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Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard: Everything to Know About the Defamation Trial — Including How to Watch

Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard begins Monday in Fairfax, Virginia

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are going back to court.

This Monday, April 11, will see the start of Depp’s long-delayed defamation trial against ex-wife Heard, whom he met making the 2011 movie The Rum Diary and married in 2015. The pair then broke up in May 2016, when she sought a domestic violence restraining order against him, accusing him of abusing her. Depp denied the claims, and the former couple settled their divorce out of court in August 2016.

The upcoming trial finds Depp, 58, suing Heard, 35, over her 2018 Washington Post op-ed, in which she wrote about surviving domestic violence, though she never mentioned Depp by name in the article.

After several postponements since Depp originally filed the $50 million lawsuit in March 2019, the trial is officially set to kick off in Fairfax, Virginia, next week. Read on for everything to know about the proceedings — including how to watch from home.

How is this trial different from the one in London?

Back in November 2020, Depp lost his highly publicized U.K. libel lawsuit case against British tabloid The Sun for calling him a “wife-beater.” The court upheld the outlet’s claims as being “substantially true” and Heard testified to back up the claims. In March 2021, the Pirates of the Caribbean star’s attempt to overturn the decision was overruled.

For this libel case, however, Depp is suing Heard directly and not a media company, making her obligations and requirements to participate in the proceedings different this time around.

Heard previously asked to dismiss Depp’s Virginia lawsuit, arguing that the U.K. judgment should hold sway on the proceedings in the U.S. since both lawsuits center on allegations of Depp as an abuser. In August, however, a Virginia judge granted Depp the right to pursue his lawsuit, denying Heard’s supplemental plea to dismiss the case.

This case also differs from the last since a jury will determine the outcome, not a judge alone, like in the U.K. verdict.

Who is involved?

A number of famous people connected to the former couple are expected to testify as witnesses, some virtually.

Deadline reported that Heard is set to have her Pineapple Express costar and friend James Franco, actress Ellen Barkin, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk testify virtually as witnesses for her at the trial. WandaVision actor Paul Bettany will testify virtually for Depp, after the star’s texts with Depp were made public in the previous trial as well.

Heard previously said in court overseas that she once confided in Franco about bruises she sustained from an alleged fight with Depp. Also, in his lawsuit, Depp claims that Heard had an affair with Musk “no later than one month after” she and Depp got married.

JOHN PHILLIPS/GETTY IMAGES; PHILLIP FARAONE/GETTY IMAGES; FRAZER HARRISON/FILMMAGIC; TOMMASO BODDI/WIREIMAGE

(A rep for Musk previously said that “Elon and Amber didn’t start seeing each other until May 2016, and even then it was infrequent. Their relationship didn’t become romantic until some time later.”)

According to Deadline, text messages between Depp, Heard and their colleagues will also be aired out in court, including exchanges between Heard and Jason Momoa and Aquaman director James Wan, as well as Justice League director Zack Synder. Additionally, messages between Depp and Fantastic Beasts screenwriter J.K. Rowling will also reportedly be revealed.

Rowling has publicly defended Depp, though he was replaced in the Harry Potter prequel franchise with actor Mads Mikkelsen in the new Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

How to tune in

The Depp v. Heard trial is receiving live television coverage by Court TV, also streaming online.

“Court cases that are as high-profile as this one often create a lot of noise, and it can be difficult for viewers to break through these distractions to have a clear picture of the facts, but that’s where we come in,” Ethan Nelson, acting head of Court TV, said in a press release. “Between the camera feed directly from the courtroom and our first-class lineup of talent, Court TV will be the true source of an unbiased, down-the-middle perspective of the trial as it unfolds.”

Court TV’s on-air team will feature anchors Vinnie Politan, Julie Grant, Michael Ayala, Ted Rowlands and Ashley Willcott, plus correspondents Julia Jenaé, Chanley Painter and Joy Lim Nakrin.

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