Johnny Depp and his legal team have asked to move his defamation trial against Amber Heard so it doesn't interfere with filming the latest Fantastic Beasts film.
The actor, 57, is currently seeking damages against his ex-wife for an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post claiming to be a domestic violence victim. According to USA Today, his team submitted new documents on Aug. 21 asking to reschedule the trial, which is set to begin in Fairfax County, Virginia, on Jan. 11, to "sometime between March and June 2021."
Depp's legal team filed the motion after Depp's manager received a letter from Warner Bros.' legal team reminding the actor that he was contractually obligated to report to London for filming "on an exclusive basis commencing in early October 2020 and running through and including the middle of February 2021," USA Today reported. (Depp plays the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spinoff.)
The original court date did not conflict with filming, but the novel coronavirus pandemic created " an untenable situation over which [Depp] has no control," his team said.
"Good cause, therefore, exists to continue the trial date," his team wrote, per the outlet.
Last year, the Pirates of the Caribbean actor filed a $50 million defamation suit against Heard over her Dec. 18, 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
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In response, Heard’s rep said in a statement: “This frivolous action is just the latest of Johnny Depp’s repeated efforts to silence Amber Heard. She will not be silenced. Mr. Depp’s actions prove he is unable to accept the truth of his ongoing abusive behavior. But while he appears hell-bent on achieving self destruction, we will prevail in defeating this groundless lawsuit and ending the continued vile harassment of my client by Mr. Depp and his legal team.”
Depp’s lawyers go on to say that op-ed’s “implication that Mr. Depp is a domestic abuser is categorically and demonstrably false,” and that the allegations were refuted by police officers, a “litany” of neutral witnesses and 87 surveillance camera videos.
Depp, 57, and Heard, 34, met on the set of 2011’s The Rum Diary and were married from February 2015 to May 2016.
The actress filed for a domestic violence restraining order against Depp in May 2016 after she accused him of abusing her. Depp denied the claims, and the former couple settled their divorce out of court in August 2016 for $7 million, which she donated to charity. Both actors signed NDAs barring them from discussing their relationship publicly.
Depp’s lawyers also say that the op-ed negatively affected Depp’s career, claiming that it cost him the role of Jack Sparrow in the ongoing Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. They say it was written to boost Heard’s profile before the premiere of Aquaman three days later.
The lawsuit additionally claims that Heard began a relationship with Tesla founder Elon Musk “no later than one month after” her and Depp wed. Depp claims Heard received “late night” visits from Musk, with his lawyers saying they’ve deposed members from the building’s security team to testify.
He goes on to claim Musk was granted access to his home the same night “she presented her battered face to the public.”
A rep for Musk maintains that “Elon and Amber didn’t start seeing each other until May 2016, and even then it was infrequent. Their relationship didn’t become romantic until some time later.”
Heard and Musk were first publicly linked together in 2016. The two broke up in August 2017 due to their busy schedules but rekindled their romance in January 2018 only to split for a second time a month later.
Depp is suing for compensatory damages following the op-ed, as well as punitive damages for the “willfulness and maliciousness that Ms. Heard demonstrated when she knowingly published the op-ed with the false implication that Mr. Depp violently abused her.”
Depp is also awaiting the verdict of his libel case against the U.K. tabloid The Sun.
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