oxycodone pills — an opiate to which he admits he was addicted at the time — and locked himself in the plane bathroom and fell asleep to avoid her badgering.
Depp testified he drank only a glass of champagne as he boarded the plane. But, according to evidence introduced at a similar trial in England where Depp sued a British tabloid — a lawsuit he lost — Depp texted his friend, actor Paul Bettany, and referenced drinking half a bottle of whiskey, "a thousand Red Bull vodkas" and two bottles of champagne before the flight.
Depp also discussed a violent argument in 2015 — shortly after they were married — in Australia that resulted in the tip of his middle finger being cut off.
US actor Johnny Depp testifies during his defamation trial in the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 19, 2022. - Depp is suing ex-wife Amber Heard for libel after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 r
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He said Heard was irate that Depp's lawyers had asked her to sign a post-nuptial agreement.
He said she threw two vodka bottles at him, the second of which exploded where he had placed his hand on a basement bar, severing the finger to the point where bone was exposed.
"I don’t know what a nervous breakdown feels like, but that’s probably the closest I’ve ever been," he said.
Depp said he began to write on the walls in his own blood to recount lies in which he had caught Heard.
Depp told hospital doctors he had injured himself, and contemporaneous text messages introduced as evidence refer to Depp injuring himself. Depp testified he lied about the cause of the injury to protect her. In opening statements, Heard's lawyers said the laws of physics do not support Depp's story, and they will introduce evidence to prove that.
Depp, who says he called it quits with Heard the same day his mother died, also gave a graphic description of a final fight as the couple drifted toward divorce, accusing Heard and her friends of pretending that he was assaulting her. Soon after, Heard sought a restraining order and was photographed with marks on her face.
He testified that Heard was on the phone with a friend shouting, "Stop hitting me Johnny!" even though he was standing nowhere near her.
The fight had started as Depp said he’d come to the realization after his mother’s death that it was time for the couple to split. The argument intensified, he said, as Depp accused her of leaving human fecal matter on his side of the bed in the penthouse they’d shared. He said Heard kept denying it, blaming it on their small dogs, but he was convinced she was lying.
"On my side of the bed was human fecal matter," he recalled. "I laughed. It was so outside, it was so bizarre and so grotesque that I could only laugh."
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Depp has previously accused Heard or one of her friends of defecating in the bed. But Heard has denied it, blaming the feces on her teacup Yorkies.
"I lived with those dogs for many years," Depp said. "That did not come from a dog. It just didn't."
During his testimony, Depp said that part of the reason he remained in a toxic marriage with Heard so long was that she would threaten suicide.
He alleged Heard had mentioned killing herself several times and that terrified him.
"When I would leave sometimes, she would stop me at the elevator with the security guards, crying, screaming, 'I can’t live without you! I’m going to die!'" he recalled.
Their divorce was finalized in 2017. Depp testified Wednesday that he agreed to pay out a $7 million divorce settlement to Heard that year.
Moving on from Depp
In 2016, following her split from Depp, rumors started swirling that Heard was dating Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The two would confirm the relationship in 2017 when they were photographed together in Australia.
They broke up only to reconcile before calling it off for good in 2018.
Musk has been named as a witness in the Depp lawsuit. Depp previously alleged that Heard began an affair with Musk just one month after Depp and Heard got married in 2015. Musk has denied the allegation.
CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk speaks at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing "Cyber Rodeo" grand opening party on April 7, 2022 in Austin, Texas. - Tesla welcomed throngs of electric car lovers to Texas on April 7 for a huge party inaugurating a "gigaf
In a statement to Fox News Digital at the time, a Musk representative said, "Elon and Amber didn't start seeing each other until May 2016, and even then it was infrequent. They were not on the same continent for most of this time. Their relationship didn't become romantic until much later."
Following her relationship with Musk, she also dated art dealer Vito Schnabel. Heard is currently dating girlfriend Bianca Butti. She's also been tied to Cara Delevingne.
Meanwhile, actor James Franco – who Heard hasn't been linked to publicly, though Depp alleged the two also had an affair – will reportedly testify after surveillance footage showed him entering an elevator with Heard about 24 hours following one of Depp and Heard's alleged fights.
Things were silent on the Depp-Heard divorce front until Depp sued Heard after she wrote a 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post titled, "I Spoke Up Against Sexual Violence — And Faced Our Culture’s Wrath. That Has To Change," in which she referred to herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse."
Depp testified Wednesday that the fallout from Heard's op-ed branding him an abuser was swift.
"I don’t think it took Disney very long, maybe a couple of days, to announce that I had been removed from the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' films franchise," he said. "I lost nothing less than everything."
But, he said, the real damage began when she made the initial accusations.
"I will live with that for the rest of my life because of the allegations," he told the jury. " It was such a big, high-profile case that I lost then no matter the outcome of this trial."
During cross-examination, one of Heard's defense lawyers, Ben Rottenborn, pressed Depp on how there was no mention of the actor's name in the op-ed, to which Depp explained he believes it's very easy to write a piece without pointing the finger at someone.
Actress Amber Heard attends the defamation trial against her at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, April 20, 2022. - Actor Johnny Depp sued ex-wife Heard for libel after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018
Additionally, Rottenborn presented a news article reporting that Disney had already dropped Depp for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" part, contrary to the "Black Mass" star's allegation that Heard's op-ed cost him the role.
The cross-examination of Depp continues Thursday and will mark his third day on the stand.
In a separate lawsuit Depp filed against a British newspaper, a judge dismissed the case, finding that Depp assaulted Heard on a dozen occasions and put her in fear for her life on multiple occasions.
Heard has filed a countersuit against Depp that accuses his lawyers of defaming her at his direction.
Watch the Johnny Depp trail live here:
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Fox News' Julius Young and Rebecca Rosenberg as well as The Associated Press contributed to this report.