Johnny Depp testified Monday that he wanted to keep making “Pirates of the Caribbean” films because he wanted to give a “proper goodbye” to Jack Sparrow and the other characters in the franchise.
Depp took the stand for the fourth day in a courtroom in Fairfax, Va., where his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard is ongoing. Depp alleges that he was dropped from the “Pirates” franchise after Heard wrote a December 2018 op-ed in which she alluded to allegations of domestic abuse. He denies those allegations and is seeking $50 million in damages.
On cross-examination last week, Heard’s attorney Ben Rottenborn asked whether Depp had in fact been fired before the op-ed ran, which would undercut Depp’s case. He also asked about statements Depp had made suggesting he was unhappy with the series and would not want to play Jack Sparrow again.
On redirect examination on Monday, Depp’s attorney Jessica Meyers sought to establish that Depp was still interested in making the sixth installment in the franchise in late 2018.
“My feeling was that these characters should be able to have their proper goodbye,” Depp testified. “There’s a way to end a franchise like that… I planned on continuing until it was time to stop.”
The fifth “Pirates” film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” was released in 2017. Depp said he was subsequently approached by the creative team to take part in writing the screenplay for the sixth “Pirates” movie. Depp has testified that the project is now in “dangle mode.”
During cross-examination, Rottenborn asked about an October 2018 report in the Daily Mail — two months before the op-ed — which indicated he had been fired as Jack Sparrow due to “financial issues and personal dramas.”
“I wasn’t aware of that, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Depp testified. “Two years had gone by of constant worldwide talk about me being this wife beater. So I’m sure that Disney was trying to cut ties to be safe.”
On redirect, Depp said that he actually learned he was going to be recast a couple of days after the op-ed was published, from a news article quoting a Disney executive.
“I didn’t quite understand how after that long relationship, and quite a successful relationship certainly for Disney, that suddenly I was guilty until proven innocent,” he testified.
Depp has since claimed that he would refuse to do another “Pirates” film even if Disney paid him “$300 million and a million alpacas.” On redirect, Depp emphasized that the comment was made well after he had been fired.
Depp was also asked last week about a text he sent to his assistant in March 2015, during the filming of the fifth “Pirates” film, in which he complained about his work on the franchise and suggested that he no longer wanted to work on it.
“Honestly I will not again be doing anything that involves this discussion of furthering my embarrassment of having whored for all these fucking wasted piece of shit nothing years on characters that I so ignorantly started to think of as my legacy,” he wrote at the time. “Every c—ing fight!!! Every fucking time!!! I held my ugliness and rage deeper down and get in check when there was still room in my head to do such a thing!!!!”
Depp testified that he was venting his anger at the time because the script was “not up to snuff.”
“My anger is that the screenplay was very lazily written and I had to rewrite it,” he said.
Depp has testified about the pride he took in creating the Jack Sparrow character, noting that it deviated significantly from the character in the original script.
“I incorporated my notes into the character and brought that character to life, much to the chagrin of Disney initially,” he testified last week. “I believed in the character wholeheartedly, and initially, the Disney folks were somewhat upset.”
Depp has denied Heard’s abuse claims, alleging that she was the one who instigated fights and he would typically flee to avoid a physical confrontation.
Rottenborn’s cross-examination focused largely on text messages and video and audio recordings, which included verbal abuse and references to physical fights. In one of the clips played for jurors on Monday, Heard said she had dumped Depp “after you beat the shit out of me.”
In another audio clip, Heard told him to “put your cigarettes out on someone else,” and he responded, “Shut up, fat ass.”
On redirect, Depp’s lawyer asked him to provide context for violent and disturbing messages which were shown to the jury last week. In one of them, he wrote to actor Paul Bettany that he wanted to “drown” and “burn” Heard, and said he would “fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”
He said that he and Bettany were making a reference to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
“The text that is about burning Ms. Heard is directly from ‘Monty Python,’ and the sketch about drowning witches,” he said. “It was irreverent and abstract humor.”
Depp’s testimony is expected to conclude Monday afternoon. Heard will take the stand later on in the trial.