In its final week at Fairfax County Court, Virginia, the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial spluttered to a conclusion in a chorus of “objections” and exchanges as hypnotic and intriguing as Heard’s complicated braids. I wonder what I’ll do with the time I’ll gain back when this is over. Will I read a book again? Maybe I’ll talk to my family? Or try and see a film. Will TikTok still serve any purpose when not parsing every micro detail of this trial?
The libel suit (Depp is suing Heard over an op-ed she wrote about being the victim of domestic abuse, in which he was not named) has become the under-counter, water-cooler conversation, in which everyone has got a take. Someone last week described it as “the OJ trial on steroids”: although this one hinges on a severed finger rather than a glove.
And there are so many weird and delightful details. Take for example the little bonbon dish that Depp shares with his attorney Ben Chew? The candy-snacking lawyer makes up one-seventh of Depp’s legal representatives, a band who have put on such a show of chummy camaraderie within the courthouse that I’m half expecting to see them all enshrined on film: Depp and Chew, the bromance — with a supporting turn from Camille Vasquez, a sassy 37-year-old “objection” queen. Were this case based on pure charisma, Chew would win each time. With his elastic Mr Bean demeanour, he’s the lawyer we all deserve.
But it isn’t all high fives and interruptions. Just when you thought we must be through, team Depp pulled out the ace in their back pocket, and called on Kate Moss to testify in court. Heard cited the 48-year-old supermodel, who was engaged to Depp, during her own testimony, thus opening the door for Depp.
Moss cast a strange spell in the courtroom — even though she testified in “Gloss-ter-sheer” via Zoom. Her vulnerability, that voice — a childish, Croydon whisper — and her face, like an elvish princess, are still captivating. For just three minutes and five seconds, she held the court in thrall.
It was an unusual sighting. Moss doesn’t like to talk. In a career that has spanned three decades, and seen her feature on a thousand covers, she has observed a strict omerta: like the Queen, she doesn’t do explain.
Moss’s relationship with Depp, which took place between the years of 1994-1998, was famously tempestuous. In her brief testimony on Wednesday, she delivered her version of an incident while on holiday with the actor in which she hurt her back. Her testimony was brief but unequivocal. Depp did nothing wrong: “He never pushed me, kicked me or threw me down any stairs.”
In the Madonna/whore roles into which most women are inevitably cast when they become a public figure, Moss’s appearance, like some avenging angel from Sarf London, did not serve Heard so well. Like an intriguing mirror of each other, the women both wore black blazers and pussy-bow tie blouses, and held their razor cheekbones high. Their similarities were quite unnerving, Depp sure does have a type: but where Heard is gurning outrage and emotion, Moss was monosyllabic, poker-faced and still.
For Depp’s legions of supporters, Moss’s appearance will serve to seal the case. That she was persuaded to speak as a witness, they argue, will assuage him of all guilt.
On Friday, the legal teams make their summations, and the jury, poor sods, will have to decide just who owes what to whom. I suspect Depp may win his suit on this occasion, but it will be a hollow win indeed.
Heard, meanwhile, will leave the courtroom looking pretty hopeless regardless of which way the jury sway. If #MeToo was on the chopping block before this, this case has dealt the killer blow. Heard was the imperfect victim, and few have been reluctant to rush to her defence. But who, watching this debacle, would want to pursue a domestic abuse case through the court? Heard did not seek this showdown; the case was brought by Depp. But he’ll probably recoup those lost earnings. He might even recoup his relationship with Moss.
Were there any lessons to be gleaned here? I guess we know what hearsay means. We’ve learnt that court trials require a lot of reiteration, and that celebrities own pill pots for their opiates on which their initials are engraved. We learnt that men feel very anxious when their wives make friends with James Franco. And that human defecation as a tool for humour rarely, ever, works. But mostly it’s been kind of gratifying to learn that even in the most gilded and beautiful of cages, real life can be hell. We also learnt that Moss once went on holiday to Jamaica and slipped on a wet stair. And that’s about the size of it. I’ll miss it when it’s done.
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