“Depp v. Heard”: The 6 most shocking moments from Netflix’s doc about the viral celebrity trial

The three-part series spotlights the social media frenzy that erupted amid Heard and Depp's public defamation trial

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published August 17, 2023 5:18PM (EDT)

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp at "Black Mass" premiere, 2015 (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp at "Black Mass" premiere, 2015 (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

In April 2022, actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp's legal troubles took center stage as the estranged pair faced off in a $100 million defamation trial. At the center of it all was Heard's 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post, in which she self-identifies as a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual violence but refrains from naming Depp as her abuser. Depp subsequently sued Heard for $50 million, accusing her of defamation. Heard then countersued for $100 million, claiming Depp had attempted to slander her name and smear her career.

The trial itself, which took place at Virginia's Fairfax County Circuit Court, was ugly from the get-go. But along the way, it grew even uglier, thanks to a social media frenzy largely fueled by impassioned Depp fans. Countless online accounts launched support campaigns for the actor, who simply could do no wrong in their eyes, alongside hate campaigns against Heard.

Social media no doubt played a huge role in the six-week-long trial, which finally came to an end in June 2022, and Netflix's "Depp v. Heard" documentary tries to examine that over the course of three episodes. Director Emma Cooper says the series attempts to cover the actual trial from a neutral perspective, instead placing special attention on the heated online reactions.

"My intention, right from the start, was to make a cogent and interesting reflection of what happened without using interviews or experts," Cooper told Variety.

Here are the six most shocking moments from the documentary:

Depp and Heard called each other "Steve and Slim" in early love letters
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard at "The Rum Diary" UK premiere, 2011 (Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)

Heard and Depp met in 2009 on the set of "The Rum Diary," Bruce Robinson's comedy-drama film based on the 1998 novel of the same name. The pair were cast as each other's love interest — Depp as the struggling author-turned-journalist Paul Kemp and Heard as Chenault, the fiancée of a shady businessman. They began dating shortly afterwards and pictured their affair as a Hollywood romance. 


Heard and Depp frequently exchanged love letters, in which Depp would call Heard "Slim," while she called him "Steve," nicknames used by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall's characters in the 1944 film "To Have and Have Not." Depp frequently compared Bogart and Bacall's 25-year age difference to his own 23-year age difference with Heard. Bogart and Bacall wed when Bacall was only 20 years old and Bogart was 45. At the time of their marriage, Depp was 51 years old while Heard was only 29. 


"I acknowledge the fact I was the old, craggy fogey, and she was this beautiful creature," Depp said.

A TikTok creator went out of her way to hand-deliver evidence against Heard
Amber Heard awaits the verdict in Depp v. Heard trial on June 1, 2022 (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / POOL / AFP)

During the trial, Heard's lawyer Elaine Bredehoft claimed the star used Milani Cosmetics' All In One Correcting Kit to cover her bruises until she filed for divorce from Depp in 2016. The claim, however, was denied by the cosmetic brand, which took to TikTok to share that the color correcting palette wasn't launched until 2017. 


The revelation went viral across social media, with several Depp fans urging Milani Cosmetics to submit its evidence to the actor's lawyers. Although the brand never did, one TikTok user named Nuha (@devotedly.yours) did instead. The TikToker filmed herself walking to the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia in hopes of providing Depp's legal team with the Milani Cosmetics evidence.   


"Alright guys, I'm here at the courthouse. I'm going to go inside right now and try to find his attorney," Nuha said in the video "I don't know how I'm supposed to find them, anybody on his team, but we're going to try. I'm sure if I ask I'm going to get kicked out, but here we go."


In a subsequent video, Nuha said she told Depp's lawyer, Camille Vasquez, that she "had information that could be useful to the case." In an email sent to Depp's attorneys, Nuha wrote:


"Amber's attorney showed a concealer kit during her opening statement and claimed it was in her purse the entire time she was with Johnny Depp (2014-2016) and that she used it all the time to cover up bruises. The makeup brand, Milani Cosmetics, just posted a TikTok today claiming the palette didn't exist until the end of 2017. I'm not sure if you can submit new evidence once trial begins or if any of this can be admissible but I think an attorney telling a lie to the jury should be something you should be able to call to question."

Depp's "mega pint of wine" testimony inspired a wacky meme
Johnny Depp arrives at the Fairfax County Courthouse on May 25, 2022 (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Although the phrase was initially said by Depp in court documents, it went viral when one of Heard's attorneys asked the actor if he poured himself a "mega pint of red wine" after a video recorded by Heard showed Depp angrily yelling and slamming kitchen cabinets.


The humorous phrase encouraged several Netizens to ask how much liquid volume actually goes into a Mega Pint. It also inspired countless memes, including a "Mega Pint" remix uploaded on YouTube, a comical skit posted by YouTuber snerixx and other similar posts on Instagram and Twitter. Mega Pint accessories, including stickers, T-Shirts and wine goblets, were even available.

Heard testified Depp sexually assaulted her with an alcohol bottle
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse on May 16, 2022 (Steve Helber / POOL / AFP)

Perhaps the most shocking revelation from the trial was when Heard testified that Depp had sexually assaulted her with a glass bottle. The documentary also noted that it was the "first time live U.S. courtroom footage showed a victim alleging sexual assault in full vision."


In her testimony Heard recounted the incident, saying, "At some point he's on top of me, screaming, 'I f**king hate you. You ruined my f**king life.' I'm on the countertop. He had me by the neck and was on top of me. My back was on the countertop. I thought he was punching me. I felt this pressure on my pubic bone and I could feel his arm moving. It looked like he was punching me. I could just feel this pressure."


She continued, "I remember looking around the room, looking at all the broken bottles, broken glass and I remember not wanting to move because I didn't know if it was broken, I didn't know if the bottle that he had inside me was broken."

Many speculated that the pro-Depp social media accounts were primarily bots
Johnny Depp departs the Fairfax County Courthouse on May 27, 2022 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The documentary spotlights, albeit briefly, the theory that many of the Depp stan accounts were online bots. "Cruel taunts, slanderous comments and ugly death threats on social media have some wondering if the former couple's online supporters are human beings at all," wrote Rolling Stone's Tatiana Siegel. The theory doesn't seem too far-fetched, considering that ardent Depp fans were fixated on tarnishing Heard's reputation and launching a myriad of hate comments at both Heard and her supporters.


There's still no definitive answer on whether the Depp fan accounts were run by actual people or not. Depp's legal team, however, told "Today" that Heard's claims of there being an online smear campaign coordinated against her were "utterly baseless" and "absurd."

Social media did ultimately influence the Depp-Heard verdict
"Depp v. Heard" (Netflix)

Depp and Heard's trial came to a dramatic end in June 2022 after a seven-person jury determined that Heard had acted with "malice" in her 2018 op-ed published for The Washington Post. Per the jury, Heard's written accounts of domestic abuse were enough to qualify as defamation and subsequently tainted Depp's own career and reputation.


Following the final verdict, one of Heard's lawyers told "Today" that "lopsided" social media chatter and posts about the Johnny Depp defamation trial "influenced" the verdict and turned the courtroom into a "zoo."


"How can you not? They went home every night. They have families. The families are on social media," Elaine Bredehoft said of the jurors. "We had a 10-day break in the middle because of the judicial conference. There's no way they couldn't have been influenced by it."

"Depp v. Heard" is currently available for streaming on Netflix. Watch a trailer for it below, via YouTube:

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Amber Heard Celebrities Defamation Trial Documentary Johnny Depp List Netflix