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The actress, 36, is speaking out for the first time since a seven-person jury declared that Depp, 59, proved Heard defamed him in her 2018 op-ed about coming forward with allegations of sexual violence. And in the sit-down — which aired in part on Today Tuesday — Guthrie grilled Heard over her claims that she was the victim of Depp's abuse, pointing to arguments his legal team made that the actress instigated the former couple's spats.
"I never had to instigate it. I responded to it," Heard told the host. "When you're living in violence, it becomes normal, as I testified to. You have to adapt."
But Guthrie pointed to the audio tapes in which Heard admitted to hitting Depp. Those recordings, captured as Heard and Depp discussed their explosive March 2015 Australia fight that resulted in Depp's right middle finger being severed at the tip, were played for the jury in April.
"You didn't get punched; you got hit," Heard told her then-husband in the clip. "I'm sorry I hit you like this, but I did not punch you. I did not f-----g deck you. I f-----g was hitting you. I don't know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you're fine. I did not hurt you. I did not punch you. I was hitting you."
Despite what was said, Heard told Guthrie on Today that what was captured in those clips "was no evidence of what was happening. They were evidence of a negotiation of how to talk about that with your abuser."
Guthrie kept at Heard, though. "I'm looking at at transcript where he says. 'You start physical fights' and you said, 'I did start a physical fight. I can't say I won't start one again.' This is in black and white," she countered "I understand context but you testified you never started a physical fight and here you are on tape saying you did."
"As I testified on the stand, when your life is at risk, not only will you take the blame for things that you shouldn't take the blame for, but when you're in an abusive dynamic — psychologically, emotionally, and physically — you don't have the resources that say you or I do with the luxury of saying, 'This is black and white' because it's anything but when you're living in it," Heard told the host.
.@SavannahGuthrie: "You're testifying and you're telling me today, 'I never started a physical fight,' and here you are on tape saying you did."
Amber Heard: "20 second clips or the transcripts of them are not representative of the two or three hours [they] are excerpt from." pic.twitter.com/AfljfZmAwo
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 14, 2022
The Aquaman star added that the tapes, which she said were "first leaked online after being edited," did not share the full story of her encounters with Depp. "20 second clips or the transcripts of them are not representative of the 2 hours or 3 hours that those are excerpted from," she said.
From there, Guthrie pressed her regarding why she hadn't submitted the recordings in full to begin with.
"I'm not a lawyer," Heard said. "As I testified to, I was talking in those recordings as a person in an extreme amount of psychological, emotional and physical distress."
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Depp has maintained that he never assaulted Heard, and claimed she physically harmed him.
Asked by Guthrie on Today if Depp's claims that he never hit her was a lie, Heard said "Yes it is."
As for the witnesses who testified they'd seen Heard instigate physical violence, Heard said, "I've seen first hand how people will file rank and support the person they depend on."
She stopped when asked if they all lied in court too — telling Guthrie instead, "I am not here to call any of his witnesses any names. I'm here to just kind of talk about it what it felt for me as the person who sat there."
"To my dying day, I will stand by every word of my testimony," Heard stressed. "I've made a lot of mistakes. A lot of mistakes. But I've always told the truth."
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty, Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP
The verdict in the Depp-Heard case came through on June 1. Depp was awarded $15 million in damages from the jury, though Heard will only have to pay $10.35 million due to a Virginia law limiting punitive damages (the judge reduced the amount). In her countersuit, Heard won one of the three defamation counts, and was awarded $2 million in damages.
Following the verdict, the Pirates of the Caribbean star said in a statement the "jury gave me my life back."
Heard, meanwhile, denounced the decision as a "setback" for women. She told Guthrie that the case is "the most humiliating and horrible thing I have ever been through," saying, "I have never felt more removed form my own humanity. I felt less than human."
Clips from her sit-down with Guthrie are debuting through this week on Today, with the full interview airing on a special Dateline Friday. The interview will then be available on Today's website, and the Dateline episode will be available on Peacock.
Guthrie's husband Michael Feldman has done consulting work for Depp's legal team, though not in connection with Guthrie's interview.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Monday, a spokesperson for Heard addressed why she decided to sit for the televised interview.
"Johnny Depp's legal team blanketed the media for days after the verdict with numerous statements and interviews on television, and Depp himself did the same on social media," the spokesperson said. "Ms. Heard simply intended to respond to what they aggressively did last week; she did so by expressing her thoughts and feelings, much of which she was not allowed to do on the witness stand."