'Jealous, controlling, drunk' Johnny Depp's ship was already sinking

Jurors hear from actor's former girlfriend Ellen Barkin, old friend and managers

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Johnny Depp’s former talent agent, who helped the actor to secure his role in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, testified on Thursday that his ship was sinking well before his former wife filed a domestic violence restraining order against him.

Tracey Jacobs, who represented Depp for 30 years, said her client was once “the biggest star in the world”, but that many incidents of "unprofessional behaviour” began to tarnish his reputation.

Ms Jacobs said Depp was “extraordinarily talented”, but his drug and alcohol use helped to contribute to the downward spiral of his career.

“Initially crews loved him because he was always so great with them, but crews don't love sitting around for hours and hours … waiting for the star of the movie to show up,” she said.

“And it also got around town. I mean, people talk, it's a small community and it made people reluctant to use him towards the end.”

Depp's former wife Amber Heard previously testified that on several occasions, Depp was “carried home like a baby” by his staff from a London set and that sometimes he would not report to work at all.

“As an actor, I didn’t know you could do that,” Heard said.

Depp is suing his former wife for $50 million, claiming that her accusations of domestic abuse in a Washington Post opinion piece libelled him and caused him to lose work.

Heard never named Depp and is suing Depp for $100m.

Ms Jacobs, said she warned Depp that his unprofessionalism was damaging his career.

“I was very honest with him and said 'you've got to stop doing this. This is hurting you', and it did,” she said.

In the first week of the trial, which is now on day 19, Depp's lawyers called “experts” to the stand who testified that the actor lost millions because of the domestic abuse accusations, including a $22.5m payday for a sixth instalment of Pirates.

When asked if anyone at Disney ever committed to casting Depp in Pirates Six, Ms Jacobs answered flatly, “No.”

Depp, during his four days on the witness stand, denied ever striking Heard and claimed that she was the one who was frequently violent.

He accused her of severing his finger while filming the fifth instalment of the Pirates franchise.

Ms Jacobs testified that she secured a $25m pay check for Depp on Pirates 5, with a percentage of the gross. The last deal she secured was for four consecutive weeks of filming on Murder on the Orient Express.

Depp’s payday, “$5m for four consecutive weeks, plus a great back end, which he has received significant money on subsequently”, she said.

Ms Jacobs also said that Depp romanticised drug culture, had fundamental problems controlling his anger, which worsened over time, and that he lacked patience when his perceived needs were not met.

Johnny Depp, pictured with Marilyn Manson, had no intention of being sober, a former bandmate said. AFP

Ms Jacobs said that In January 2016, Depp came to the agency and asked for $20m.

"The question was not asked as a loan," she said.

She said her partners told Depp the company was "not a bank", although they did manage to secure him a loan.

Depp's former business manager Josh Mandel said that in 2015, Depp was spending $300,000 a month on full-time staff at one point, and another $100,000 a month on a doctor and nurses employed to ensure his sobriety.

Any conversations about curbing his spending were ignored, Mr Mandel said.

Mr Mandel, who in 2015 Depp fired and then sued, estimated that the actor made about $600m in the decades that he represented him.

"It became clear over time that there were issues with alcohol and drugs," he said. "And that translated into more erratic behaviour."

Anger management

Actress Ellen Barkin said in recorded testimony that Depp was controlling and frequently drunk, and once threw a wine bottle in his hotel room in Las Vegas, Nevada, while filming Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Barkin said she had a brief "sexual relationship" with Depp in the 1990s and in those several months he was "drunk a lot of the time" and "a jealous man, controlling".

"I had a scratch on my back once that got him very, very angry because he insisted it came from me having sex with a person who wasn't him," she said.

Actor Ellen Barkin testified that Depp was 'frequently drunk and controlling'. Getty

Bruce Witkin, Depp’s friend and bandmate for 40 years, also delivered testimony about the star’s problems with addiction and jealousy. Depp’s first wife, make-up artist Lori Allison Depp, is Witkin's sister-in-law.

He said a mutual friend had once contacted him with “concern” over Depp’s drug use and drinking.

“I was surprised they asked me,” Witkin said.

While visiting him on the set of the Lone Ranger in New Mexico, Witkin said Depp was trying to get sober.

“He seemed really kind of focused and wasn't drinking,” Witkin said – but it was short-lived.

“He didn’t believe in getting sober, it just wasn’t his cup of tea … If he was going to do it, he was going to do it his own way,” he said.

For Depp, that meant rationalising his drinking and “smoking weed”, Witkin said.

He said Depp had a tendency to be insecure about other men.

“He was jealous of Nicolas Cage and Adam Ant because my sister-in-law was friends with him,” Witkin said.

Earlier in the trial, Heard testified that Depp would often accuse her of having affairs with co-stars such as James Franco and Billy Bob Thornton.

“Johnny hated, hated, hated James Franco,” Heard said of her Adderall Diaries co-star.

Depp and Heard met in 2009 on the set of The Rum Diary and were married in February 2015. Their divorce was finalised two years later.

Judge Penney Azcarate has scheduled closing arguments in the case for May 27, after which it will go to the jury.

Updated: May 20, 2022, 4:52 AM
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