Johnny Depp’s multi-million-dollar defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard is due to begin at a court in Virginia after a Virginia judge granted the actor the right to pursue his lawsuit back in August.
Per The Guardian, the former couple is expected to give evidence in person at the trial, and high-profile figures including James Franco, Paul Bettany and Elon Musk are scheduled to give testimony.
The 58-year-old actor is suing Heard over a December 2018 Washington Post op-ed where she wrote about surviving domestic violence, not naming Depp by name. However, she did accuse him of domestic violence amid their 2016 split, which he denied. Heard wrote at the time, “I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
Depp said the accusations have made it difficult for him to get the sorts of roles he once did, so he is seeking $50 million in damages. The actor’s lawyers say the article falsely implies Heard, 35, was physically and sexually abused by Depp when they were married.
Heard’s lawyers are expected to argue she should be immune from the libel suit because of a Virginia law known as an anti-Slapp provision (strategic lawsuit against public participation). The provision is designed to protect people from nuisance lawsuits when they speak about matters of public concern. Depp’s lawyers say one of the reasons they brought the case in Virginia is because the state’s anti-Slapp law is not as broad as the one in California.
Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, has argued the article addresses a very serious issue of public concern: domestic violence. The Aquaman actress has also filed a counterclaim for defamation against Depp because of statements his lawyer made about her.
Another reason that the case is being brought in Virginia, rather than in California where the actors reside, is because the Washington Post’s online editions are published through servers located in Fairfax County.