Johnny Depp’s defamation trial victory over Amber Heard came as a shock to some – and his next move has proved even more surprising.
Johnny Depp’s attorneys have hinted that the Hollywood superstar may not collect his $10.4 million ($14.4 million AUD) payout from ex-wife Amber Heard, insisting he is satisfied with his “total win” finally clearing his name.
“We obviously can’t disclose attorney-client communications, but as Mr Depp tested … this was never about money for Mr Depp,” one of the star’s attorneys, Ben Chew, told Good Morning America (GMA) when asked about Heard’s fear of being left impoverished.
“This was about restoring his reputation – and he’s done that,” Mr Chew said carefully.
“It was a total win for Johnny,” he said.
In a separate live interview on America’s Today show on Wednesday, Mr Chew also dismissed the likelihood of the actress ever overturning the decision, the New York Post reported.
“We feel very confident that there are no errors that would justify any kind of successful appeal,” he said.
Fellow attorney Camille Vasquez, the hotshot lawyer who became a celebrity herself and was this week promoted to a partner in her law firm, called it “disappointing” that Heard’s team called the victory a blow for women’s rights and the #MeToo movement.
She said the actress was brought down instead by them “using her words against her”.
“The key to victory was focusing on the facts and the evidence, and Johnny’s opportunity to speak the truth for the first time,” she told GMA, calling it “six years in the making”.
“Every question that was asked was tied to something she had said previously.
“And I think the jury got to see, the world got to see and hear from Miss Heard” about the truth in the couple’s toxic relationship.
“We believe that evidence speaks for itself. … The jury made a unanimous decision based on those facts,” she said.
“We encourage any victims to come forward, domestic violence doesn’t have a gender,” she said of evidence presented showing that Depp had been attacked, too.
The pair both dismissed suggestions that social media had unfairly swayed the seven Virginia jurors. Mr Chew also told Today that it was “absolutely absurd and baseless” to suggest that the overwhelming support Depp received online was part of an orchestrated campaign.
Asked bluntly if the actor’s team had helped encourage the support – or even paid for it – Ms Vasquez said such claims were “categorically false”.
Instead, Depp won over fans, and ultimately the jury, because of his “accountability” in his toxic marriage, Mr Chew told the NBC News show.
“Johnny owned his issues. He was very candid about his alcohol and drug issues. He was candid about some unfortunate texts that he wrote,” the attorney said.
“And I think it was a sharp contrast to Ms Heard who … didn’t take accountability for anything.”
Ms Vasquez said the win left Depp with “just an overwhelming sense of relief”.
“I was speaking with another friend of ours, a mutual friend of Johnny’s and ours, and he said, ‘I haven’t seen Johnny smile like that in six years.’”
Mr Chew also said the actor “was over the moon” at the decision. “The weight of the world is off his shoulders. He’s got his life back,” he said, echoing the star’s own earlier statement.
Ms Vasquez, meanwhile, also mentioned her own unexpected fame from the high-profile trial.
“It’s been surreal, and if I’m being honest, a bit overwhelming,” she told GMA.
“But if I can be an inspiration to young women who want to go to law school and study and work hard, then it was all worth it,” she said.
Depp won his bombshell defamation lawsuit after seven jurors ruled in his favor that a Washington Post op-ed Heard wrote about becoming a “public figure representing domestic abuse” had sullied his reputation and damaged his career.
The actor – who was too busy rocking with guitar legend Jeff Beck to be in court to hear he had won his case – had said immediately after the victory that being able to speak his truth had left him “at peace”.
“False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me … And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled,” he said at the time.
Heard’s team, however, had already expressed disdain at the attorneys’ planned media blitz this week even before what they said was aired.
“It is as unseemly as it is unprofessional that Johnny Depp’s legal team has chosen to do a victory lap for setting back decades of how women can be treated in the courtroom,” Heard’s spokesperson said in a statement
“What’s next? A movie deal and merchandising?”
The attack came even though Heard’s own lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, had already given interviews to some of the same outlets the morning after the loss, blaming it on Depp’s team’s approach to “demonise Amber and suppress the evidence”.
On Wednesday, Mr Chew said his rival’s allegations had been “very disappointing to hear.”
“The evidence came in that should come in and the judge was very fair to both sides,” he insisted.
Heard’s team also lashed out at her ex-husband for taking to TikTok and crowing about the widespread support he has received.
“As Johnny Depp says he’s ‘moving forward,’ women’s rights are moving backward,” a spokesperson for Heard said in a statement.
“The verdict’s message to victims of domestic violence is … be afraid to stand up and speak out.”
The Washington Post has since added a detailed editor’s note to Heard’s op-ed to highlight how it was ruled defamatory.
This story was originally published by the New York Post and has been reproduced here with permission.