Lester Cohen/Amanda Edwards/WireImage
Lester Cohen/Amanda Edwards/WireImage
After Amber Heard went public with allegations that Johnny Depp had abused her over the course of their relationship, there was at least the possibility that the story would quiet down between then and their looming June 17 court date.
Of course that didn't happen.
While a legitimate discussion about domestic abuse, victim-shaming and the cult of celebrity was had in some arenas, social media users promptly retreated to their various corners and chose sides from which to cast their stones. That was certainly expected.
Also expected—and what has indeed come to pass—is that the various sides of the now sordid-no-matter-what story are becoming increasingly unrecognizable from each other.
Heard had a visible bruise on her right cheek when she appeared in court on May 27 to secure a temporary restraining order against Depp, her filing having included allegations that he smacked her in the face with her cell phone during a fight at their downtown L.A. penthouse six days beforehand. Police did respond to a call about a domestic incident but left after the reported victim chose not to file a report.
Meanwhile, a source told E! News that Heard was seen both two days and five days after the alleged phone incident with no visible injury to her face. A photo of Heard with her hair covering her right eye and most of her cheek had been posted by Amanda de Cadenet the weekend of the purported fight, but it had been taken down by the time Heard went to court.
After she secured the TRO, paparazzi pics taken of Heard smiling over Memorial Day weekend made the rounds, presented not so subtly that Heard at least looked fine. Also that weekend, Depp's latest movie, the Alice in Wonderland sequel Through the Looking Glass, was busy tanking at the box office while he was in Europe for a string of shows with his band Hollywood Vampires. He too was spotted looking at ease and perfectly "fine" while chatting with a woman at a bar in Stockholm until 2 a.m. after a performance.
"These last few days have been hard. She isn't the bad guy here," a source told us with regard to the photos of Heard. "It is a very emotional time. And those photos where she was seen laughing…she's allowed to laugh and smile, it doesn't mean she's happy or alright, it means there was a moment when she was laughing with her friend."
Noting the overwhelming knee-jerk demonizing of Heard on social media, her attorneys praised her as "a hero" who had taken the "high road" while Depp's team "immediately went to the press and began viciously attacking Amber's character."
"In domestic violence cases, it is not unusual for the perpetrator's playbook to include miscasting the victim as the villain," lawyers Samantha F. Spector and Joseph P. Koenig stated.
In her response to Heard's TRO petition, Depp's divorce attorney, Laura Wasser, had accused the actress of cooking up the abuse story to influence a judge's decision on spousal support. (Heard's request for $50,000 a month, to cover expenses that would match her marital lifestyle, has been denied pending the upcoming hearing.)
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Spike TV
Interestingly enough, it was the day before Heard went to court when his rep issued a statement saying the actor wouldn't be responding "to any of the salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies about his personal life."
Then, as the dig for dirty laundry intensified, came the report that Depp had injured his hand punching a wall during a fight they had while in Australia, where he was filming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales—the journey that also resulted in Heard facing charges for smuggling dogs Pistol (hers) and Boo (his) into the country without going through proper government channels.
The already public battle was raised to a shocking new, tabloid-ready level, however, when People's June 13 issue (released June 1) featured a picture of Heard's bruised face on the cover, in addition to more pics purportedly depicting other injuries inflicted by Depp inside the mag.
The gloves couldn't have been more off as Depp's side of the story quivered in the magazine's wake. But then the mud started to really fly as the archaeological dig picked up speed.
Also on June 1, ETOnline obtained text messages said to be between Heard and Depp's assistant, Stephen Deuters, in which Stephen is seemingly apologizing for his boss' behavior—in May 2014.
Matt Roberts/Getty Images
"He wants to be better now," reads a message supposedly to Heard. "He's been very explicit about that this morning. Feel like we're at a critical juncture." To which she purportedly responded, "Yes, but I don't know how to be around him after what he did to me today. I don't know if I can stay with him."
The exchange goes on.
On June 2, Deuters told TMZ that whatever ET got its hands on was heavily doctored, that he had never witnessed any abuse and that he was willing to testify that he never had a conversation about alleged violence with Heard.
A source told us that Heard's texts were legit, the details at least lining up with information the insider previously understood to be true—but Deuter's portion couldn't be independently confirmed.
Meanwhile, Depp supposedly tussled with his bodyguard at a bar in Denmark (Tina Deleuran, yet another "mystery woman" he was sighted with, told E! News that it was "a very calm, very quiet evening," the actor didn't drink that much and she witnessed no fight) and then was off to Romania with his band. Fans who crossed his path along the way eagerly shared evidence of their sightings on social media.
A source told People that the actor was "an emotional mess" in the wake of his already ugly divorce, but that performing and touring was "good for him. He doesn't want to let his fans down. It's the best distraction."
Back in Los Angeles, Heard wasted no time in suing comedian Doug Stanhope for defamation after he penned an essay, which was published by The Wrap, that outright claimed Heard was blackmailing his buddy Depp with lies about domestic abuse.
Her attorney stated that any damages won would be donated to Chrysalis, a domestic violence shelter in Arizona.
Depp's closest friends do seem to be standing by him, though mostly in far subtler fashion, with his longtime pal Tim Burtonjoining the actor and his band mates in Romania for a tour of the castle fabled to have been inspiration for the home of Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Multiple sources confirmed to us earlier this week that Heard met with famed women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, a veteran of countless domestic violence and assault cases—though there's no indication that Allred is joining Heard's legal team at this time.
The text message issue didn't go away in the meantime, and on Monday People reported that a forensic tech consultant had authenticated the alleged exchange between Heard and Deuter.
"I forensically imaged and examined the device containing Ms. Heard's iPhone backups, and I conclude that the backups are authentic," he stated.
TMZ then dug up a past arrest on Heard's record for alleged domestic violence against her then-girlfriend Tasya van Ree. The actress was accused of grabbing van Ree and striking her arm at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Sept. 14, 2009. The prosecutor reportedly opted not to move forward since both women lived in Los Angeles; but either way the statute of limitations to pursue charges has long since expired.
Dario Cantatore/Getty Images
We had heard that Heard was not confiding in Van Ree as far any details regarding her marriage were concerned, though it appears that any bad blood between them caused by heartbreak has dissipated in the years since they split up. Heard was with Depp when she ran into Van Ree at a Stella McCartney event back in January and they were seen smiling and chatting amiably, both agreeing that it was good to see each other.
And count Van Ree among the members of Heard's circle who are coming to her defense as the going continues to be rough for the actress in the public eye.
"In 2009, Amber was wrongfully accused for an incident that was misinterpreted and over-sensationalized by two individuals in a power position," van Ree said in a statement to E! News yesterday.
"I recount hints of misogynistic attitudes toward us which later appeared to be homophobic when they found out we were domestic partners and not just 'friends.' Charges were quickly dropped and she was released moments later. It's disheartening that Amber's integrity and story are being questioned yet again. Amber is a brilliant, honest and beautiful woman and I have the utmost respect for her. We shared 5 wonderful years together and remain close to this day."
Artist and activist iO Tillett Wright, a friend of Heard's who used to be close with Depp as well, tweeted in the actress' defense and then penned an essay for Refinery 29 in which she acknowledged not wanting to believe the accusations at first either.
"I knew [Depp] to be soft and gentle, with a temper and a dark side, but a golden heart," Wright, who recalled calling 911 when Heard wouldn't, wrote." I didn't want to believe it either, until I saw the wreckage. When you call someone your brother, you also commit to calling them out when they are wrong. As she, shaking and crying, described this 195-pound man throwing the full weight of his body into head-butting his 120-pound wife in the face in a fit of rage, I found that an unforgivable line in my heart had been crossed."
With the warring parties not even due in court for another week, we can only imagine what's going to be unearthed next from the tattered remains of Depp and Heard's 15-month marriage.
We all know something will transpire—and we all know it's not going to be good.
—Additional reporting by Holly Passalaqua