The same day Johnny Depp and former wife Amber Heard both took the Hall H stage at Comic-Con 2018 in San Diego barely an hour apart to promote their respective new movie projects, a story emerged claiming that the exes' contentious 2016 split is still haunting the actor.
According to a July 21 report from Britain's The Mail on Sunday, the reason Johnny has been looking so thin and gaunt lately — his emaciated appearance made headlines last month as he toured Europe with his band, the Hollywood Vampires — has everything to do with the continued fallout of Amber's accusations that he physically and verbally abused her during their brief marriage.
Johnny, The Mail on Sunday reports, has told friends, "I'm not sick. I'm not battling anything, other than the smears that I'm determined to prove are false."
Though the "Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald" actor and the "Aquaman" actress settled their divorce nearly two years ago, Amber's claims that Johnny hurt her — and his claims that he didn't — are at the center of a new lawsuit he is pursuing.
"Johnny is sick of being painted as a wife-beater. It has been the unravelling of him. It really hit him very hard and he almost had to find time to heal," a source told The Mail on Sunday. "He has been through hell and back with all the shocking things said about him. But it is the sense of betrayal that has hurt him the most. He has been let down by people he trusted. He wants people to know that he has been unfairly sullied."
In hopes of clearing his name, The Mail on Sunday reports, Johnny is pursuing a High Court case in London against the Sun newspaper. In June it was revealed he's suing for libel — the actor's legal team is seeking more than $275,000 in damages and legal fees — after the publication branded him a wife-beater in an April 2018 story and criticized "Harry Potter" book series author and "Fantastic Beasts" screenwriter J.K. Rowling for supporting his casting in her latest film.
The Mail on Sunday reports that it has seen court papers filed in the case in which Johnny's lawyers deny Amber's domestic violence claims, specifically that he struck her with a phone, pulled her hair and assaulted her in May 2016 shortly before their split.
Included in the court papers are depositions from two Los Angeles Police Department officers as well as two security guards that Johnny brought with him to his and Amber's downtown L.A. apartment that fateful day, which his lawyers claim contradict Amber's story.
According to the documents, the LAPD officers said they "arrived at the couple's home 25 minutes after the alleged attack, yet saw no damage to the property, adding that a crying Ms. Heard told them she wasn't hurt and did not need medical attention. Nor did they see injuries or swellings on her face," The Mail on Sunday writes.
Johnny's security officers said the actor brought them along that day because he "was concerned" about what his wife might do. They claim the actor didn't physically hurt her.
One guard told lawyers he rushed inside when he heard Amber shouting, The Mail on Sunday reports, and "Immediately upon opening the door, the security guards observed [Depp] standing in the kitchen areas, far away from Ms. Heard. At that moment, Ms. Heard yelled, 'Stop hitting me, Johnny,' into the phone. The claimant was not hitting Ms. Heard. Ms Heard was standing in front of the sofa about 25 feet away."
Johnny's lawyers claim that Amber then used the past tense while speaking on the phone, saying, "He hit me with a phone" and "That's the last time you hit me, Johnny," and screamed for her friend to call the cops.
Amber's version of events are very different: She has said that he threw a phone at her head, winding up his arm "like a baseball pitcher" before striking her cheek and eye. Photos of her bruised face later emerged in California court filings.
The Sun intends to defend itself against Johnny's lawsuit, The Mail on Sunday reports, insisting that it can back up its reporting with overwhelming evidence.
When Johnny and Amber settled their divorce, they issued a carefully worded statement. "Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm. Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future."
Earlier in July, Johnny's Hollywood Vampires bandmate Tommy Henriksen revealed that the actor had changed an Amber-inspired tattoo for a second time. Johnny initially got the word "SLIM" — a nickname for his former love — tattooed across his knuckles. After the duo's toxic split, he changed the tattoo to read "SCUM." This summer, the actor again changed it, this time to read "SCAM." The "A" is in the form of the anarchy symbol.
It's unclear when the U.K. libel case will go to trial.