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UPDATE, 1 PM PT: Johnny Depp was “drunk a lot of the time,” Ellen Barkin told a Virginia courtroom today of her Fear and Loathing in Last Vegas co-star in his $50 million defamation suit against Amber Heard.
The highest-profile witness to give testimony at the April 11 starting trial, Barkin’s stint on the virtual stand was relatively short and scathing for Depp. In a video deposition from November 22, 2019, the Emmy-winning actress told the court Thursday that Depp was always drinking or smoking a joint during their time as a couple of sorts in the mid-1990s.
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Heard and her legal team have described the abusive “monster” that Depp became under the influence of booze and drugs repeatedly. Vehemently denying that he abused or sexually assaulted Heard, Depp has declared in his March 2019 suit against Heard for a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed on being a survivor of domestic abuse that he was in fact the one being abused. The former Pirates of the Caribbean actor has also insisted that besides a bout with opioid Oxycodone in and around 2014, he has never had a drug or alcohol problem, no matter how much he ingests.
Laying out a menu of “hallucinogenic, cocaine, marijuana” drug use that she claimed was constant for Depp, Barkin today detailed how things between her and the actor evolved — and how they went south.
“He switched the buttons,” Barkin said of the change in her relationship in 1994 with Depp, who she had known for several years beforehand. “The friendship went from a purely platonic relationship” to…a “sexual” one for “several months,” the Animal Kingdom star detailed.
While Barkin did not speak of any violence she experienced from Depp directly, the actress did provide details on outbursts and obsessive traits he displayed.
“Mr. Depp threw a wine bottle across the hotel room in Las Vegas while we were shooting Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” she said of the 1996 film based on Depp pal Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal 1971 novel. Barkin said the bottle was thrown toward her and others in Mr. Depp’s Sin City suite during “a fight.”
“He is just a jealous man, controlling,” Barkin also said of Depp in language and details that are very similar to how Heard and other witnesses for the defense have characterized the actor. “I had a scratch on my back once that got him very very angry because he thought I was having sex with someone I wasn’t.”
The relationship ended suddenly and Barkin said in her video deposition that she “never heard” from Depp again over the past two decades.
Barkin also testified in the actor’s unsuccessful 2020 UK libel suit against Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater.” All appeals on that matter on the other side of the Atlantic have been fruitless — to Depp’s obvious frustration.
Earlier in the afternoon, Heard’s former attorney Michele Mulroney appeared in a pre-recorded video deposition. She discussed her relationship with her one-time client and Heard’s then soon-to-be husband.
“Very mean,” the lawyer said to the court of Depp’s behavior to her. “He called me names and he fired me on behalf of Amber,” Mulroney added of the widely-covered call that Depp made to her as Heard and he were about to be married.
Depp and Heard never got a pre-nup after Mulroney was axed. With a $7 million settlement for Heard, couple divorced in 2016 amidst a media frenzy and temporary restraining order that the actress got against Depp.
Also this afternoon in the Fairfax County Courthouse, Disney production executive Tina Newman testified in a February 11, 2022 video deposition that the likes of then House of Mouse brass Alan Horn and Alan Bergman and others passed emails around the studio in early 2018 containing articles about Depp’s antics on the set of 2017’s Dead Men Tell No Tales and details of his personal life. Newman also said she was “not aware” that Heard’s op-ed played any role in Depp not being asked back for a yet unmade Pirates 6.
In his defamation suit and testimony, Depp has contended that the op-end, which never mentioned him by name, “devastated” his career and cost him lucrative movie roles.
The trial is continuing Thursday with a video deposition from a Doctor Blaustein on Depp’s “substance abuse” and “anger issues.” Also appearing via a March 1, 2022 video deposition, Heard’s WME agent Jessica Kovacevic testified that her client lost the expected bounce out of the success of 2018’s Aquaman and the negative tweets and statements from Depp’s pal and ex-lawyer Adam Waldman “added fuel to the fire.”
“Because typically when you have an actor in a movie as successful as that, as Aquaman was, their career total changes ..they’re more bankable,” a circumspect Kovacevic said. “With her, that did not happened.”
“No one can say out loud that we’re taking this away from her because of this bad press ..but there is no other reason, the agent added, giving the example of an Amazon movie that suddenly was no longer interested in Heard as the blast radius from Depp’s 2019 lawsuit grew.
Today’s session is expected to go until about 5:30 PM ET and will resume at 9 AM ET on May 23. Closing arguments in the bitter legal battle are set right now for May 27, Judge Penny Azcarte has said.
PREVIOUSLY, 9 AM PT: The jury in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial on Thursday saw the actor’s former agent and former business manager describe the collapse of his reputation and his finances by the time they were let go in 2016.
UTA’s Tracey Jacobs, who had represented Depp since the 1990s, laid out how the star came to the agency early in 2016 demanding $20 million. In pre-recorded video testimony that was played for the jury, Heard’s attorney asked Jacobs, “So Mr. Depp came in and said, ‘I want you to get $20 million for me?'”
“Actually it was, ‘I want you to give me 20 million,'” Jacobs said. “The question was not asked as a loan.”
Jacobs said that UTA partners Jim Berkus and Jeremy Zimmer, who were present at the meeting, told Depp that “we are not in a position to give our clients that kind of money. We are not a bank.”
But Depp thought that the agency should just give him the money, Jacobs said, given the length of time that they represented him.
Later, Depp’s former business manager, Joel Mandel, described Depp’s personal fortune exploding in the early 2000s, but that the situation began to change around 2010. Mandel said that Depp’s spending “had grown very large,” and that when his income dropped off, Depp’s expenses became “untenable.” That included $300,000 per month spent on staff.
Mandel said that he had “constant” conversations with Depp about curbing spending, but that it “never seemed to happen.”
By 2015, Mandel, the situation had gotten so alarming that Depp was unable to pay his taxes. He said that Depp was resistant to one suggestion, that he sell a property in the south of France.
Depp fired Mandel later in 2016, and then sued the business management firm for $25 million. The lawsuit was settled in 2018.
In his deposition, Mandel denied that he had ever stolen or embezzled any money, or had taken any money from the actor other than fees.
Jacobs testified that they were able to secure a loan for Depp through Bank of America. “It was very helpful for him.”
By the time that Depp dropped UTA in 2016, Jacobs said that his reputation for being tardy to sets had made it more difficult to get him work. “His star had dimmed due to it having harder to get him jobs due to the reputation he had acquired due to his lateness and other things,” she said.
She said that the “other things” included questions about his drug and alcohol use. She said that she referred that Depp see Dr. David Kipper, whose practice assisted other high profile individuals in getting sober.
“People were talking, and the question was out there about his behavior,” she said.
Depp sued Heard after she published a Washington Post op ed in December, 2018, in which she said that she wrote that she had “became a public figure representing domestic abuse.” In his $50 million lawsuit, Depp claimed that the op ed damaged his reputation, costing him high paying roles like the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Heard’s legal team has argued that Depp’s reputation was damaged well before that point, due to his lateness on film sets and a life of heavy alcohol and drug use.
Jacobs said that Depp was paid $25 million plus backend for Pirates 5, but that she could not recall whether there was any kind of negotiation for him to appear in the next in the film franchise. She said that they also secured a role for him in Murder On the Orient Express, in which he would be paid $5 million for four consecutive weeks of work, plus a portion of the backend.
Although Depp had anger issues, Jacobs said, she said that she never witnessed him hit a woman or throw anything at a woman. Depp has denied Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse.
Jacobs represented Depp first when she was at ICM and then when she went to UTA. She described how Depp’s career flourished, and he became “the biggest star in the world.” But she said that her work became more “complicated” in her last 10 years of representation, as he began to show up late “consistently on virtually every movie.”
“I would get yelled at” by the studio, she said. “I never said to him, ‘You are a difficult client.’ I never used those words, but was very honest with him. I said, ‘You have got to stop doing this. This is hurting you, and it did.”
She said that she went to Australia twice, where Pirates 5 was in production, because of the complaints of Depp’s lateness to the set. Asked about one of Depp’s reasons for dropping her as his agent — that her interests “were different than when we started” — Jacobs denied that she had conflicts and said that she was never represented by Mandel.
Heard’s attorney asked Jacobs, “What would you say his reputation is today?”
“His lawsuits don’t help. It’s endless,” Jacobs said, before adding that she didn’t know because “I’m not out there selling him.
Later, Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman testified that he gave The Daily Mail two audio recordings. Heard’s $100 million countersuit against Depp claims that Waldman helped orchestrate a smear campaign against her by casting her abuse allegations as fabricated. His testimony was limited, as Depp’s team cited attorney-client privilege. Waldman did acknowledge engaging with figures he described as “internet journalists,” or those he said were not connected to mainstream news outlets. They included phone calls with a person who posts on social media by the name of “That Umbrella Guy,” as well as others.
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