To hear actress Ellen Barkin, even in the 1990s when the two were together, Johnny Depp was a controlling, jealous, and angry man.
“Where are you going?” Barkin said Depp would ask her. “Who are you going with? What did you do last night?”
Barkin added, “I once had a scratch on my back that made him very, very angry because he insisted I had sex with a person who wasn’t him.”
Barkin recalled her relationship with Depp during a pre-taped statement played by attorneys for Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard in a Virginia courtroom on Thursday.
Heard’s lawyers are trying to undermine Depp’s defamation lawsuit against her. Depp says a 2018 comment Heard wrote in The Washington Post unfairly portrayed him as a domestic abuser and cost him a lucrative Hollywood career, which included the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.
Depp has testified that he never hit Heard and that he was the victim of abuse inflicted on her. But Heard’s lawyers say those denials lack credibility because he frequently drank and used drugs until he passed out.
During Barkin’s testimony, she testified that Depp “always drank or smoked a joint” or used other illegal drugs. She said she dated Depp for about three to five months and described the relationship as sexual rather than romantic.
Barkin co-starred with Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. During filming, Barkin said Depp threw a wine bottle at her while fighting with some friends in a hotel room. However, she said she didn’t know why he threw the bottle.
Heard’s attorneys argue that Depp’s free-fall career was the result of his own bad behavior — not Heard’s comment. They played witness testimonies that traced the actor’s rise and fall from “the biggest movie star alive” to a man struggling with drugs, money and the ability to show up to the movie set on time.
Tracey Jacobs, who served as the actor’s agent for about 30 years, said Depp “arrived too late to consistently shoot on virtually every film” in their final years together.
“I was very honest with him and said, ‘You have to stop this — it hurts you,'” Jacobs said. “And it did.”
Jacobs said Depp was an exceptional talent, but his behavior in the years before he fired her in 2016 became increasingly unprofessional while his drug and alcohol use increased, Jacobs said.
“And word got around town, too,” Jacobs said. “I mean, people talk, it’s a small community. And it made people reluctant to use it.”
Joel Mandel, Depp’s former CEO, testified in a pre-recorded statement that the Pirates of the Caribbean films “propelled him to a whole different level of success.”
“That meant more employees,” Mandel said. “It meant buying additional properties. … It meant a bigger life and a dearer one.”
Things started to change around 2010, and it “became clear over time that there were problems with alcohol and drugs,” Mandel said. “And that led to more erratic behavior, more stressful behavior, and more times when it was difficult to have the kind of conversations I needed to do my job.”
At one point, Depp was spending about $100,000 a month on a doctor and staff to help him sober, Mandel said. At another, he spent $300,000 a month on full-time employees, he said. And he said there were also times when Depp spent thousands of dollars a month on prescription drugs.
“The level of spending had gotten very, very, very large and required maintaining this incredibly high level of income,” Mandel said. “And when it fell off, the separation became untenable.”
Mandel said he was very concerned about Depp’s finances in 2015, but Depp has met those concerns with anger. He said the actor fired him in 2016.
Bruce Witkin, a musician who was friends with Depp for nearly 40 years, testified in a pre-recorded statement that Depp may become jealous in his romantic relationships.
This jealousy showed up in Heard when she was making a movie “or doing something that he couldn’t be around to see what was going on,” Witkin said. “I think he would get upset.”
Witkin said he once saw bruises on Heard’s arm while he and Depp were working on a documentary about Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. And he once spotted Depp with a “fat lip.” But Witkin said he never saw Depp or Heard physically abuse each other.
Witkin said he tried to help Depp with his substance abuse and set him up with a therapist.
“He would say, ‘I’m fine. I’m fine,'” Witkin said, recalling a conversation. “Well, you’re not well.”
Depp’s sister, Christi Dembrowski, has always been concerned for his well-being, both in relation to his substance abuse and in general, Witkin said.
“Everyone, I think, has been deep inside, but … people on the payroll aren’t really going to say much. They’re going to try, but they don’t want to lose their job,” Witkin said. “I’m not saying they all fall into that category. But it’s a weird thing around people like him. Everyone wants something.”
Witkin said his friendship with Depp began to unravel towards the end of 2017, when the actor began to retire.
“He wrote me this weird text saying I stabbed him in the back and bad-mouthed him,” Witkin said. “And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And he wouldn’t explain it. And I haven’t really seen him since 2018.”
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