The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Case: A timeline

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulDec 20, 2022 | 15:10

The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Case: A timeline

It seems the dust has finally settled around the infamous Johnny Depp and Amber Heard multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit, with Heard set to have finally reached a settlement with Depp.

For those miraculously still unfamiliar, or for those who seem to have let this highly sensationalised trial of the year slip away into distant memory, here is a brief recap of events as they happened:



Depp and Heard meet during the filming of The Rum Diary, a film based on the novel by Hunter S Thompson.

Depp and Heard at The Rum Diary premiere. Photo: Getty Images


Depp and Heard begin dating. The same year, Depp and long-term partner Vanessa Paradis ended their 14-year relationship.

Depp and Heard at TIFF. Photo: Getty Images


Depp confirms their engagement in interviews after Heard is spotted wearing a ring.


The couple get married twice; once at their home in Los Angeles and another ceremonial wedding takes place at Depp's private island in the Bahamas.


Heard files for divorce from Depp on May 23, three days after Depp's mother dies. Along with the divorce, Heard asks for a temporary restraining order against Johnny. 

  • On May 27, Heard shows up in court and accuses Johnny of attacking her on May 21.
  • Heard alleges that Johnny threw a cellphone at her during a fight, which struck her in the face, following which he screamed at her, hit her, violently grabbed her face and pulled her hair.
  • Evidence was found that a call was made to law enforcement but no police arrived at the scene.
  • Depp denies the allegations and no charges are pressed.
"During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me. I endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse from Johnny, which has included angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him."
- Amber Heard writes in the court filing


The couple's divorce is finalised.


Heard writes an op-ed for The Washington Post mentioning her experience with abuse from her childhood to adulthood. It does not include Depp's name. Heard asks for support for women experiencing domestic violence.



Depp sues Heard for defamation, claiming the op-ed was a PR stunt. Depp also claims she is not the victim of domestic violence but instead the perpetrator, and seeks $50 million in damages.


A libel trial is held in the United Kingdom over British publication The Sun calling Depp a "wife-beater". Depp sues both executive editor Dan Wootton and The Sun's parent company News Group Newspapers.

  • Depp's ex-partner Paradis defends Depp by submitting a statement saying the actor "is the farthest thing" from a violent person.
  • Depp claims that Heard had affairs with now-Twitter CEO Elon Musk and actor James Franco. He also claims Heard defecated in their bed and was physically violent towards him.
  • Depp loses the case as the court sides with The Sun.

After the ruling, Depp posts a statement on Instagram saying he had been asked to exit the Fantastic Beasts franchise.


Heard counter-sues Depp for $100 million.


The defamation trial kicks off in April, with Heard and Depp appearing in court in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Depp testifies over the course of four days while his lawyers submit evidence of Heard's alleged abuse, while Heard's lawyers highlight Depp's past substance abuse, messages and recordings, claiming Depp perpetrated the violence.

Depp testifies at the trial. Photo: Getty Images

Heard claims Depp oscillated between active addiction and sobriety in her testimony, which she said made it hard to continue their relationship. She alleges that while on a vacation with Depp in 2013, he did a "cavity search" on her while looking for his cocaine, and describes various other instances of abuse.

In May, Depp's team asks Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate to dismiss Heard's countersuit, unsuccessfully.

“I don’t think anyone enjoys having to split themselves open and tell the truth, but there are times when one simply has to because it’s gotten out of control. Horrible. Ridiculous. Humiliating. Ludicrous. Painful. Savage. Unimaginably brutal. Cruel. Um, and all false. All false.”
- Depp says, when asked about what it had been like to listen to Heard’s testimony

Heard returns to the stand before closing arguments claiming she has been bombarded with death threats since the start of the trial.

“Protecting the secret that I did, for as long as I did, has taken enough of my voice. Johnny has taken enough of my voice and the right to tell my story. I have the right to say what happened ... I have the right as an American to talk about what happened to me. To own my story and my truth.”
- Amber Heard following the closing arguments

Following the verdict of the trial in June this year, the Virginia jury reached consensus overwhelmingly in Depp’s favour, ordering Heard to pay $10 million dollars in damages to the actor.

Depp has since appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards, where he surprised the audience by showing up as the Moonman. He also announced a European tour with his band in the summer of 2023 and is set to direct a movie for the first time in a quarter of a century. 

Depp at the MTV Video Music Awards. Photo: Getty Images

In October, Heard filed a brief to appeal the jury's decision. More than 130 people, including Gloria Steinem, and organisations in the field of women’s rights advocacy and domestic violence and sexual assault awareness signed an open letter to support Heard.

Heard with her legal counsel. Photo: Getty Images

On December 19, Heard announced in an Instagram post that she has settled the defamation case, effectively ending years of legal battles between her and Depp.

Depp is expected to receive a payment from Heard’s insurers of $1 million, which he has pledged to donate to charity.

Last updated: December 20, 2022 | 15:10
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