Johnny Depp accused his ex-wife Amber Heard of inventing allegations of spousal abuse and starting fights during their marriage at Britain's High Court on Tuesday.
The actor is suing publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its Kiwi executive editor, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article in The Sun newspaper which referred to him as a "wife-beater" in relation to domestic violence allegations made by Heard, which Depp has repeatedly denied.
According to The Guardian, an opening statement submitted to the court by the Pirates of the Caribbean star's barrister, David Sherborne, accused Heard of being "the abuser" in the marriage and claimed she orchestrated a May 2016 court appearance in which she appeared bruised and obtained a restraining order against the star, as they announced their divorce.
Sherborne said, "Ms Heard has invented these stories of serious violence. He is not and never has been a wife-beater. Indeed, he says that it was Ms Heard who was the one who started physical fights, who punched or hit him (and there was little he could really do to stop this); she was the abuser, not him. And the contemporaneous evidence fully supports that, as the court will hear."
The 57-year-old actor also entered the witness box after Sherborne's statement was submitted and answered questions in a quiet voice that resulted in him being asked to speak up.
He claimed he had tried to avoid confrontation when Heard, 34, instigated arguments, saying: "Whenever these situations would escalate, I would try and go to my own corner. I wanted to separate before things got out of hand."
Questioned about his drug use by Sasha Wass QC, acting for The Sun, Depp admitted he had begun taking his mother's "nerve pills" aged 11 and confirmed a previous interview stating he had used multiple drugs at age 14. However, he denied his drug use resulted in "destructive behaviour" and denied taking the drug ketamine but admitted using cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, mushrooms, and cannabis.
He was also questioned over his alleged "trashing" of hotel rooms, including one incident in which he was accused of inflicting $10,000 (£8,000) worth of damage. The actor admitted leaving a "few dents" in the room but denied he has an anger management problem.
Outside the court, a spokesperson for Heard, who is not a defendant in the trial, said she has "tried to moved on" but was being "dragged" through the U.K. courts to give evidence about "some of the most distressing moments of her life."
In their own opening statement, The Sun's lawyers said they would demonstrate "the description of Mr Depp as a 'wife-beater' is entirely accurate and truthful."
The trial is expected to last three weeks, with Depp's exes Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis prepared to give evidence in his defence.