Johnny Depp has accused his ex-wife of “building a dossier” from early in their relationship as an “insurance policy for later”.
The High Court heard details of an email written by Amber Heard to the star, which was never sent, in which she said he lived “in a world of enablers”.
The email was read out in court on the second day of Mr Depp’s libel action against The Sun newspaper over an article which labelled him a “wife beater” and referred to “overwhelming evidence” that he attacked Ms Heard, 34, during their relationship, which he denies.
In response to the email, Mr Depp, giving evidence in the three-week trial, said it appeared that “Ms Heard was building a dossier very early on that appears to be an insurance policy for later”.
The 57-year-old is suing the tabloid’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor Dan Wootton over the 2018 article.
Ms Heard’s email, read by Sasha Wass QC, barrister for NGN, began: “I just don’t know if I can do this any more. It is like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Half of you I love madly, and the other half scares me. I can’t take him. I wish I could, but I can’t.
“The problem is, I never really know/understand which one I’m dealing with until it’s too late.
“The drinking assures me that I am dealing with the monster. The abused, scared, insecure, violent little boy. I just can’t tell where the line starts.”
The barrister said to Mr Depp: “Your answer to Ms Heard’s allegation that you were a serial domestic abuser was that this is a hoax.”
Mr Depp replied: “Hoax is probably the best word one could use because the allegations, all of the allegations, are patently untrue.
“From hearing you read out this (email), that was not sent to me, and from some of the information I have garnered from my experience yesterday and having studied the case, I will suggest, ma’am, that it appears to me that Ms Heard was building a dossier very early on that appears to be an insurance policy for later.”
During his second day in the witness box, Mr Depp faced further questioning on his drug use, allegations of violence, his relationship with Ms Heard and accusations of jealousy.
The star denied slapping Ms Heard three times after she laughed at his “Wino Forever” tattoo during a time when he had “fallen off the wagon”.
Ms Wass asked Mr Depp about the alleged incident in March 2013, and the tattoo he had done on his arm during his relationship with actress Winona Ryder, which originally read “Winona Forever” but was changed to “Wino Forever” after they split.
The barrister put it to Mr Depp that he slapped his former wife three times during the incident, to which he replied: “I’m sorry but that is not true, you are mistaken.”
The court heard details of an alleged incident in Hicksville, California, in June 2013 – one of 14 allegations of domestic violence NGN relies on as part of its defence to Mr Depp’s claim, all of which the star denies.
Ms Heard claims he became “enraged” and “jealous” when one of her friends, referred to as Kelly Sue and described as having been “very close to Ms Heard, touched her”.
Ms Wass said to Mr Depp: “You started to get angry, ‘the monster’ joined the party and you took exception to a woman who was in your group called Kelly Sue.”
Mr Depp said he did “take exception”, saying: “She was putting her hands on Amber and I thought it was an uncomfortable position to put her in.”
He denied becoming extremely angry and shouting at her, saying: “I removed Miss Kelly Sue’s hand from Ms Heard’s body and told her not to do that.”
Mr Depp was asked about another alleged incident in March 2013, when Ms Heard claims he hit her several times after an argument about a painting by her ex-partner, Tasya van Ree, which was hanging in her bedroom.
Ms Wass asked: “Would you describe yourself as jealous?,” to which he replied: “I am, yes. I can be jealous.”
The barrister said: “You were very jealous and accusatory of Ms Heard, suggesting that she was having, or continuing, her affair with Tasya van Ree – it became an obsession of yours that night.”
Mr Depp said: “I remember we had several arguments about Ms van Ree, I won’t elaborate.”
He later denied allegations put to him by Ms Wass that he tried to remove the painting and to set fire to it, saying each time they were “not true”.
Ms Wass also asked about an incident in which Ms Heard’s dog “had eaten some hash, some cannabis – quite a lot”.
Mr Depp said: “The puppy got a hold of a little ball of hashish and just scooped it up before I could get to it.”
The actor’s case against NGN and Mr Wootton arises out of the publication of an article on The Sun’s website on April 27 2018 with the headline “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”.
NGN is defending the article as true and says Mr Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” between early 2013 and May 2016, when the couple split.
In a written outline of Mr Depp’s case, his barrister David Sherborne said the article made “defamatory allegations of the utmost seriousness”, accusing him of committing serious assaults on Ms Heard and “inflicting such serious injuries that she feared for her life”.
Mr Sherborne said: “The articles amount to a full-scale attack on the claimant as a ‘wife beater’, guilty of the most horrendous physical abuse.
“The claimant’s position is clear – Ms Heard’s allegations are complete lies.”
A separate libel claim brought by Mr Depp against Ms Heard in the US, over a December 2018 column in the Washington Post – which said the actress received “the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out”, but did not mention Mr Depp by name – is due to begin in January.
The pair met in 2011 and began living together in 2012 before marrying in Los Angeles in February 2015.