Inside Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Split: Alleged Domestic Abuse, Photo Hacks, and Terriergate
After meeting on ‘The Rum Diary,’ the two stars weathered photo hacks and an Australian witch-hunt, aka ‘terriergate.’ But now, Heard has filed for divorce—and accused him of beating her.
UPDATE 05/27/16: TMZ reports that Amber Heard arrived in court Friday with bruises on her face and photos depicting injuries she says Depp inflicted on her multiple times throughout their marriage. The latest injury, Heard says, happened Saturday night when Depp smashed his iPhone on her face. She claims the actor offered her money to stay quiet but instead she filed for divorce the next morning. Heard is also seeking a temporary restraining order against the actor.
She’d given to affectionately calling him “Tonto,” the character he portrayed in the disasterpiece The Lone Ranger, and they’d weathered a series of tabloid pseudo-scandals, but this week, the striking actress Amber Heard decided to call it quits with her screen icon husband, Johnny Depp.
Heard, 30, reportedly filed for divorce from the 52-year-old Depp on May 22, two days after the passing of his mother, Betty Sue Palmer. She was 81.
According to TMZ, the couple had no prenuptial agreement and Heard is seeking spousal support from her ex, who is worth an estimated $400 million—and is the proud owner of a 6-beach island in the Bahamas that he’s dubbed “Fuck Off Island.” Depp’s lawyer, Laura Wasser, has filed a response requesting that the judge reject the spousal support claim. Heard is, of course, a popular actress in her own right, having recently starred in the films Magic Mike XXL and The Danish Girl. She is also set to star as Mera, the Queen of Atlantis, in the upcoming superhero blockbusters Aquaman and the two-part Justice League film. Depp, meanwhile, has the sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass opening this weekend.
It had been, if the tabloids are to be believed, a relationship fraught with difficulties—the considerably older Depp painted as the pursuer and Heard the hotly pursued.
Depp had handpicked Heard over a bevy of other screen beauties, including Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley, to star opposite him as the glamorous female lead of The Rum Diary. The film was a labor of love for Depp—shot in scenic Puerto Rico, adapted from the Hunter S. Thompson novel of the same name, and with the actor playing a version of his late pal. Filming for the movie began in March 2009 and lasted through the summer, and their chemistry onscreen is palpable. There was, by the stars’ own admission, quite a bit of boozing during production, with rum the drink of choice.
In a prior interview with The Daily Beast, Heard called filming The Rum Diary “the best experience ever,” and shared a story about Depp purchasing her a bicycle for her birthday that she rode all over San Juan. “I drank lots of rum and tried not to fall off my bicycle,” she said.
There were light rumors at the time that the chemistry between Depp and Heard continued when the cameras stopped rolling, though both actors have remained mum about exactly when their romance sparked. Depp was still in a long-term relationship with his partner (and the mother of his two children) Vanessa Paradis, while Heard was dating her partner Tasya van Ree. Heard would confirm the relationship with van Ree, coming out as bisexual at GLAAD’s 25th anniversary party in December 2010.
“I just decided to lift the veil of ambiguity and the shadow it creates on those in the media who choose to ‘keep it a secret’ or just simply don’t talk about it,” Heard told The Daily Beast. “It’s still not [fully accepted] but the necessity for doing that is all the more prevalent, important, and necessary.”
The Rum Diary was released in October 2011 to mixed reviews and mediocre box office receipts, but it reunited Depp and Heard for the film’s lengthy worldwide promotional tour. Shortly thereafter, rumors began circulating that Depp had separated from Paradis, his partner of 14 years—they hadn’t been seen together in public for months—and they released an official statement through their publicist(s) confirming it in June 2012, saying, “Please respect their privacy, and more importantly, the privacy of their children.”
I visited Paradis—the stunning actress, singer, and former model—at her New York pied-à-terre a few months after the separation announcement, and she seemed rather worn out by all the gossip, refusing to expand on why they split.
“I don’t sell my private life, and nobody knows the truth or has done a proper journalist’s work on that situation,” she emphatically told me. “Nowadays, people speculate, but nobody knows! I have my children to protect. There are children involved, so it’s really no one’s business but the family.”
In late 2012, following the split announcement, Depp and Heard went public with their relationship. They briefly broke up in late 2012—Heard reportedly dumped Depp for French model Marie de Villepin (the daughter of former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin)—but had reunited by April the following year. They became engaged on Christmas Eve 2013, and apparently the actress needed some serious convincing.
“Amber really took her time to make up her mind,” a source told Celebuzz. “She turned him down before, before she said yes. So she waited and was thinking about it for a long time.” Depp even took to wearing an engagement ring on his finger, claiming it was too big for Heard.
And in the July 2013 issue of Rolling Stone, Depp opened up about his breakup with Paradis for the first time.
“The last couple years have been a bit bumpy,” Depp told the mag. “At times, certainly unpleasant, but that’s the nature of breakups, I guess, especially when there are kiddies involved… Relationships are very difficult. Especially in the racket that I’m in because you’re constantly away or they’re away and so it’s hard. It wasn’t easy on her. It wasn’t easy on me. It wasn’t easy on the kids.
“In terms of the breakup, I definitely wasn’t going to rely on the drink to ease things or cushion the blow or cushion the situation,” he added, comparing it to his breakup with Winona Ryder in the early ’90s that left him deeply depressed, and taking his frustrations out on a young Leonardo DiCaprio. “Cause that could have been fatal. I felt it was my duty to be real clear throughout that. I had something pretty serious to focus on, really, which was making sure that my kids were gonna be cool.”
In September 2014, Heard was one of dozens of A-list Hollywood women targeted in what Internet trolls crudely labeled “The Fappening,” where hundreds of naked photos of celebrity women were hacked through phishing scams and posted online. One of Heard’s featured her holding a sign (presumably to Depp) that reportedly read, “Good afternoon my beloved Tonto man. This blonde Texan bitch will eat you alive. I want. I need. Give me what’s mine!!”
Depp and Heard married in February 2015 at their home in Los Angeles, before honeymooning on “Fuck Off Island.” By April, however, the tabloids began reporting of trouble in paradise, and that the two were “on the verge of a split.”
“They’re barely talking,” reported In Touch, adding, “Amber is constantly worried about him. He’ll go days without calling or texting her... He parties and it’s caused huge fights with Amber. It’s been hard for them.” People also reported that they were leading “separately lives,” but then strangely deleted the post.
It’s not easy to, just after after your wedding, have Heard jet off to London to shoot The Danish Girl and Depp be over in Australia shooting Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, but alas. Things got even hairier when, in May 2015, Heard was accused of not declaring their two Yorkshire Terriers, Pistol and Boo, when she landed in Queensland, Australia, via private jet to visit Depp while shooting Pirates.
Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce made it his own personal mission to torment the two stars, declaring, “If we start letting movie stars even though they’ve been the ‘sexiest man alive’ twice to come into our nation, then why don’t we just break the laws for everybody? It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States.” Joyce and Australian officials continuously remarked that the trumped-up case was “very serious,” threatening Depp with 10 years behind bars and Heard with 11.
After much sniping back-and-forth between the showboating Joyce and beside himself Depp, the two actors were finally cleared of the charges last month after paying a $1,000 fine and—in a head-scratching display—appearing in a conciliatory, hostage-like quarantine video played in the Magistrates Court where they were forced to apologize to the country of Australia profusely for bringing their puppies in without the proper documentation.
Last June, Heard spoke for the first time about her relationship with Depp, telling Elle, “Nothing is a dramatic change. We’ve been together for a long time now, so it’s been a fairly organic process. I have a fiercely independent spirit.”
She later lamented the loss of freedom that comes with fame. “The thing that really scares me is the potential of losing my freedom. I never want for my life to lose the ability to transverse the world, with freedom and ease. The freedom and ease I have worked so hard to acquire for myself.”
The whole Aussie ordeal couldn’t have been easy on them, and neither could the near-constant distance, but who knows what compelled Heard to finally put the kibosh on the relationship with her “Tonto.”As for good ol’ Pistol and Boo, well, it remains to be seen how they’ll be divvied up.