Nearly two weeks after a jury ruled that she had defamed her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, Amber Heard continues to defend herself.
In an exclusive interview with Savannah Guthrie, airing in two parts Tuesday and Wednesday this week on TODAY and in a special Friday on Dateline, the “Aquaman” actor said she won’t back down from her testimony in court and that Depp physically and psychologically abused her.
“To my dying day (I) will stand by every word of my testimony,” Heard said in the interview regarding the former couple’s high-profile defamation case.
The six-week trial saw the couple’s lawyers sift through and scrutinize the darkest moments of their relationship. For his part, Depp sought to absolve himself of allegations made by Heard in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though Heard never named Depp, the actor’s attorneys argued that the opinion piece referenced claims she made at the time of their 2016 divorce. Depp has denied all allegations of abuse.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million, claiming the accusations in the op-ed impacted his career. Heard countersued for $100 million, claiming Depp’s former lawyer defamed her when he called her claims of abuse “a hoax.”
The seven-person jury ultimately ruled in Depp’s favor after finding “clear and convincing evidence” that Heard defamed him. He was awarded $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages. A judge reduced the punitive damages, making the total $10.4 million. Heard was awarded $2 million when the jury found Depp’s lawyer defamed her on one count.
Speaking to Heard, Savannah touched on the toll of audio recordings presented to the jury to corroborate both Heard and Depp’s testimonies. Those recordings became a central talking point online and in the courtroom, as Depp’s legal team called into question Heard’s credibility.
“I am looking at a transcript that says — he says, ‘You start physical fights,’ And you say, ‘I did start a physical fight. I can’t promise you I won’t get physical again,’” Savannah read, adding, “This is in black and white. I understand context. But you’re testifying, and you’re telling me today, ‘I never started a physical fight,’ and here you are on tape saying you did.”
In response, Heard reiterated her testimony during the trial in which she claimed to only become physical with her ex-husband when trying to defend herself.
“As I testified on the stand about this, is that when your life is at risk, not only will you take the blame for things that you shouldn’t take the blame for. But when you’re in an abusive dynamic, psychologically, emotionally and physically, you don’t have the resources that, say, you or I do, with the luxury of saying, ‘Hey, this is black and white,’” she replied. “Because it’s anything but when you’re living in it.”
Following up with Heard’s assertion that she only became physical in response to violence, Savannah pointed to another tape that came up during the trial.
“You’re taunting him and saying, ‘Oh, tell the world, Johnny Depp, I, a man, am a victim of domestic violence,’” Savannah said of the audio.
“Twenty-second clips or the transcripts of them are not representative of even the two hours or the three hours that those clips are excerpt(ed) from,” Heard replied.
Directing the interview to the closing arguments, Savannah touched on a moment in which Depp’s lawyer called Heard’s testimony the “performance of a lifetime” and accused her of acting for the jury.
“Says the lawyer for the man who convinced the world he had scissors for fingers?” Heard remarked in reference to the 1990 film “Edward Scissorhands” in which Depp starred. “I had listened to weeks of testimony — insinuating that or saying quite directly that, you know, I’m a terrible actress. So I’m a bit confused how I could be both.”
Heard and Savannah also spoke about the First Amendment, a right the actor lamented on an Instagram that she felt she’d lost as a result of the trial.
“Here’s the thing about the First Amendment: The First Amendment protects free speech. It doesn’t protect lies that amount to defamation, and that was the issue in the case,” Savannah noted, emphasizing that truth was at the heart of the trial and what the jury was tasked with determining.
“And that’s all I spoke. And I spoke it to power,” Heard replied. “And I paid the price.”