Johnny Depp appeared to say he gave his 13-year-old daughter cannabis as a “responsible parent” on the first day of his high-profile libel trial against The Sun.
The Hollywood actor’s use of drugs was a recurring theme in exchanges with Sasha Wass QC, the barrister representing the tabloid’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN), as he began three days of cross-examination at the High Court in London.
Mr Depp is suing NGN and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an article which called him a “wife beater” and referred to “overwhelming evidence” that he attacked his ex-wife Amber Heard, 34, during their relationship – which he strenuously denies.
NGN is defending the case and says it will prove to be true that Mr Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive” towards her, “particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs”.
But in his witness statement, Mr Depp said Ms Heard “often encouraged me to drink alcohol and to take drugs, even though she knew that my relationship with alcohol and drugs was a difficult one for me”.
Giving evidence on Tuesday, Mr Depp said there had been “an internal fight in me in terms of alcohol and drugs and other numbing agents throughout my life, from the age of 11”, when he first took one of his mother’s “nerve pills”.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean star also seemed to say he had given his then 13-year-old daughter Lily-Rose cannabis because he did not want her to go “into some paranoid tailspin and I knew that the marijuana I had myself, that I smoke myself, is trustworthy”.
He told the court that his drug use started “at a very young age, when it was not a particularly stable or secure or safe home life, and there was quite a lot of unpleasantness in the house”.
He said: “My mother used to ask me to go and get her ‘nerve pills’ and I think I was around the age of 11 that it dawned on me that ‘nerve pills’ were calming her nerves, so I brought her her nerve pills and I took one and that began (my drug use).”
Mr Depp also said he would supply his friend, actor Paul Bettany – who Ms Wass described as one of his “drugs buddies” – with “what he asked for”, including cocaine, if he was “feeling anxious or he was feeling unpleasant”.
A video of Mr Depp, recorded by Ms Heard without Mr Depp’s knowledge, was played to the court which showed the actor shouting “motherf*****” and kicking a cabinet a number of times, while Ms Heard can be heard asking “what happened?”.
Mr Depp then appeared to pour what Ms Wass referred to as a “mega pint of red wine”, which the barrister said “is not everybody’s choice for breakfast”.
Asked if he had taken cocaine before the video was filmed, Mr Depp said he had not.
Ms Wass asked: “How can you be so quick to answer the question that you have not taken cocaine?”
Mr Depp replied: “Well, because contrary to what is put forth in all these books, contrary to what it says in these books that I’m always on cocaine, I’m always high or inebriated, I’m always drunk, I’m always this, I’m always that – that, I have to say, is a physical impossibility.”
At the end of the hearing on Tuesday, Mr Depp said he smoked “a lot of marijuana when I was in a relationship with Ms Heard”, adding that there were “a lot of medicinal qualities to cannabis”.
Ms Wass asked: “Is that why you encouraged your daughter to use weed?”
Mr Depp replied: “I never encouraged my daughter to use marijuana.”
NGN’s barrister then read a series of emails between Mr Depp and his daughter which she said showed him “teaching her about smoking cannabis when she is only 13 years old”.
Mr Depp explained that he had told his daughter: “Please do me the honour of coming to me when you are ready, when you really feel you are ready, because I don’t want your first experience in this world to be with people you don’t know, taking things you don’t know that I can’t trust, so it’s a safety issue.
“It is a father worried about his daughter in these kind of situations and when she came to me and said ‘I’m ready’ I spoke with her mother … Vanessa (Paradis, his ex-partner) spoke with her.
“I know that the most important thing for a child, if they are going to do something like that, I would rather have them be honest and have me be honest with them so that she doesn’t go out there and do these things and hide them from me.”
He added: “If that is wrong in your eyes, I appreciate what you think but I was raising a daughter and I was being a responsible parent as far as I was concerned.”