Actor Johnny Depp has concluded his testimony during the defamation lawsuit he launched against ex-wife Amber Heard following the 2018 publication of an op-ed she wrote in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.
While the piece does not name Depp directly, his legal team have argued that it has a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”.
Depp has been giving evidence in person at the trial in Fairfax County, Virginia, during which text messages between himself and a number of people, including fellow actor Paul Bettany, have been the subject of interrogation.
This is everything you need to know.
Who is Paul Bettany?
Bettany is an English actor who is probably best known for his role as Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing as the character in a number of the films within the franchise, such as Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
His character and Wanda Maximoff (a.k.a Scarlet Witch), played by Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Ingrid Goes West) also starred in their own spinoff series on Disney+ called WandaVision.
When Bettany was 16, his brother, Matthew, died at the age of eight after a tragic fall.
Speaking to the Independent in 2021, Bettany said: “It exploded our family. I had a real psychological break there.”
Shortly afterwards, Bettany dropped out of school and became a street performer who, on occasion, would sleep on park benches, but would often crash on the floor of his sister’s boarding house.
He said: “At the time I never would have described myself as homeless, but since working with homeless charities, they’ve wanted to call me that. How do I clarify this? I was without a home but I never felt homeless.”
In 1990, at 19, Bettany enrolled at the Drama Centre London and made his stage debut as Eric Birling in the West End revival of An Inspector Calls at the Aldwych Theatre. He then appeared in a BBC production at 21 playing Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist.
From there, Bettany has continued to star in a huge number of projects, with one of his most recent roles being in the miniseries A Very British Scandal opposite Claire Foy (The Crown, Wolf Hall).
Other films and TV shows you may recognise Bettany from include A Knight’s Tale, A Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, The Da Vinci Code, Legend, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Inkheart, What If, Manhunt: Unabomber and David Copperfield.
Bettany is married to Jennifer Connelly (Requiem for a Dream, Snowpiercer) after meeting one another on the set of the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind.
They married in 2003 in Scotland and have two children together, a son born in 2003 and a daughter born in 2011. Bettany is also stepfather to Connelly’s son from her previous relationship with photographer David Dugan.
How is he involved in the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial?
Bettany has become involved with the ongoing Depp and Heard defamation trial due to his friendship with Depp, and specifically because of text messages the two exchanged regarding Heard, who was Depp’s girlfriend at the time.
He and Depp have starred in a number of projects together, starting with The Tourist in 2010, then in 2014 in Transcendence and again in 2015 film Mortdecai.
The text messages were initially used as evidence during the 2020 defamation trial that Depp launched against the Sun and have once again been brought up in the current case between Depp and Heard.
In 2016, when a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge granted Heard a temporary restraining order against Depp after she alleged that he had been violent towards her during their marriage, a number of stars came out in support of Depp, including Bettany.
At the time, Bettany tweeted: “Known Johnny Depp for years and through several relationships. He’s the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man that I’ve ever known. Just saying.”
He followed up with another tweet which said: “All I’m saying - Domestic violence is a serious allegation. Trial by Twitter is unhelpful. Let the facts come out before rushing to judgement.”
What did his texts with Johnny Depp say?
During the trial, the court was shown a number of messages that Depp had sent to friends and to his ex-wife. In one text, Depp referred to Heard as a “slippery whore”.
One exchange from 2013 between Depp and Bettany said:
Depp: “Let’s burn Amber!!!”
Bettany: “Having thought it through I don’t think we should burn Amber - she’s delightful company and easy on the eye, plus I’m not sure she’s a witch. We could of course try the English course of action in these predicaments - we do a drowning test. Thoughts? N. B I have a pool.”
Depp: “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will f**k her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she is dead…”
Bettany: “My thoughts entirely! Let’s be CERTAIN before we pronounce her a witch.”
What did Johnny Depp say about the texts?
Depp told the court that he and Bettany had connected over their shared “abstract sense of humour” to deal with difficult situations, and the text exchanges were never “intended to be real”.
Depp said: “As these are private texts there was a lot… in context.
“It’s important to know none of that was ever intended to be real and the language used which… yes, I am ashamed [of] has to be spread on the world like peanut butter.
“For example, the text about burning Ms Heard is directly from Monty Python and the sketch about burning witches and then drowning the witches.
“This is a film we’d all watch when we were 10 - it’s just irreverent and abstract humour.”
Depp added that Bettany and Heard had an “abominable” relationship as she viewed him and his friendship with Depp as a “threat” that would “take me away from her”.
In a statement given to NBC, a representative for Depp echoed the actor’s sentiments about the texts referencing a Monty Python scene, “which Johnny has already testified is one of his favourite movies”.
The representative added that Depp and Bettany “bonded over the film and often made references to the movie in text exchanges”.
What has Paul Bettany said about the texts?
In an interview with the Times earlier this year, Bettany said that it was “embarrassing” to have his texts with Depp combed through by lawyers.
He said: “We live in a world without context. I didn’t know Johnny when he was married to Amber. I knew him before. But we hadn’t spoken for years. During the marriage I didn’t know them. So I wasn’t around for any of that.”
Bettany described the court case as a “very surreal moment”, and one that he’s not keen on discussing.
He said: “Because I know how this works. Anything that you say is oxygen for a fire. And there’s just no f**king fire.
“The only real way to deal with this elegantly is to say: I’m not sure there’s anybody who has one of these devices [a smartphone] that would feel comfortable having a team of lawyers scour their private text messages.”