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DAY 1: Depp v. Heard trial underway, attorneys argue abuse, manipulation from both parties

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Attorneys representing “Sweeny Todd” actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, “Aquaman” actress Amber Heard, accused both parties of abuse and manipulation in their opening statements Tuesday during Depp’s defamation trial against Heard.

Depp, 58, sued Heard, 35, for $50 million in 2019 over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post alleging she was the victim of domestic abuse. She did not directly name Depp in the piece, which her legal team argues was within her rights to publish under the First Amendment, but Depp’s lawyers suggested that readers knew the piece was about the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star anyway and therefore destroyed his career in Hollywood.

US actor Johnny Depp walks into the courtroom during the $50 million Depp vs Heard deformation trail at the Fairfax County Circuit Court April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia. 

US actor Johnny Depp walks into the courtroom during the $50 million Depp vs Heard deformation trail at the Fairfax County Circuit Court April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia. 
(Brendan Smialowski / POOL / AFP)

“The article isn’t about Johnny Depp,” but about “social change” and the First Amendment, Heard’s attorney, Benjamin Rottenborn said during his opening statement in a Fairfax, Virginia, courtroom.

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He added that the actress will take the stand later on in the trial and detail the “graphic and horrifying terms” of her marriage with Depp, which lasted from 2015 to 2017. Rottenborn mentioned one instance of alleged abuse in which Depp “kicked” Heard in the back on a private jet, calling the actor an “obsessed husband hellbent on revenge.”

US actress Amber Heard is seen inside the courtroom during the $50 million Depp vs Heard deformation trail at the Fairfax County Circuit Court April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia. 

US actress Amber Heard is seen inside the courtroom during the $50 million Depp vs Heard deformation trail at the Fairfax County Circuit Court April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia. 
(Brendan SMIALOWSKI / various sources / AFP)

Rottenborn concluded that Depp’s career is “in freefall” due to the “choices that he made,” the attorney said, adding that his behavior was “fueled” by financial strain.

Heard attorney Elaine Bredehoft then previewed graphic abuse allegations against Depp during her opening statements on Tuesday. Bredehoft described various allegations of abuse beginning in 2015 and ending before their marriage was terminated in 2017 that involved the actor allegedly “kicking,” “punching,” and throwing objects at Heard. The attorney also described Depp as “delusional” and “paranoid,” claiming that he would drink and take drugs before allegedly “assaulting” Heard on various occasions.

US actress Amber Heard speaks with her lawyer Elaine Bredehoft during the $50 million Depp vs Heard deformation trail at the Fairfax County Circuit Court April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia. 

US actress Amber Heard speaks with her lawyer Elaine Bredehoft during the $50 million Depp vs Heard deformation trail at the Fairfax County Circuit Court April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia. 
(Brendan SMIALOWSKI / POOL / AFP)

She said video and photo evidence of the alleged abuse will be shown to the jury over the course of the trial.

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A spokesperson for Depp told Fox News Digital that the “fictitious claims” made in Heard’s attorneys’ opening remarks “were never made at the onset of Amber’s allegations in 2016, and only advantageously surfaced years later once she was sued for defamation after noting in her op-ed that she was a victim of ‘sexual violence.'” 

Actress Amber Heard inside the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court, April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Va. A jury in Virginia is scheduled to hear opening statements in a defamation lawsuit filed by Johnny Depp against his ex-wife, Amber Heard.

Actress Amber Heard inside the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court, April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Va. A jury in Virginia is scheduled to hear opening statements in a defamation lawsuit filed by Johnny Depp against his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
(Brendan Smialowski, Pool via AP)

“Words are key in a defamation case and conveniently, this allegation only came after that,” the spokesperson said. “This follows a pattern of her elaborate, erroneous claims which have continued to change and evolve over time for the purpose of Hollywood shock value of which Amber has mastered and used to exploit a serious social movement.” 

Fox News Digital has reached out to Bredehoft’s office for comment.

Depp’s attorneys argued in their opening statements that Heard was emotionally abusive over the course of their marriage, saying she “wooed” him in the beginning of their relationship before things went sour. Depp attorney Benjamin Chew said Heard “painted herself as the innocent victim of abuse” in her 2018 op-ed.

US actor Johnny Depp inside the courtroom during the $50 million Depp vs Heard deformation trail at the Fairfax County Circuit Court April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia.

US actor Johnny Depp inside the courtroom during the $50 million Depp vs Heard deformation trail at the Fairfax County Circuit Court April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia.
(Brendan Smialowski / POOL / AFP)

“The evidence will show that that was a lie and that remains a lie,” he said, adding that “Hollywood studios” don’t want to face the backlash of hiring an actor accused of domestic abuse, which can “devastate” a career and a family such as Depp’s. Depp has two adult children, and Heard has a 1-year-old daughter.

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Camille Vasquez, another attorney representing Depp, later argued that Heard “manipulated” Depp and “berated” him. Depp would respond by hiding during fights with Heard, Vasquez said.

In this Jan. 2, 2016, file photo, Amber Heard, left, and Johnny Depp arrive at the 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala in Palm Springs, Calif. In a complaint filed Friday, March 1, 2019, Depp is suing his ex-wife Heard in a $50 million defamation lawsuit, citing a piece she wrote for The Washington Post about domestic abuse.

In this Jan. 2, 2016, file photo, Amber Heard, left, and Johnny Depp arrive at the 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala in Palm Springs, Calif. In a complaint filed Friday, March 1, 2019, Depp is suing his ex-wife Heard in a $50 million defamation lawsuit, citing a piece she wrote for The Washington Post about domestic abuse.
(AP)

“Mr. Depp will go to his grave knowing that, whatever what he does, there will always be people who believe he abused a woman,” Vasquez said.

Heard received a temporary restraining order against Depp in 2016, but after their divorce was settled in 2017, she dropped the order, according to the Associated Press. 

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