Hollywood star Johnny Depp today denied being a “Jekyll and Hyde” character as he branded ex-wife Amber Heard a “sociopath” who married him to progress her career.
The actor is accused of having a violent alter ego which he dubbed the “monster”, and faced suggestions today that he has an anger problem that he struggles to contain when drunk.
But giving evidence at his High Court libel battle with The Sun, Mr Depp insisted he is not a “horrible monster” as he was forced to revisit his hell-raising past including the trashing of a New York hotel room and violent clash with paparazzi.
“The monster could be pain, it could be raising of voices, it could be slamming of cupboards and kicking doors”, he said.
Asked by The Sun’s barrister Sasha Wass QC if it was the way he described his “bad boy” alter ego, Mr Depp said: “The monster is something (Ms Heard) unfortunately grabbed on to as a way to define me, and it’s not altogether what she says it is”.
Ms Wass showed a video to the court, covertly filmed by Ms Heard which showed Mr Depp smashing cupboards before pouring himself a “mega pint of red wine” and saying: “You want to see crazy, I’ll show you something crazy”.
Ms Wass asked: “Would you say that was the monster in you?”.
The actor replied: “If Ms Heard plans that to be the monster, she wants that to be the monster, but I don’t believe that to be the monster.
“It’s ephemeral, it’s not Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is what I’m trying to say. I don’t believe I’m the monster.”
Mr Depp and Ms Heard met during the filming of The Rum Diaries, and started a relationship later after they reunited for promotion of the movie.
In his written witness statement, Mr Depp said Ms Heard talked to him on the press tour about breaking up with her former partner and he believes she planned to start a relationship with him.
“If I had known then what I knew now, I would have seen the red flag warning signs, but I did not”, he said. “She was beautiful, seemingly incredibly interested in me and my work, and I fell for it.
“She bombed me with what appeared to be love. It was not until much later that I understood that she had an agenda, namely to get married to me in order to progress her own career and/or to benefit financially, and she knew how to bring it about.”
Mr Depp said he was “an easy target”, accepting at the time Ms Heard’s love for his movies but later found out she had not seen many of them.
Earlier the court heard that the Pirates of the Caribbean star, 57, was ordered by a court in 1994 to pay almost $10,000 for damage he has done to a suite at the luxury Mark Hotel, while staying there with then-girlfriend supermodel Kate Moss.
Mr Depp agreed he had “trashed” the living room, but denied media reports the incident was sparked by a domestic row and said Ms Moss was asleep in the bedroom at the time.
“I had a friend for a very long time and he had – for the lack of a better description – screwed me over”, Mr Depp said. “When I was angry then, I smashed things up.”
Asked to explain how he had caused so much damage, Mr Depp said he “made a few dents” and said: “It was a very long time ago, there was a vase that got turned over and I slid a couch across the room.
“I don’t recall it lasted very long – I didn’t rip things off the well or anything.”
He added: “When I left the room it was not unliveable, just put a new vase in and maybe a cup or two”. But he accepted it was “ridiculous” that he attacked a hotel room.
The court was also told how Mr Depp wrote an email to Sir Elton John in 2012 thanking him for help battling his alcohol problem, in which he said he would have been “swallowed up by the monster were it not for you”.
Ms Wass suggested: “You referred to a monster as that part of your being which was destructive and angry – an addict”. She asked if it was his “pet name for Mr Hyde”.
“No ma’am”, replied the star. “I appreciate your need to continue to apply the word ‘monster’ as an alter ego. The word monster has many uses, we could all find it in a dictionary – I’m not being facetious or trying to be rude – I would have been swallowed up by the monster were it not for you, that’s the simple fact.
“It’s the same as saying I would have been consumed by this poison, the monster here is death.”
The court heard Mr Depp was held on suspicion of assault in 1989 when filming the TV show 21 Jump Street, and this morning he discussed his drug use on Hollywood film sets and with other stars.
Mr Depp told the court: “I have at times smoked marijuana at work and at times, when you are on your 17th hour of the day, yes I’ve taken cocaine. But occasionally, not as a regular thing.”
He confirmed that known drug users Hunter S Thompson and Keith Richards are “role models” as well as friends, and said he had taken drugs twice in the past with musician Marilyn Manson.
Asked if Avengers star Paul Bettany was a “drug buddy”, Mr Depp said: “Yes, we have dabbled in drugs together.
“If he was feeling anxious or unpleasant, I would give him what he asked for.”
Mr Depp also revisited the 1993 death of his friend, film star River Phoenix, from a drug overdose on the street outside his Viper Room club in Los Angeles.
The star is giving evidence on the first day of his libel trial against The Sun, who he accuses of wrongly dubbing him a “wife-beater” during his volatile marriage to actress Amber Heard.
The lid was first lifted off their relationship in 2016 when Ms Heard filed for divorce and went to an LA court to obtain a restraining order against him, claiming she had been the victim of domestic abuse.
Mr Depp told the court he hired a hotel room at the time for them to talk privately, and claimed Ms Heard asked him for a hug despite the restraining order being in place.
“I didn’t think it was right given the circumstances”, he said, “if she had said to the world she was in fear of her life and from me and I had been this horrible monster, if you will, which was not the case.
“I thought I didn’t understand why she would want to touch me.”
Mr Depp said they talked in the hotel suite and he suggested that his estranged wife sleep for a few hours because she “looked just exhausted”.
“She was complaining of palpitations, she wasn’t feeling well”, he said. “I suggested she took a nap and sleep for two or three hours, and I would then wake her up.
“I walked her to the bedroom, pulled down the sheets, got her into bed, and covered her. Before I covered her, she looked at me and asked if I was getting into the bed to cuddle and hold her. I said no, I’m not.
“I tucked her in and walked back into the living room.”
He added: “In the living room I was doing my best to try and make sense of what had happened. I was trying to make sense of everything, given all the circumstances surrounding our lives, my life at the time.
“I sat there and I thought it was a very emotional time, I sat and I cried.”
Asked by The Sun’s lawyer Sasha Wass QC if there is “another side of you that’s less charming”, Mr Depp replied: “That wouldn’t be for me to judge.”
He then denied there is a “nasty, angry side” to his character, saying: “I’m well aware there has been quite a lot of pain from youth and the way I was raised.
“In trying to figure out what it’s all about when success and notoriety come to you and you don’t quite understand why they come to you and you don’t understand why you have them, especially when you don’t feel in your heart worthy of them, it’s a confusing thing.
“You have become a product, your name no longer sounds the way it did when you were growing up. The sound of my own name, even when I speak my own name, it sounds foreign to me.”
Faced with evidence from Ellen Barkin, his ex-girlfriend and co-star on the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Mr Depp denied allegations that he was “controlling” and had turned abusive when in “jealous” rages.
“She has carried a grudge for a very long time”, he said.
He also told the court how he was arrested while in London filming Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, after an incident when he struck a paparazzi photographer on the hand as he was leaving a restaurant.
Mr Depp said he was trying to distract the photographers at the loading bay while his heavily pregnant partner Vanessa Paradis and friends left by another door, to stop them taking pictures of the couple together. He insisted to the court he did not want the “sacred moment” of his first child to become a “circus”.
Mr Depp denies being violent in the marriage to Ms Heard and has accused her of being an abuser towards him. She claims they started taping their conversations because he could not remember how he had behaved when drunk and on drugs.
But he told the court this morning he used the tapes as a record when Ms Heard’s “words later didn’t match what I knew they were”.
He suggested that when arguments “escalated” into violence, he “would try to go into my own corner, as it were. It was very important things separated before things got out of hand”.
The hearing continues.