Johnny Depp’s jealousy, substance abuse recounted by friends

The trial for Johnny Depp’s libel suit against ex-wife Amber Heard returned to the themes of Depp’s jealousy and substance abuse Thursday.

Bruce Witkin, a musician who was friends with Depp for nearly 40 years, said the actor’s jealousy in romantic relationships was first on display decades ago.

“He can definitely have a jealous streak in him,” Witkin said during a video deposition recorded in February and played in court Thursday.

Depp demonstrated some of that jealousy during his relationship with Vanessa Paradis, his former partner of 14 years, “and a lot of it was in his head and not reality,” Witkin said.

Depp’s jealousy was also on display when he was with Heard and she was off filming a movie “or doing something that he couldn’t be around to see what was going in,” Witkin said. “I think he would work himself up.”

Witkin said he once saw bruises on Heard’s arm when he and Depp were working on a documentary about Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. And he saw Depp with a “fat lip” one time. But Witkin said he never saw Depp or Heard physically abuse each other.

Depp is suing Heard for libel in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His lawyers say he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name. The trial is now in its fifth week.

Depp says he never struck Heard and that he was the victim of abuse inflicted by her. But Heard’s lawyers argue that Depp physically and sexually abused her. And they argue that the actor’s denials lack credibility because he frequently drank and used drugs to the point of blacking out and failing to remember anything he did.

Witkin said he tried to help Depp with his substance abuse and had set him up with a therapist.

“He’d say, ‘I’ll be all right. I’ll be all right.’ And well, you’re not all right,” Witkin said, recalling a conversation.

Depp’s sister, Christi Dembrowski, was always concerned with his well-being, both in terms of his substance abuse and generally, Witkin said.

“Everybody, I think, deep down inside was, but … the people on the payroll won’t really say much. They’ll try but they don’t want to lose their job,” Witkin said. “I’m not saying they all fall into the category. But it’s a strange thing around people like him. Everybody wants something.”

Witkin said his friendship with Depp began to dissolve toward the end of 2017, when the actor started to pull away.

“He wrote me this weird text saying I stabbed him in the back and badmouthed him,” Witkin said. “And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And he wouldn’t explain it. And I pretty much haven’t seen him since 2018.”

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