Johnny Depp says ex-wife Heard beat him, cost him 'everything'

April 20 (Reuters) - Actor Johnny Depp, testifying in a defamation case against his former wife Amber Heard, said on Wednesday that she was the one who became violent in their relationshipand that her false accusations cost him "nothing less than everything."

In a second day on the witness stand in a Virginia courtroom, Depp said the couple had frequent arguments that included "demeaning name calling" and "bullying" by Heard.

"It seemed like pure hatred for me," Depp said. "If I stayed to argue, eventually, I was sure it was going to escalate into violence, and oftentimes it did."

"The Pirates of the Caribbean" star, 58, is suing Heard, 35, for $50 million after she accused him of abuse.

Depp said it was Heard who would "strike out" with a slap or shove. During one argument, Heard threw a vodka bottle at Depp's hand, cutting off the top of his right middle finger and exposing bone, he said.

The actor said he felt like he was suffering some kind of breakdown and began writing on the wall with blood from the injury. He said he wrote reminders of "lies" Heard had told him.

"She has a need for violence. It erupts out of nowhere," said Depp.

In a similar legal case in Britain, Heard denied throwing a bottle and severing Depp's finger. She said she threw things only to escape when he was beating her, and once punched him because she feared he would push her sister down a flight of stairs.

On Wednesday, Depp described an incident in which he said Heard repeatedly punched him. The actor said he put his arms around her to calm her, and their foreheads touched.

According to Depp, Heard accused him of "head butting" her and breaking her nose, returning minutes later with a tissue she said was stained with blood. Depp said he later retrieved the tissue and found the red stain came from nail polish.

The actor said he would remove himself from heated arguments, sometimes locking himself in a bedroom or bathroom, and never struck Heard. "My main goal was to retreat," he said.

Depp has accused Heard, also an actor, of defaming him when she penned a December 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse.

The article never mentioned Depp by name, but Depp lawyer Benjamin Chew told jurors it was clear Heard was referencing the Hollywood leading man. read more

Depp said Heard's allegations cost him "nothing less than everything." A new "Pirates" movie was put on hold, and Depp was dropped from the "Fantastic Beasts" film franchise, a "Harry Potter" spinoff.

"When the allegations were made, were rapidly circling the globe, telling people I was a drunken, cocaine-fueled menace who beat women - suddenly in my 50s - it's over," he said.

"I lost then," he added. "No matter the outcome of this trial, I will carry this for the rest of my days."

Attorneys for Heard, who just started their cross-examination of Depp late on Wednesday, have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected free speech under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. In opening arguments, Heard's attorneys said Depp physically and sexually assaulted her while abusing drugs and alcohol.

A state court judge in Fairfax County, Virginia, is overseeing the trial, which is in its second week and is expected to last six weeks.

Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against The Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a "wife beater." A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.

Depp's lawyers have said they filed the U.S. case in Fairfax County, outside the nation's capital, because the Washington Post is printed at a facility there. The Washington Post is not a defendant in the case.

Depp and Heard, known for her roles in "Aquaman" and "Justice League," were married for roughly two years. Their divorce was finalized in 2017.

Heard has brought her own libel claim against Depp, saying he smeared her by calling her a liar. Heard's counterclaim, seeking $100 million, will be decided as part of the trial.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Tyler Clifford in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Will Dunham

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