Johnny Depp and Amber Heard React to the Defamation Verdict

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

On Wednesday, June 1, a jury found Amber Heard guilty of defaming her ex-husband Johnny Depp in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. The jury also awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, though that number will be adjusted to abide by Virginia law. Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and $0 in punitive damages relating to Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman’s 2020 op-ed in The Daily Mail. Shortly after the verdict was made public, Depp, who was in England during the verdict, went to his typewriter to craft a statement. Then he posted it to Instagram.

“Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people, who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed,” he wrote. “All in the blink of an eye.” (He is apparently referring to the op-ed which was at the center of the trial, in which he is not named.) “False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me.” Addressing Wednesday’s verdict, Depp said in part, “The jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.” He did not address the jury’s decision to find Depp’s team guilty on one count of defamation.

Depp went on to insist that his only intention going into the trial was “to reveal the truth,” adding, “I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.” Finally, he thanked his fans for their “colossal support and kindness.” (He did not mention the TikToks.) He also thanked the judge, jurors, court staff, and his “unwavering legal team.” He also appeared to wink at the myth of cancel culture, saying, “I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media.”

“The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun,” he concluded, seemingly hinting at his ongoing return to the spotlight. “Truth never perishes.”

Depp’s statement, posted on Instagram, received immediate support from a handful of famous fans. Ryan Adams, who has faced his own allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and emotional abuse (allegations he has denied), commented on Depp’s Instagram, leaving a series of congratulatory emoji — a heart, raised hands, and the fire emoji. Sofia Richie, Naomi Campbell, and Zedd also left comments of support.

Amber Heard also addressed the jury’s findings on Instagram and Twitter with her own statement. “I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” she wrote. The actor then widened the scope of the trial’s impact, calling the findings “a setback” that “sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated.” She also brought in the issue of freedom of speech, concluding, “I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly.” She limited comments on her post.

On Thursday, Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft appeared on the Today show, where she said that Heard is “absolutely not” able to pay the total of $8.35 million she now owes in damages to Depp and that she plans to appeal the verdict. “A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed, and it caused the jury to be confused,” Bredehoft said, noting that Heard was “demonized” by Depp’s legal team despite the “enormous amount of evidence” she and her attorneys presented.

The highly publicized trial and the media that surrounded it has reportedly already had an effect on victims of abuse, negatively affecting their decisions to come forward against their alleged abusers. You can donate to help support domestic-abuse survivors here.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard React to the Defamation Verdict