Barnaby Joyce, Johnny Depp

Getty Images

Perhaps it's time to call off the dogs.

If Barnaby Joyce was ever expecting to receive a sincere apology from Johnny Depp, he's been barking up the wrong tree. It's been 13 months since Amber Heard illegally imported her dogs, Boo and Pistol, into Australia (where her husband was filming Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales)—but the doggy drama continues. On Monday, Depp appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and mocked Joyce's complexion, joking that the ruddy-faced politician looks like he was "inbred with a tomato." The lawmaker addressed Depp's comments in his hometown of Tamworth on Tuesday, saying, "I'm inside his head; I'm pulling little strings and pulling little levers. Long after I've forgotten about Mr. Depp, he's remembering me. I'm turning into his Hannibal Lecter."

From the beginning, Joyce has used Depp's name and fame to bring added attention to the Department of Agriculture's strict biosecurity laws, which are meant keep out canine diseases such as the bacterial infection leptospirosis and rabies. When he first hosted a press conference in May 2015, Joyce told reporters that he had a message for "a gentleman by the name of John Christopher Depp, 51 years old, a.k.a. Jack Sparrow." And because international audiences are more familiar with Depp than Heard, it was he who faced more scrutiny. At the time, Joyce claimed Depp "decided to bring to our nation two dogs without actually getting proper certification and the proper permits required. Basically, it looks like he snuck them in. We found out he snuck them in because we saw him taking them to a poodle groomer." Joyce even threatened to kill Boo and Pistol if Depp failed to comply. "Mr. Depp has to either take his dogs back to California or we are going to have to euthanize them," he said. "He's now got about 50 hours left to remove the dogs."

And so, the "war on terrier" was waged.

Amber Heard

Humberto Carreno/startraksphoto.com

"It's time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States," Joyce argued. "He can put them on the same chartered jet he flew out on to fly them back out of our nation." Joyce seemingly spoke to anyone and everyone about the issue. "There is a process if you want to bring animals: you get the permits, they go into quarantine and then you can have them," he told Australia's ABC radio last spring. "But if we start letting movie stars—even though they've been the Sexiest Man Alive twice—to come into our nation [and break the laws], then why don't we just break the laws for everybody?" The dogs traveled home, but Depp's problems persisted. If the case went to court and he was found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison or a maximum fine of $265,000.

Heard addressed the issue in June during a satellite interview on Australia's Sunrise. "I have a feeling we're going to avoid the land Down Under from now on, just as much as we can, thanks to certain politicians there," the actress said. As for Joyce, she told co-hosts Samantha Armytage and David Koch, "I guess everyone tries to go for their 15 minutes, including some government officials." Regarding her dogs, Heard said, "Pistol's just fine."

Weeks later, it was Heard—not Depp—who was charged with two counts of illegally importing Pistol and Boo into Australia and one count of producing a false document; The Magic Mike XXL actress faced a combined 11 years in prison for all three charges. Heard was also issued a summons to appear in a Queensland court on Sept. 7.

At the time, the prosecutor's office did not disclose why Depp wasn't charged, citing the ongoing nature of the case. "Everything in Australia, we absolutely enforce and make sure people understand, look, a lot of things we're easygoing about, but we're not easy-going about biosecurity. We're deadly serious about it," Joyce told reporters in Perth. "Every person is equivalent before the law. So, Ms. Heard, just like you or I, have the capacity to go to court and present their case." Joyce went on to brag about the international interest in the case against Heard, admitting, "Not that I planned it that way, but you couldn't have bought the advertising that it got for Australia's biosecurity processes. It became the biggest issue in the world for a day. I didn't want that to happen. It did happen."

Johnny Depp, Amber Heard

Matt Roberts/Getty Images

In September, Depp added fuel to the fire during a press conference at the Venice Film Festival. "I killed my dogs and ate them under direct orders from some kind of, I don't know, sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia," he joked. Heard's case was adjourned until Nov. 2, and when Depp appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Sept. 10, he joked about what would happen if she were convicted. "I'd just fly to Australia and assault that man so that I could go to jail," he said.

Depp continued to make jokes as he promoted Black Mass. Meanwhile, Heard's legal team worked on its defense. On Sept. 7, her case was adjourned until Nov. 16—but that hearing was adjourned, too, and rescheduled for Dec. 7. At long last, a judge set a trial date for Apr. 18, 2016. "My decision to defend these charges, as will become apparent in the appropriate forum of the Court, is not intended to in any way diminish the importance of Australia's laws. "I look forward to attending the hearing of these matters," Heard said. "However, as the matters are to be determined by the Court, I will not be making any further statements."

Days later, the Invasive Species Council gave Joyce the Froggatt Award for principled decision-making; it thanked him for "acting quickly and decisively" by forcing Boo and Pistol to leave Australia ASAP. In response, Joyce tweeted, "Humbled to receive it but was just doing my job."

To the surprise of many, Depp, Heard and Joyce stayed relatively quiet about the matter in the months leading up to the trial. When her day in court came, Heard appeared in person and pleaded guilty to falsifying quarantine documents. Two more serious charges of illegally importing the dogs were dropped, and she was slapped with a one-month good behavior bond. Heard and Depp also filmed an apology video, as Magistrate Margaret Callaghan said the Department of Agriculture "will get more deterrence value from the video than any conviction."

After some people compared the footage to a "hostage video," Joyce shared his opinion. "The court determines the punishment of the court, so I'm not going to start being in contempt of court," he said. "What I can say is although I don't think he'll get an Academy Award for his performance, the fact that he did it. He looked like he was auditioning for The Godfather. At the end of it we've got a message that is going all around the world right now, it's going off like a frog in a sock telling people that if you come into this nation and you don't obey our laws, you're in trouble. That's what this is about: It's making sure we keep this nation, protect our flora, our fauna and protect our biosecurity laws. Because it's something, no matter which side of the political fence you're on, in this nation, in our nation we take this seriously." Joyce also told Channel Seven's Sunrise he could have done a better job directing the video, saying Depp should "rise to the camera" in the clip. "As far as me directing this atrocious movie, no, even I could have done a little better than that," he said. "Do it again, Johnny. Do it with gusto, mate."

The actor joked about the awkward apology video during a May 9 press conference for Alice Through the Looking Glass in London. "I would really like to apologize for not smuggling my dogs into England because it would have been a bad thing to do," he said. "Because the Australians, they're chipper." As the room of reporters erupted with laughter, he added, "I tried to kill them after Australia."

On Monday, Depp told Kimmel that he has not watched the now viral video. "I didn't want to kill myself," he joked. The actor also insisted that his comment about Joyce's complexion was not "a criticism," saying, "I was a little worried. He might explode."

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.