Johnny Depp has liked his marriage to Amber Heard to his fraught relationship with his mother, calling it an “endless parade of insults”.
Mr Depp made the comparison as he summarized testimony in his defamation trial on Wednesday in Fairfax County, Virginia.
He recalled how “demeaning name calling”, being “berated” and “made a fool of” by Ms Heard would frequently escalate into full scale arguments.
“If there’s a dialogue between two people, both people need to speak. But there was no way to fit a word in. It was a sort of rapid-fire, endless parade of insults,” he said, adding that he “was not allowed to be right and not allowed to have a voice”.
“You start to slowly realize that you are in a relationship with your mother, in a sense. And I know that sounds perverse and obtuse, but the fact is, some people search for weaknesses in people,” he said.
Mr Depp had previously described childhood abuse by his mother, Betty Sue, on Tuesday.
He said he drew upon his experience with his mother when he tried to deescalate arguments with Ms Heard.
“As it escalated and continued to escalate, I went to straight to what I had learned as a youth, which was to remove myself from the situation so that it couldn’t continue,” he said. “Because there’s only so much your ears can hear and never forget.
“The only way I could find any sort of peace was to walk away, or try to walk away … there were times I would lock myself away in places she could not reach.”
During Tuesday’s testimony, Mr Depp described his mother as “very unpredictable” and said her feet were “on fire” – constantly feeling the need to move. He said she would hit her children, recalling constant fear that “whatever was handy” – be it an ashtray, high-heeled shoe or telephone – could be “flung at you”.
“She had the ability to be as cruel as anyone can be,” he said. “She was quite violent and she was quite cruel.”
He said the attacks often came out of nowhere, and he learned how to predict when Betty Sue was about to “head into a situation where she was going to be riled up and somebody was going to get it. Generally, it was me”.
Mr Depp began his turn on the witness stand by saying he wanted to clear his name and set out the truth about Ms Heard’s allegations of abuse during their marriage.
The actor has accused Ms Heard of defaming him in a December 2018 Washington Post op-ed titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” His suit from him seeks $50m in damages, both to his mental health and his career from him.
Mr Depp said he felt exposed testifying as he has been a private person, wanting to shield his children from “hordes of paparazzi” and that he didn’t want his kids to see their parents as “novelties”.
“I can’t say that I’m embarrassed because I know that I’m doing the right thing,” he added.
In her 2018 op-ed, Ms Heard partly wrote that “like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim”.
“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she added at the time.
While Mr Depp isn’t named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”.
Addressing the court directly this week, Mr Depp called Ms Heard’s claims “heinous”, “disturbing” and “not based on any species of truth”.