Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp denied ever physically abusing Amber Heard as he took the witness stand on Tuesday at the US defamation trial against his former wife.
“There were arguments and things of that nature, but never did I myself reach the point of striking Ms Heard in any way,” Depp told jurors at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia.
“Nor have I ever struck any woman in my life."
Depp said the “heinous and disturbing” allegations of domestic abuse made against him by Heard were “not based in any species of truth” and came as a “complete shock".
Depp was asked by one of his lawyers why he had brought the defamation case against his ex-wife.
“I felt it my responsibility to stand up not only for myself, but stand up for my children,” Depp said. “I wanted to clear my children of this horrid thing that they were having to read about their father, that was untrue.”
“It's strange when one day you're Cinderella, so to speak, and then in 0.6 seconds you're Quasimodo."
He took the stand on the fifth day of the trial.
Depp filed the defamation suit after Heard wrote a column for The Washington Post in December 2018 in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse".
The actress never named Depp, whom she met in 2009 on the set of the film The Rum Diary, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and is seeking $50 million in damages.
Heard, who was married to Depp from 2015 to 2017, counter-sued, asking for $100m and claiming she suffered “rampant physical violence and abuse” at his hands.
Depp accuses Heard of seeking to “generate positive publicity for herself” before the release of the film Aquaman, in which she had a starring role.
He filed the defamation complaint against her in the US after losing a separate libel case in London in November 2020, which he brought against the tabloid The Sun for calling him a “wife-beater".
In opening arguments, Heard's lawyers alleged that Depp became a “monster” during drug and alcohol-fuelled sessions, and that he physically and sexually abused Heard.
Depp's lawyers rejected the allegations as untrue and said they had a “devastating” impact on the actor's Hollywood career.
He left his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and was asked to step down from the Fantastic Beasts series.
In 2016, Heard sought a restraining order against Depp amid abuse allegations. Their divorce was finalised in 2017.