Depp says wife-beating claim made him ‘Quasimodo’

Hollywood legend Johnny Depp on Friday accused Britain's The Sun tabloid of turning him from 'Cinderella into Quasimodo' by claiming he beat his ex-wife Amber Heard.

The first week of Depp’s star-studded libel trial against the paper’s publisher and executive editor drew to a close with the 57-year-old denying hurling a champagne bottle and a phone at his former wife.

Depp claims charges compiled by Heard over a tumultuous two-year marriage that ended in 2017 were a “hoax” designed to advance her career at his expense.

The Pirates of the Caribbean actor said on Thursday he was so often high or strung out on drugs that he was “in no condition” to hurt the 34-year-old model and film star.

The High Court trial revolves around a 2018 headline in The Sun asking how JK Rowling could be happy casting “wife-beater” Depp in a Fantastic Beasts film.

Depp said the headline altered his Hollywood image and endangered his career.

“I went from Cinderella into Quasimodo in 0.6 seconds and I was without a voice,” he told the court.

“That’s where I was in my life at that point.”

Cinderella is a beautiful fairy tale princess and Quasimodo the disfigured protagonist of Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Depp looked more confident and engaged on the fourth day of the three-week trial than he appeared at its start.

He listened alertly in an olive suit and verbally clashed with publisher News Group Newspapers’ (NGN) lawyer Sasha Wass in an attempt to refute her various charges.

Wass has gone chronologically through each of Depp’s 14 alleged assaults and other abuses.

She attempted on Friday to complete her depiction of the US superstar as self-centred and out of touch with reality due to debilitating drug abuse.

Depp's defence is trying to portray Amber Heard, pictured Thursday at the High Court, as a manipulative and scheming publicity seeker. AFP/File/JUSTIN TALLIS
Depp’s defence is trying to portray Amber Heard, pictured Thursday at the High Court, as a manipulative and scheming publicity seeker. Pictue: AFP/File/JUSTIN TALLIS

Depp countered that it was Heard who was chronically looking for a fight.

He said the he went to read in bed on the night of Heard’s 30th birthday party because “I was trying to avoid another confrontation with Ms Heard about something that didn’t go exactly as she wanted or had planned”.

Depp turned up for the party two hours late because of a difficult business meeting about a financial dispute.

But Wass said Depp was fuming because Heard had pointed out one of his character faults.

“And the argument picked up pace and you picked up the bottle of champagne and you threw it at Ms Heard. And it missed and the bottle hit the wall and it smashed,” the lawyer said.

“And that, I suggest, is how you express yourself when you are angry, you smash things,” the lawyer said.

Depp denied this happened and countered: “I disagree.”

The couple’s marriage was all but over by the time Heard accused Depp of hitting her in the face with a phone in May 2016.

Wass said Depp “wound up like a baseball pitcher” and threw it at his wife at one of their mansions while one of Heard’s friends was on the other line.

Depp denied this but admitted that Heard asked the friend to call the police.

He also said the security on site witnessed how the entire episode was staged.

“She was screaming ‘stop hitting me, Johnny!, stop hitting me, Johnny!’, and the security came and she was still screaming… and I was 20 feet away getting something from the fridge,” Depp said.

Depp has said he was often high or strung out on drugs and "in no condition" to hurt Heard. AFP/Ben STANSALL
Depp has said he was often high or strung out on drugs and “in no condition” to hurt Heard. Picture: AFP/Ben STANSALL

“And then (one of the guards) said boss, let’s get out of here.”

Wass’ cross-examination ended with a 30-minute private session in which reporters were asked to leave the courtroom.

The actor’s attorney David Sherborne then took over by directly asking whether Depp had ever hit a woman.

“Never, no sir,” Depp replied.

Sherborne also got Depp to confirm that no other woman had alleged abuse in his past relationships.

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