Amber Heard, IO Tillett Wright, Johnny Depp

Karwai Tang/WireImage, Instagram

iO Tillet Wright knows Johnny Depp and Amber Heard better than most.

The 31-year-old gay rights activist, author of Extracted from Darling Days: A Memoir and co-host of MTV's Suspect lived with the actors for a year before they were married. Wright had traveled to New York City to confront and ex and was feeling suicidal before Depp and Heard stepped in to help. "They said when I left, 'You shouldn't go to New York. If you want to come back, you pull the ripcord, we'll have you here faster than you can say our names. I called them and was, like, 'Ripcord, ripcord, ripcord,' and they got me on a plane. They saved my life," Wright told The Times of London's Sunday Times, published Sept. 11. "One hundred percent."

At Depp's insistence, he joined a 12-step program for the abused friends and family of addicts. Wright attended meetings "every day for six months just to understand my own psychology."

Wright eventually moved out. But in May, the writer was named in Heard's abuse claim against her then-husband. According to court papers filed by Heard, Depp forced the actress to call Wright during am argument. While on the call, Heard claimed Depp "ripped the cell phone from my hand and began screaming profanities and insults at iO. I heard iO yell at me to get out of the house. Johnny then grabbed the cell phone, wound up his arm like a baseball pitcher and threw the cell phone at me striking my cheek and eye with great force. I immediately covered my face and was crying because of the pain resulting from the phone hitting me. Johnny charged at me, insisting on seeing my face. He taunted me, challenged whether or not the cell phone actually hit me. He then forcibly pulled back my hair as I attempted to stand up from the sofa. I then yelled out 'Call 911' hoping it would be heard by iO who was still on the phone. Johnny continued screaming at me, pulling my hair, striking me and violently grabbing my face."

Wright later wrote a blog for Refinery 29 titled "Why I Called 911," which offered more details about what allegedly transpired between the actors. "That situation was so public. I'm not ever going to be one of them. I'm not ever going to be an A-list celebrity," Wright said. "But I chose to get involved in that situation because it was imperative to say what I thought was right."

While he once felt as if he and Depp were "like brothers," they are no longer in contact with each other. Wright said he still speaks with Heard regularly, calling her "one of my best friends."

Wright stopped talking to Depp because he feels the 53-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean actor has been unapologetic about his behavior, both publicly and privately. "It's a tough thing. My attitude about that is the same as the attitude I have about my parents. People are very rarely bad people. People have things that happen to them and people have pain they are trying to get around," Wright told Sunday Times. "Everyone is trying to dance with their pain and sometimes it's who do you stab in the process? It's what you do about having stabbed them that's the delineation between people you can have in you life and people you can't."

In the divorce proceedings, Heard alleged that she experienced physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Depp during their 15-month marriage; Depp repeatedly denied any and all allegations of abuse. The couple reached an out of court divorce settlement in August and released a joint statement soon after. "Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love," the Rum Diaries co-stars said. "Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm."

Heard was given $7 million in the divorce settlement. The actress donated the money to Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), with a focus on stopping domestic violence against women. Wright said he feels the amount was about a sixth of what Hard could have been awarded. "And she paid all her own legal fees," he added.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share