Aquaman actress Amber Heard choked back tears on Wednesday (May 4) as she told a Virginia jury that her ex-husband Johnny Depp slapped her when she laughed at the writing on one of his tattoos.
Heard took the witness stand for the first time in a US defamation case brought by Depp, saying the actors had a "magical" relationship until it turned violent.
Depp's first physical outburst, Heard said, came after she asked what was written on one of his faded tattoos. She said he replied "wino", and she laughed, thinking it was a joke.
"He slapped me across the face," Heard said. "I didn't know what was going on. I just stared at him."
Heard said he slapped her twice more and said "you think it's funny, b***h?"
Depp, 58, testified earlier in the trial that he never hit Heard and that she was the one who was the abuser in their relationship.
The star of the Pirates Of The Caribbean films and others is suing Heard, 36, for US$50mil saying she defamed him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse. Heard has counter-sued for US$100mil, saying Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.
The case hinges on a December 2018 opinion piece she authored in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear Heard was referencing him. The couple's divorce was finalised in 2017 after less than two years of marriage.
Depp, once among the biggest stars in Hollywood, said he never struck Heard or any woman and that Heard's allegations cost him "everything". A new Pirates movie was put on hold, and Depp was replaced in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, a Harry Potter spinoff.
Heard's attorneys have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected free speech under the US Constitution's First Amendment.
A state court judge in Virginia's Fairfax County, outside the nation's capital, is overseeing the trial, which is expected to last until late May.
Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against The Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a "wife beater". A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.
Depp's lawyers have said they filed the US case in Fairfax County because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant. – Reuters