Celebrity relationships have always been a focal point of public attention, with entire industries devoted to following and tracking every single aspect of a person’s life. Few have drawn more fervor than the one between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, as their relationship—established Hollywood A-lister falls in love with rapidly ascending ingenue on their movie set—is a tabloid meet-cute staple. It’s a fairytale, until it’s not.
As the relationship progressed, there were whispers of darkness creeping in around the edges; allegations of abuse emerged, with startling reports of violent rages and physical abuse, later backed by photo and video evidence.
After a few years of silence, the Pirates of the Caribbean and Aquaman stars are once again back in the spotlight as more information comes out about the turmoil surrounding the relationship. Depp is currently suing British tabloid The Sun, and testimony is unearthing all kinds of new information at an almost daily clip about just how chaotic the relationship was. To put everything in perspective, we’ve pieced together a timeline of events charting the meteoric rise and fall of the couple. We’d also like to state that the events of physical abuse described herein might be triggering for some to read. Considering the ongoing court case, there’s likely to be more startling information to come—but here’s we are so far.
Sometime in March 2009: Filming on The Rum Diary begins
Johnny Depp is cast as Paul Kemp in the film adaptation of The Rum Diary. A fiction novel from famed gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, the project and Depp’s casting seem like an attempt to recapture the success of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Depp produces the movie, which is directed by Withnail and I’s Bruce Robinson. Then-rising actress Amber Heard is cast as the love interest, Chenault.
October 28, 2011: The Rum Diary debuts
The movie is released to mediocre reviews and would go on to be a commercial failure, too. Looking for something to do in my college town, I purchase a ticket anyhow and realize very quickly that the one thing that even sort of works about the film is the chemistry between Depp and Heard.
June 19, 2012: Depp and Vanessa Paradis split after 14 years
After 14 years of marriage, Depp and his partner Vanessa Paradis split. The couple states they “amicably separated” and request privacy from the media during this time.
Sometime in 2012: Depp and Heard begin dating
No one can put a hard date as to when Heard and Depp began dating, but an E! report about the couple’s first public appearance (more on this in a second) states they’d been together since 2012. A report from People on June 21, 2012, mentions Heard as one of the women linked to Depp in the wake of the separation—but doesn’t officially confirm them as an item.
January 11, 2014: Depp and Heard make a first public appearance together
E! Online gets hold of a picture of the couple canoodling together at the Art of Elysium’s 7th Annual Heaven Gala, which serves as the de facto declaration that Depp and Heard are officially an item. The 50-year-old Depp and 27-year-old Heard seem smitten, which is why it’s not entirely surprising when...
January 17, 2014: Depp and Heard are engaged
...the two are engaged less than a week later. Heard was spotted by an eagle-eyed photographer leaving the LA restaurant Ago while being very intentional about covering her left hand.
April 7, 2014: Depp shows off his engagement ring
While making an appearance on David Letterman, Depp shows off an engagement ring he’s wearing on his hand stating it was “too big for my girl” before stating he “put it on [cause] she has the other one that fits.”
Sometime in May 2014: Texts from Heard detail assault by Depp
Although they weren’t originally made public by ET Online until June 1, 2016, Heard has a text message conversation initially by a contact known as “Stephen” (presumed to be Stephen Deuters, Depp’s assistant) about Depp’s behavior. In the messages, Heard lays out several instances of physical assault, including a recent attack: “He's done this many times before. Tokyo, the island, London (remember that?!), and I always stay. Always believe he's going to get better...And then every 3 or so month, I'm in the exact same position."
Deuters states Depp “cried” when he was informed he had kicked Heard.
February 3, 2015: Depp and Heard marry
Did you know Johnny Depp ::checks notes:: owns a private island? I didn’t! Found while he was shooting (you guessed it) Pirates of the Caribbean, the Bahamas-based island—called Little Hall’s Pond Cay—served as the location for the wedding of Depp and Heard. The couple took to the Pond Cay for a big celebration after being married on February 3 at their home in Los Angeles.
The ceremony itself looked extraordinarily pretty and picturesque.
March 10, 2015: Depp hurts hand while on location in Australia for Pirates 5 filming during fight with Heard
Did anyone actually see the fifth Pirates movie? Outside of Javier Bardem joining the cast, the movie is largely famous for what happened off-camera. While Depp was on location in Australia for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the actor suffered a hand injury. At the time, the accident was never fully explained, only that he wasn’t filming the movie when he hurt himself and had to return home to the United States for surgery.
It would later come to light the injury was due to the actor “punching a wall” during a fight he was having with Heard. But this wasn’t true at all, rather, Depp cut his finger off in a “fit of rage” by slamming a telephone against the wall and then...dipped the remaining stub in paint to write “Billy Bob” on a mirror. TMZ eventually got a hold of the photo of Depp’s finger as well as the mirror with the message. The Billy Bob message was an accusation on Depp’s part that Heard had cheated on him with her Friday Night Lights and London Fields co-star.
May 14, 2015: Heard gets in legal trouble for bringing dogs into Australia
You may have forgotten about this, but remember when all hell broke loose over Amber Heard bringing her two dogs into Australia? While Heard and Depp were in Australia for the filming of Pirates 5, Heard didn’t declare she had brought her two Yorkshire terriers, Boo and Pistol, along with her. Australia has an extremely strict policy around animal quarantine laws (the dogs should have been declared and then quarantined for a minimum of 10 days) in order to prevent bringing infections into the country. The situation was nothing short of a fracas and, at one point, involved Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce threatening to put the dogs down unless they were exported home.
September 10, 2015: Depp addresses dog issue on Jimmy Kimmel
While appearing on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel, Johnny Depp addressed the situation involving the dogs. “We were under the impression that we had all the paperwork done with the dogs, we were there with the dogs in front of everybody,” the actor stated. Kimmel at one point brings up the topic of Heard possibly having to do jail time and Depp responds by saying he’d fly to Australia and “assault” Minister Barnaby Joyce if that ends up being the result.
December 2015: Heard injured in altercation
Although it wouldn’t become public knowledge until People Magazine published the details in June of 2016, Heard was injured in December as the result of an altercation between her and Depp. The photos, obtained by People, show Heard with a bruise and cut lip. Furthermore, the actress states she “feared for her life” during the incident.
April 17, 2016: Heard pleads guilty in court case, video apology from Heard and Depp publicly released
The international canine incident come to a conclusion in mid-April 2016 as Heard pleads guilty to making a false statement surrounding the dogs. She’s given a slap on the wrist and everyone move on...until the Australian government releases an utterly bizarre apology video from both Heard and Depp. In the video, the two basically appear as if they’re being held hostage while expressing regret over the situation.
The video is wildly parodied and mocked.
April 22, 2016: Heard’s 30th birthday party turns violent—and defecatory
In papers that are eventually made public through court documents and testimony, it’s revealed on the night of Amber Heard’s 30th birthday things went terribly and horrifically awry. Heard reports Depp showed up to the celebration late after receiving news that his accountant had failed to pay his taxes over the course of a 17-year period costing the actor a staggering $650 million.
From there, it’s been reported Depp and Heard began arguing over the fact Depp ruined Heard’s party which led to Depp hurling a magnum of champagne at Heard before grabbing her hair and tossing her to the bed. It’s also been claimed that Heard threw a punch at Depp before—and I cannot make this up—apparently taking a shit in the bed of their apartment.
Heard later stated the fecal matter was from their dogs.
May 20, 2016: Depp’s mother passes away
ET reports Depp’s mother, Betty Sue Palmer, has passed away after a long battle with an unspecified illness. The two reportedly had a very close relationship; Depp had even tattooed her name on his arm.
May 21, 2016: Depp attacks Heard at their LA home
In court documents obtained by ET Online, Heard stated that the day after Palmer’s passing, the two engaged in a “peaceful conversation” before Depp “began obsessing about something that was untrue and his demeanor changed dramatically.” Depp, “inebriated and high” demanded Heard call mutual friend iO Tillet Wright. As Heard spoke with Wright on the phone, Depp apparently then “ripped the cell phone out her hands and began yelling obscenities at Wright.” From there, Heard stated Depp “then grabbed the cell phone, wound up his arm like a baseball pitcher and threw the cell phone at me striking my cheek and eye with great force.” Depp would then “forcibly pull back [her] hair as [she] attempted to stand from the sofa” before eventually “striking [her] and violently grabbing [her] face.”
May 22, 2016: Heard and Depp separate
May 23, 2016: Heard files for divorce
May 25, 2016: Public learns about divorce
Despite separating on May 22 and Heard filing for divorce from Depp on May 23, the public doesn’t learn about the events until May 25. In the statement, Heard cites “irreconcilable differences” and asks Depp to grant her spousal support.
May 27, 2016: Heard is granted restraining order against Depp
Reported exclusively by TMZ, Heard is granted a restraining order against Johnny Depp after she appears in court. During this process, Heard submitted photos, which TMZ obtained, of Heard with a bruise from the May 21 fight. Furthermore, Heard stated that she “live[s] in fear that Johnny will return to the residence unannounced to terrorize me, physically and emotionally” and also outlines details around the aforementioned incident on May 21.
May 28, 2016: Depp’s family comes to his side
In a since-deleted Instagram post, Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose came to the aid of her father stating Depp is the “sweetest most loving person.” Meanwhile, TMZ published statements from ex-partners Vannesa Paradis and Lori Anne Allison defending Depp; Paradis declared Depp “a sensitive, loving and loved person” while Allison stated Depp “never even screamed” during their time together.
June 1, 2016: Previously-mentioned People Magazine cover story released
August 12, 2016: Video of physical altercation between Depp and Heard released
TMZ surfaces an exclusive video that shows Depp kicking and slamming doors to cabinets in their kitchen. Heavily edited—and therefore not allowed as evidence in any court cases—Heard is, well, heard apologizing for an unspecified event. Heard then asks Depp if he’s had wine while trying to calm him down. Depp then threw the bottle and glass before attempting to take the phone away from Amber.
August 15, 2016: TMZ releases aforementioned photo of Depp’s severed fingertip
August 16, 2016: Depp and Heard settle divorce case
TMZ learns Depp and Heard have officially settled their divorce case. In addition to dismissing the case with prejudice (meaning she can’t re-file), Heard also withdrew her restraining order petition as well. As part of the process, Depp agrees to pay Heard a $7 million settlement.
The two issued a joint statement that reads, “Our relationship was instantly passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm. Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future.”
August 18, 2016: Heard donates settlement money
Heard told TMZ she planned to donate the settlement money among two charities, the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. “The donation will be divided equally between the ACLU, with a particular focus to stop violence against women, ad the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where I have worked as a volunteer for the past 10 years,” she said in a statement.
November 18, 2016: Depp appears in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Depp makes a surprise appearance at the end of the first Fantastic Beasts movie in a cameo performance as the legendary villain and dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, a name diehard Harry Potter fans recognized as the precursor to Voldermort and lover of Albus Dumbledore.
December 7, 2017: J.K. Rowling defends Depp in blog post
As production on the second Fantastic Beasts movie is underway, J.K. Rowling defends Depp in a blog post on her site. “When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he’d be wonderful in the role,” she states. “However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise.”
Rowling continued stating, “Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”
Rowling was spurred to publish the post after a photo of the sequel’s cast sparked a new round of debate over Depp’s continued involvement in the series. Harry Potter’s fanbase has always been incredibly vocal about how progressive and meaningful the series has been; considering the allegations against him, Depp’s involvement in the series flew in the face of that progressiveness. Combine that aspect with the timing of the #MeToo reckoning and it’s easy to understand why fans were upset. Plus, Depp’s on-screen time was so short that it could have been extremely easy to re-cast the part entirely. Rowling admitted she and Beasts director David Yates “considered the possibility of recasting,” but ultimately didn’t do it.
April 27, 2018: British tabloid publishes article about Depp
In a column for British tabloid The Sun writer, Dan Wootton goes after Rowling over Depp’s involvement. “For a holier-than-thou Twitterati preacher, JK Rowling tries to present herself as a leading light for women in the entertainment industry,’ Wootton writes.
June 21, 2018: Rolling Stone releases now-infamous Depp profile
“So are you here to hear the truth? It’s full of betrayal.” In what quickly becomes a legendary profile, Rolling Stone publishes Stephen Rodrick’s profile of Depp. In the article, Depp boasts about spending absurd amounts of money on wine (”It’s insulting to say that I spent $30,000 on wine because it was far more”), admits to getting his lines fed to him through an earpiece, reflects on the deaths of his mother and friend Tom Petty, and liberally drinks and smokes weed throughout Rodrick’s time with him.
November 16, 2018: Fantastic Beasts actor Ezra Miller says cast wasn’t informed about Depp’s role
In an interview with Playboy, Fantastic Beasts actor Erza Miller states the whole cast of the Harry Potter prequel series weren’t informed about Depp’s cameo. “No, none of us were consulted. None of us knew.”
December 18, 2018: Heard releases Washington Post op-ed
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Amber Heard writes about her experience with Depp. The actress states she had to change her phone number on a weekly basis to avoid death threats. “For months, I rarely left my apartment, and when I did, I was pursued by camera drones and photographers on foot, on motorcycles and in cars,” she wrote. “Tabloid outlets that posted pictures of me spun them in a negative light. I felt as though I was on trial in the court of public opinion.”
Heard doesn’t ever mention Depp by name, but his presence lingers in the piece nonetheless. “...I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out. Friends and advisers told me I would never again work as an actress — that I would be blacklisted. A movie I was attached to recast my role. I had just shot a two-year campaign as the face of a global fashion brand, and the company dropped me.”
At the end of the piece, she asked Congress to “reauthorize and strengthen” the Violence Against Women Act and also had harsh words for Education Secretary Besty DeVos’ changes to Title IX.
December 20, 2018: Depp dropped from Pirates franchise
A few days later, Disney’s film production chief Sean Bailey seemingly confirms Depp will no longer be involved with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bailey states Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick had been hired to reboot the franchise in an attempt to “bring in a new energy and vitality.” “I love the [Pirates] movies, but part of the reason Paul and Rhett are so interesting is that we want to give it a kick in the pants,” he states.
Rhett and Paul would eventually be replaced by Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin and Pirates veteran Ted Elliot to work on the reboot in October of 2019. Additionally, it would be announced in June of 2020 that Margot Robbie would star in a female-fronted Pirates spin-off. Robbie will be joined by Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson on the project.
March 1, 2019: Depp files defamation lawsuit against the Post
In the wake of Heard’s op-ed, Johnny Depp would eventually file a defamation suit against the Washington Post for the sum of $50 million. Filed in the Circuit Court of Fairfax, Virginia, Depp outlined that while he wasn’t named in the op-ed it was “clear” Heard was talking about him. Furthermore, Depp blamed the piece for costing him his role in the Pirates franchise.
April 10, 2019: Heard fires back, files a motion to dismiss the suit
Naturally, Heard takes action to dismiss the suit. In an incredibly detailed motion that outlined a number of intimate details of their time together, Heard declares that whenever Depp would start using drugs “He would become a totally different person, often delusional and violent. We called that version of Johnny, ‘the Monster.’” She continued, “Johnny often would not remember his delusional and violent conduct after he came out of his drunk or medicated states.”
May 21, 2019: Depp fires back against Heard’s statement, claims she “painted-on bruises”
A little over a month later, Depp decides to take action against Heard’s motion. In a statement, Depp declares he “was the victim” and that Heard had attacked him. “While mixing prescription amphetamines and non-prescription drugs with alcohol, Ms. Heard committed innumerable acts of domestic violence against me, often in the presence of a third-party witness, which in some instances caused me serious bodily harm.”
January 31, 2020: Daily Mail obtains audio of Heard admitting she hit Depp
In audio obtained by The Daily Mail from a "well-placed source," Heard admitted to "hitting" Depp at some point during their relationship. "'I'm sorry that I didn't, uh, uh, hit you across the face in a proper slap, but I was hitting you, it was not punching you. Babe, you're not punched," the recording states. She continued by saying, "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."
Depp also responded in the recording by saying, "I left last night. Honestly, I swear to you because I just couldn't take the idea of more physicality, more physical abuse on each other."
March 27, 2020: Judge grants Depp allowance to pursue Post lawsuit
Despite the back and forth, Depp eventually got his way. In March of this year, a Virginia judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit and will allow Depp to move forward with his defamation claim. Judge Bruce D. White stated the “Plaintiff [Depp] has pleaded circumstances that would reasonably cause three of the four statements at issue to convey the alleged defamatory meaning that Mr. Depp abused Ms. Heard, and this alleged meaning is in fact defamatory.”
July 7, 2020: British libel trial begins
While it’s unclear when the motion was actually filled, Depp and his team sought to bring The Sun to court over Dan Wootton’s April 27, 2018 column. Alleging libel, Depp arrived at the High Court for the case, which had been delayed by the coronavirus.
July 8, 2020: Depp denies slapping Heard over altered “Wino Forever” tattoo, Heard email read, drug photo revealed
Here’s where things start to get, somehow, even nastier than they were before. During his July 8 testimony, Depp denied, several times, slapping Heard during a March 2013 accident in which the actress made fun of his altered “Wino Forever” tattoo.
The tattoo famously once read “Winona Forever” but was altered after he and Winona Ryder split. According to court questioning, Depp was asked about slapping Heard three times after she made a joke out of the tattoo. Depp denied the claims but admitted to having fallen off the wagon after a sober period of roughly 160 days. This incident is one of 14 allegations of domestic violence that has been submitted for the court.
Additionally, the court read an unsent draft email from Heard to Depp wherein the actress wrote about Depp’s struggles with drug use and boozing before addressing more assault accusations. Drafted at some point in June of 2013, Heard asserts that “You [Depp] have hit me repeated” before also stating “I myself watched you pass out cold on the floor, after drinking yourself sick.”
Finally, Heard presented evidence that detailed Depp’s extensive drug habit including four lines of cocaine, booze, and a Johnny Depp-branded pillbox. There’s also another image showing Depp totally passed out on the floor. Naturally, the photos made the rounds on social media.
July 9, 2020: Depp states that Heard is telling “Porky Pies”
As the trial entered its third day, Depp told the British High Court that Heard had been telling “Porky Pies” (British slang for lies). In medical notes from Heard’s private doctor Dr. Connell Cowan, Depp was “threatened by her [Heard’s] career” and a movie the actress did with actor James Franco scared Depp so much that he went on a binge that landed him in the hospital.
Additionally, Depp’s private doctor David Kipper wrote a medical note detailing Depp’s issues with drugs. The note stated Depp “romanticizes the entire drug culture and has no accountability for his behavior.”
When asked why Heard would have told her doctor this, Depp declared that Heard was “telling porky pies with her psychiatrist.”
July 10, 2020: Court addresses Heard’s 30th birthday incident
Depp provided his testimony around the aforementioned April 2016 incident on Heard’s 30th birthday. To recap, the evening turned violent after Heard expressed frustration around Depp’s late arrival to her birthday party that escalated into violence—claims Depp denied on the stand—and a shit in the bed.
Described by the court as the “defecation incident” Depp went on to say the shituation, in particular, felt like a “fitting end” to the relationship.
July 13, 2020: Depp concludes testimony, states he didn’t intend to headbutt Heard
In his final day of testimony, Johnny Depp claimed he didn’t intend to headbutt Heard during a December 2015 incident that was outlined by the aforementioned People Magazine article. Depp’s claim, rather, is that he was trying to “grab her arms” to stop her from attacking him, with the assumption they rather bumped heads.
However, a provided audio recording tells a different story. Depp can be heard on the tape stating, “I headbutted you in the fucking forehead. That doesn’t break a nose.”
July 15, 2020: Depp’s former estate manager details 2015 Australia incident, Heard’s former assistant states Heard felt she was “above the law”
Ben King, Depp’s former estate manager, testified about the circumstance surrounding the March 2015 incident wherein Depp cut off the tip of his finger. Depp states the accident was a result of Heard throwing a bottle of vodka at him, while Heard states it was because he smashed a telephone into a wall.
King was involved in cleaning up the mess after the fact and found the fingertip near the bar area with a trail of blood leading up to the bedroom. King also stated he didn’t “recall a phone having been ripped off the wall, or having to replace a wall telephone.”
Additionally, King noticed upon Heard’s return to LA after being in Australia, that the actress had some fresh cuts on one of her arms and told her that she “maybe should put your sleeve down.”
Meanwhile, Kate James—a former assistant to Heard—testified she believed Heard felt she was “above the law.” “[Heard] did not care about throwing anyone under the bus, if it meant saving her own skin,” James stated.
Furthermore, James declared Heard knowingly smuggled the dogs into Australia — even after Heard had been walked through the process. Apparently Heard “chose to ignore” James and “delicately smuggled the dogs into Australia.”
July 17, 2020: LA Penthouse concierge testifies Elon Musk regularly came to visit Heard
Just when you think the case can’t get any stranger, Eastern Columbia Building concierge Alejandro Romero testified that Tesla founder Elon Musk regularly visited Heard late at night at the couple’s LA penthouse. Apparently Musk was there so frequently that he had his own key fob to make accessing the unit even easier.
In a statement, Romero declared that “From March 2015 onwards, Ms. Heard was visited regularly late at night, at around 11 pm to midnight, by Mr. Elon Musk. For his initial visits, I would receive a call from Ms. Heard who would tell me to give Mr. Musk access to the garage for the building and then send him up to the penthouse.” Romero continued, “After he had made a few visits, Ms. Heard provided Mr. Musk with his own garage remote and a fob to Mr Depp’s penthouse. I believe he visited Ms. Heard a few times a week and he would always visit when Mr. Depp was not at home.”
Additionally, Romero states that a few days after the May 21, 2016 incident he saw Heard and “did not notice any bruises, cuts, swelling, red marks or any other injuries of any kind to Ms. Heard’s face” when he encountered her four days later on May 25, 2016.
July 20, 2020: Heard testifies on Depp’s abuse, accusations of alleged affairs
As the tenth day of hearings started up, Heard herself took the witness stand to give testimony to Depp’s alleged numerous incidents of verbal and physical abuse. According to NBC News, Heard stated that Depp “explicitly threatened to kill me many times” and that she was on the receiving end of “punching, slapping, kicking, head-butting and choking,” during their relationship.
Additionally, Depp accused Heard of cheating on him with a number of co-stars including the previously mentioned Billy-Bob Thornton and James Franco, Eddie Redmayne, Jim Sturgess, Kevin Costner, Liam Hemsworth, Channing Tatum, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Depp apparently had nicknames for some of the stars; DiCaprio was ‘pumpkin-head’, Tatum was ‘potato-head’, and Sturgess was ‘Jim Turd Sturgess’ according to E! Online. I regret to inform you all that these nicknames are rather humorous in their childishness and stupidity.
We will continue to update this as more information comes forward.