The long-awaited defamation trial against Depp’s ex-wife Heard, whom he met while filming The Rum Diary in 2011 and married in 2015, will begin on Monday, April 11.
After she filed for a domestic violence restraining order against him in May 2016, accusing him of beating her, the couple split up. Depp rejected the allegations, and the former couple reached an out-of-court settlement in August 2016.
Depp, 58, issuing Heard, 35, over an op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post in 2018 on surviving domestic violence, but she never referenced Depp by name in the piece.
The trial in Fairfax, Virginia, is expected to begin next week after multiple postponements since Depp first filed the $50 million case in March 2019. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the proceedings, including how to watch them from the comfort of your own home.
What distinguishes this trial from the one in London?
Depp lost his widely publicized U.K. libel action against British newspaper The Sun for labeling him a “wife-beater” in November 2020. The outlet’s accusations were found to be “basically truthful” by the court, and Heard testified to back up the claims. The Pirates of the Caribbean star’s petition to reverse the decision was denied in March 2021.
However, because Depp is suing Heard directly rather than through a media corporation in this libel lawsuit, her obligations and requirements to participate in the proceedings are different this time.
Heard had earlier requested for Depp’s Virginia action to be dismissed, arguing that the U.K. ruling should govern the proceedings in the United States because both lawsuits rely on allegations of abuse by Depp. However, in August, a Virginia judge allowed Depp to continue his lawsuit, rejecting Heard’s additional appeal to dismiss the case.
This case is also distinct from the last one in that the outcome will be decided by a jury rather than a judge alone, as was the situation in the United Kingdom.
Who is involved in this?
A number of well-known people with ties to the former marriage are likely to testify as witnesses, some in person and others online.
Heard will have her Pineapple Express co-star and pal James Franco, actress Ellen Barkin, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk testify electronically as witnesses for her at the trial, according to Deadline. After the star’s texts with Depp were made public in the previous trial, WandaVision actor Paul Bettany will testify virtually for Depp.
Heard earlier testified in a foreign court that she told Franco about bruising she received from an apparent altercation with Depp. Depp also claims that Heard had an affair with Musk “no later than one month after” she and Depp married in his complaint.
How do you tune in?
Court TV is broadcasting live coverage of the Depp v. Heard trial, which is also available to watch online.
“High-profile court cases like this one typically generate a lot of noise, and it can be difficult for viewers to cut through these distractions to get a clear picture of the facts,” said Ethan Nelson, interim head of Court TV, in a press statement.
“Court TV will be the true source of an unbiased, down-the-middle perspective of the trial as it unfolds, thanks to the camera feed directly from the courtroom and our first-class lineup of performers.”
Vinnie Politan, Julie Grant, Michael Ayala, Ted Rowlands, and Ashley Willcott will serve as anchors, with Julia Jenaé, Chanley Painter, and Joy Lim Nakrin serving as correspondents.