After some tough times in the courtroom for embattled actor Johnny Depp, the former Fantastic Beasts 3 star has picked up a rare win in his ongoing legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard. After Heard alleged in 2018 that Depp had been physically abusive during their marriage, he was described by the UK tabloid The Sun as a “wife beater.” Depp says that the allegations cost him his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series and filed a lawsuit against the tabloid’s publishing company New Group Newspapers.
In November, a UK court rejected Depp’s lawsuit with the judge ruling that what Heard claimed was “substantially true.” Depp was then immediately asked to resign from his role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3, losing another major role due to the allegations. The actor and his lawyers appealed the decision, but amid great controversy, it was rejected by the Court of Appeals in March. Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit against Heard in the United States is scheduled to go to trial in April 2022.
Though he has strong support from his fans, things certainly haven’t gone Depp’s way in the courtroom. The good news for the actor is that a judge has finally ruled in his favor when it comes to questions over the $7 million divorce settlement Depp had paid Heard after the couple officially divorced in 2016. At the time, Heard pledged to donate the entire settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“Money played no role for me personally and never has, except to the extent that I could donate it to charity and, in doing so, hopefully, help those less able to defend themselves,” Heard stated in 2016.
Reiterating this claim earlier this year, Heard said in a witness statement in February: “I remained financially independent from him [Depp] the whole time we were together and the entire amount of my divorce settlement was donated to charity.”
In ruling against Depp in his libel case against New Group Newspapers, Judge Andrew Nichol specifically cited Heard’s alleged donations as a contributing factor. He remarked that the “donation of the $7 million to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a gold digger.”
Depp’s lawyer Andrew Caldecott says that this public pledge made by Heard was nothing more than a “calculated and manipulative lie,” meant only to tip the scales “against Mr. Depp from the very beginning.” He has introduced evidence to support his claims, alleging that the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles wrote to Depp’s business adviser in 2019 and informed them that Heard still hadn’t donated the money.
Caldecott had sought a court order for the ACLU to also turn over documents that would reveal whether or not Heard had made any of the payments that she had pledged. Now, a New York judge has granted a petition by Depp’s legal team to acquire these documents to get a definitive answer. How much this will help Depp in court depends on what is revealed about Heard’s alleged charity payments, but the actor and his lawyers still see this victory as a win that they’re willing to take for now.
“Mr. Depp is most gratified by the court’s decision,” Depp’s attorney Benjamin Chew told USA Today.
In January, Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft said that while the Aquaman star had made some limited payments, she hadn’t fulfilled her pledge to donate all $7 million. She cites financial reasons, insisting that Heard still intends to contribute all of that money “eventually.” Bredehoft also puts some of the blame on Depp’s lawsuit against Heard, though Depp didn’t file the suit against Heard until nearly three years after the divorce.
“Amber has already been responsible for seven figures in donations to charitable causes and intends to continue to contribute and eventually fulfill her pledge,” Bredehoft told E! News. “However, Amber has been delayed in that goal because Mr. Depp filed a lawsuit against her, and consequently, she has been forced to spend millions of dollars defending Mr. Depp’s false accusations against her.”
She added: “Mr. Depp’s effort to plant stories in the media criticizing Amber for not yet fulfilling all the donations she pledged to charity is yet another desperate attempt to divert attention from the UK Court’s findings relating to allegations of Mr. Depp committing domestic abuse and violence.”
It’s obviously been a very messy legal battle, but a good portion of the public seem to believe Depp’s version of events. His lawyers have previously released evidence that appears to be damning for Heard, including audio recordings of the Aquaman star allegedly admitting to being violent with him. In another recording, Heard allegedly tells Depp, “Tell the world, Johnny, tell them, Johnny Depp, ‘I Johnny Depp, a man, I’m a victim too of domestic violence.’ … and see how many people believe or side with you.”
The answer to that question seems to be quite a lot. A popular fan petition was launched for Heard to be fired from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom for allegedly abusing Depp and costing him his role in Fantastic Beasts 3, and it neared nearly two million signatures. It hasn’t been successful as producer Peter Safran has said that the Aquaman 2 team won’t react to “pure fan pressure,” but it does let Depp know just how much support he still has from fans, even if the movie studios are maintaining distance.
Amber Heard can be seen as Mera when Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is released on Dec. 16, 2022. Meanwhile, Depp’s latest movie, Minamata, doesn’t yet have a release date set in the United States. Director Andrew Levitas has accused MGM of intentionally burying its release due to Depp’s involvement, something he heavily criticized the studio over in a letter that can be read online. In any case, it’s been a wild couple of years for Depp. This news comes to us from USA Today.