Amber Laura Heard (born April 22, 1986) is an American actress. She had her first leading role in the horror film All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006), and went on to star in films such as The Ward (2010), Drive Angry (2011), and London Fields (2018). She has also had supporting roles in films including Pineapple Express (2008), Never Back Down (2008), The Joneses (2009), The Rum Diary (2011), Paranoia (2013), Machete Kills (2013), Magic Mike XXL (2015), and The Danish Girl (2015). Heard is part of the DC Extended Universe franchise, playing Mera in Justice League (2017) and Aquaman (2018). She has also acted in television series such as The CW's teen drama Hidden Palms (2007) and the Paramount+'s fantasy series The Stand (2020).
In 2016, Heard became a volunteer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the capacity of an ACLU Artist Ambassador, a role reserved for individuals who advocate for civil rights and civil liberties. Heard also served as a Human Rights Ambassador for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Heard married actor Johnny Depp in 2015 until their dissolution of the marriage in 2016. The two have since accused each other of domestic abuse and engaged in two lengthy and high-profile defamation cases, including the Depp v. NGN trial and the widely publicized Depp v. Heard trial.
Amber Laura Heard was born on April 22, 1986, in Austin, Texas, the middle child of three daughters of internet researcher Patricia Paige (née Parsons; 1956–2020) and construction company owner David Clinton Heard (born 1950). The family lived outside Austin. Heard's father trained horses in his free time, and she grew up riding horses, hunting, and fishing with him. She also participated in beauty pageants, although as an adult she has said that she could no longer "support the objectification". Raised Catholic, Heard began identifying as an atheist at the age of sixteen after her best friend died in a car crash. The following year, no longer comfortable in "conservative, God-fearin' Texas", Heard dropped out of her Catholic high school to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles. She eventually earned a diploma through a home-study course.
Heard's earliest acting work included appearances in two music videos, Kenny Chesney's "There Goes My Life" and Eisley's "I Wasn't Prepared", and small supporting roles in the television series Jack & Bobby (2004), The Mountain (2004), and The O.C. (2005). She made her film debut in a minor role in the sports drama Friday Night Lights (2004), followed by brief supporting roles in films Drop Dead Sexy (2005), North Country (2005), Side FX (2005), Price to Pay (2006), Alpha Dog (2006), and Spin (2007), and a guest-starring spot in an episode of the police procedural crime drama television series Criminal Minds. Heard received her first leading role in the unconventional slasher film All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, which premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, but was not released in Europe until 2008 and in the US until 2013 due to distribution problems.
In 2007, Heard played the love interest of the main character in The CW's teen drama Hidden Palms, which the network aired to replace summer reruns of other series aimed at teenage audiences. That same year, Heard also appeared in the short movie Day 73 with Sarah, in the teen drama Remember the Daze, and in an episode of the Showtime series Californication.
Heard gained mainstream recognition in 2008 with supporting roles in the Judd Apatow-produced stoner comedy Pineapple Express and the martial arts drama Never Back Down. She also appeared as part of an ensemble cast in an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's novel The Informers (2008). The following year, Heard starred in The Joneses (2009) opposite David Duchovny and Demi Moore; Variety wrote that Heard "more or less steals the show" from Moore. Outside a brief appearance in the box office hit Zombieland (2009), Heard's other films during this time were either independent films that received only limited theatrical release – ExTerminators (2009), The River Why (2010), And Soon the Darkness (2010) – or critically panned horror films – The Stepfather (2009), The Ward.
Heard's first film release in 2011 was Drive Angry, a supernatural action thriller in which she was paired with Nicolas Cage. The film underperformed commercially, but film critic Roger Ebert wrote that she "does everything that can possibly be done" with her character, a waitress who becomes entangled in an undead man's mission to save his daughter from a cult. In early 2011, Heard also appeared on the British television program Top Gear as a star in a reasonably priced car coming 33rd of 41 on their Cee'd leaderboard. Heard next starred in NBC's The Playboy Club, a crime drama series about the original Playboy Club in 1960s Chicago. After poor reviews and ratings as well as protests from both feminists and conservative groups, the series was canceled after only three episodes had aired. Heard's third role of 2011 was as the love interest of the main character, played by Johnny Depp, in the Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary (2011). A commercial failure, grossing $30 million on a $45 million budget, the film received mixed reviews. In 2011, Heard appeared in an advertisement campaign for the fashion brand Guess.
Heard next starred in the thriller Paranoia (2013), the exploitation film Machete Kills (2013), and the satire Syrup (2013). That year also saw the US limited release of All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. Heard's performance in the film was deemed her "most definitive to date" by the Los Angeles Times and "psychologically interesting" by The Washington Post. In 2014, Heard appeared in a supporting role in the action-thriller 3 Days to Kill.
In 2015, Heard had a prominent role in the comedy-drama Magic Mike XXL, playing the love interest of the film's protagonist, Channing Tatum. Heard also had a small supporting role in Tom Hooper's period drama The Danish Girl (2015), and a starring role opposite James Franco and Ed Harris in the independent crime thriller The Adderall Diaries (2015). IndieWire stated that although Heard was "miscast" in The Adderrall Diaries, she "displays much potential and has succeeded in a bid to be taken more seriously". Her fourth role in 2015 was opposite Christopher Walken in the television film One More Time, which aired on Starz. For her role as a struggling singer-songwriter, she took singing lessons and learned to play piano and guitar. The Los Angeles Times called her performance "superb" and The Film Stage stated that Heard did an "admirable job". The actress also appeared in a November 2015 episode of the American automotive reality series Overhaulin', in which her Mustang received a makeover. It also featured the cast pranking Heard at the behest of Depp.
Heard played the female lead in London Fields, an adaptation of Martin Amis's novel about a clairvoyant femme fatale who knows she will be murdered. It premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Shortly after the screening, the film was pulled from release due to disagreements between its director and producers, and due to litigation. Heard was sued for $10 million for allegedly breaching performance and promotional obligations. The actress countersued, claiming the producers had violated a nudity rider in her contract. In September 2018, a settlement was reached, and the film was finally released. It received highly negative reviews, and Heard later stated that "it was one of the most difficult movies to film and it has proven to continue to be difficult ... I can't say I did [the character] justice". Jane Mulkerrins of The Daily Telegraph wrote that Heard provided "a decent enough turn as the enigmatic [Nicola Six]" that still could not save the adaptation, while Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com said that she "just does not project the kind of mystery and allure" that the character requires. In 2019, Heard's performance in the film received a nomination for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress.
In 2017, Heard appeared as part of an ensemble cast in Lake Bell's indie comedy I Do... Until I Don't and joined the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) cast as Mera, a princess of an Atlantean kingdom, in the superhero film Justice League. She reprised the role the following year in Aquaman, which co-starred Jason Momoa and marked Heard's first major role in a studio film. She cited Mera's trait of being "a strong, independent, self-possessed superhero in her own right" as one of the reasons for her attraction to the role as well as Mera's rejection of being called Aquawoman instead of by her own name. Aquaman received mixed reviews. It was a commercial success, grossing over $1 billion. The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips and The Independent's Geoffrey Macnab respectively noted that Heard "lends a blasé air of early '50s B-movie cheese" and that she "camps it up entertainingly" as Mera. That same year, Heard was appointed global ambassador for cosmetics brand L'Oréal Paris.
In 2019, Heard had supporting roles in the independent dramas Her Smell and Gully. Her only project released in 2020 was The Stand, a miniseries based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. She played Nadine Cross, a school teacher who is among the few survivors of an apocalyptic plague. It premiered on CBS All Access in December 2020, with the series finale airing in February 2021. In 2021, Heard reprised her role as Mera in the superhero film Zack Snyder's Justice League, a director's cut of the 2017 film, for which she had also filmed new scenes.
Heard is set to star in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023), a sequel to Aquaman. An online petition to remove Heard from the film began following her ex-husband Depp's loss in his UK libel case and his replacement in the Fantastic Beasts films in 2020. Heard described the campaign as "paid rumors and paid campaigns on social media", and the film's co-producer, Peter Safran, confirmed that Heard would appear in the sequel. By the start of the 2022 Depp v. Heard trial in the US, the petition had reached 2 million signatures. Heard stated that she "'fought really hard to stay in the movie' but that 'they didn't want to include me in the film' and only shot a 'very pared-down version' of her part". Walter Hamada, a former DC Studios president, and James Wan, the film's director, attributed the reduction of Heard's role to the sequel's intention to focus on the relationship between Momoa and Patrick Wilson's characters.
Heard's first role after the trial was in the film In the Fire, directed by Conor Allyn. The film premiered at the Taormina Film Fest in June 2023. It was released in October 2023.
Heard traveled to the Mexico-US border with Amnesty International and worked with the organization on a bilingual campaign to raise awareness about US immigration policies. She supported the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights's Stand Up for Human Rights campaign. Heard was one of the speakers at the United Nations's 9th Annual Social Good Summit in September 2018. In her talk, she highlighted the centrality of humans and significance of fairness and justice, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ahead of the 70th anniversary of the declaration's drafting, Heard gave a speech at HagueTalks' Imagine the World We Want event in October 2018.
In April 2018, Heard joined the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) on a multi-specialty medical mission to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan as a Goodwill Ambassador. She henceforth partnered with SAMS to help finance treatment for children in the camp with thalassemia. In November 2018, she visited Smile Train's programs in Mexico, during which she met with children with cleft lip and palate, their families, and doctors. In February 2019, Heard joined SAMS' mission to Lebanon to help Syrian refugees living in poverty, during which she visited informal settlements in Beqaa Valley. She also partnered with SAMS in raising funds for psychosocial and educational programs and vocational training for the women and children in these settlements.
In November 2016, Heard appeared in a public service announcement (PSA) on domestic violence for the #GirlGaze Project. In the PSA, she spoke about the importance of making it easier for violence against women (VAW) survivors to come forward and self-advocate. She also highlighted the importance of taking responsibility for how VAW is handled and discussed in society. In a letter published in the December 2016 issue of Porter magazine, she spoke to "every woman who is suffering in silence" that said they "may not see us, but we are there. Your sisters are everywhere... and we are with you."
During The Economist's Pride and Prejudice event in March 2017, Heard highlighted the underrepresentation of LGBTQ characters in the Hollywood film industry. Referencing her own coming out story, she praised actresses that are candid about their sexuality and encouraged men in the industry to help "challenge the status quo". In August 2017, Heard produced a short video for the publication, in which she spoke about the gender pay gap and underrepresentation of women in the industry. In 2018, Heard became an ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), aiding the organization's advocacy for justice in gender issues.
In August 2016, Heard pledged to donate her $7 million divorce settlement with Johnny Depp to the ACLU and Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). In November 2016, she defended this pledge against an allegation from TMZ–despite Depp not having completed the payment to her–that she had not yet made the donations as pledged. CHLA included Heard in their "Honor Roll of Donors" list for the fiscal year 2017. Depp finished paying the full settlement to Heard in October 2018. On the Dutch talk show RTL Late Night in October 2018, Heard said she had donated $7 million to the ACLU and CHLA. As part of Depp v News Group Newspapers Ltd, Heard stated in a 2020 testimony that the settlement's full amount was donated to charity.
In January 2021, the Daily Mail reported an allegation made by Depp's lawyers that Heard had yet to complete her donations. In response to this claim, Heard's lawyer stated that Heard intended to "eventually fulfill her pledge" but had "been delayed in that goal because ... she has been forced to spend millions of dollars" following Depp's lawsuit. During the 2022 Depp v. Heard trial, the corporate designee of CHLA testified that as of 2021, Heard had given the organization $250,000. The ACLU's chief operating officer testified in December 2021 that the organization expected to receive the money over a 10-year period. To that time, a total of $1.3 million had been donated to the ACLU in Heard's name between 2016 and 2018. Heard testified that defending the case had cost her more than $6 million in legal fees and that she planned to resume her donations when she could.
In May 2019, Heard gave a speech on Capitol Hill in support of the SHIELD Act, discussing her experience with the nonconsensual leak of her private photos obtained via hacking as part of the 2014 celebrity nude photo leak. Heard wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in November 2019, deeming "revenge porn" an inappropriate label due to the lack of consent for the images' disclosure and emphasizing the importance of congressional legislation to protect privacy in light of state laws' failure. In the same month, Heard, together with Nico Tortorella and DC Comics, was awarded for "their activism and commitment to disenfranchised youth" by the Hetrick-Martin Institute. Prior to the 2020 United States presidential election, Heard appeared in an election ad created by artist Marilyn Minter in support of Planned Parenthood and participated in the VoteRiders #IDCheck Challenge on social media.
Heard publicly came out in 2010, but has stated, "I don't label myself one way or another – I have had successful relationships with men and now a woman. I love who I love; it's the person that matters."
Heard was in a relationship with photographer Tasya van Ree from 2008 to 2012. Heard had her last name legally changed to van Ree during the relationship and reverted to her birth name in 2014. In 2009, Heard was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, Washington state after allegedly hitting van Ree. Heard appeared the next day in King County District Court, Seattle but was not charged. The arrest was made public in 2016 during Heard's divorce proceedings from actor Johnny Depp. A statement was then issued by Heard's publicist in which van Ree said that Heard had been "wrongfully" accused and that the incident had been "misinterpreted and over-sensationalized", while also recalling "hints of misogynistic attitudes toward us which later appeared to be homophobic when they found out we were domestic partners and not just 'friends'" and adding that Heard and her "shared 5 wonderful years together and remain close to this day." The female officer who conducted the arrest—herself a lesbian—subsequently posted on Facebook to say, "I am so not homophobic or misogynistic! The arrest was made because an assault occurred (I witnessed it)."
Heard was one of the victims of the 2014 celebrity nude photo leak, in which "more than 50 of [her] personal photos were stolen and released to the public" with Heard later both speaking and writing against such breaches of privacy.
Following her divorce from Johnny Depp, Heard dated tech entrepreneur and Tesla CEO and shareholder Elon Musk for a year, until early 2018. She later had a relationship with actress and cinematographer Bianca Butti from January 2020 to December 2021.
In April 2021, Heard had her first child, a daughter, via surrogacy. As of June 2023, Heard resides in Madrid, Spain.
Heard first met actor Johnny Depp in 2009 when she was cast in The Rum Diary opposite him. According to reports, the couple began dating in 2012 and were married in a civil ceremony in February 2015.
In April 2015, Heard and Depp breached Australia's biosecurity laws when they failed to declare in customs the two dogs accompanying them when they flew into Queensland, where Depp was working on a film. In May 2015, the dogs were flown out of the country hours before a euthanasia deadline. Later in July of the same year, only Heard was charged for this breach in the laws.
By December 2015, the case had been adjourned four times with Heard having instructed her lawyers to enter not guilty pleas and stating that she was "looking forward" to fighting the charges. In the court case in April 2016, Heard pleaded guilty to falsifying quarantine documents, stating that she had made a mistake due to sleep deprivation. While criminal charges were dropped, she was placed on a A$1,000 (US$752) one-month good behaviour bond for producing a false document; Heard and Depp released a video apologizing for their behavior and urging others to adhere to biosecurity laws.
Heard filed for divorce from Depp in May 2016 and obtained a temporary restraining order against him, releasing a statement saying that, "During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me. I endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse from Johnny, which has included angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him." She requested $50,000 a month "as and for pendente lite spousal support based on [their] marital lifestyle." In response, Depp's counsel said "Amber is attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse", but agreed with her request for a restraining order, saying Depp "nonetheless has every intention of staying away from Amber and will stipulate to mutual stay-away and personal conduct orders."
A settlement amount for the divorce was arrived at in August 2016, and Heard pledged to donate the proceeds equally between the ACLU and CHLA. She dropped her request for a continued restraining order and she and Depp issued a joint statement saying that their "relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm".
The final terms of the settlement were agreed upon by January 2017 with Depp being required to complete the payment of $7 million to Heard by February 2018, contribute $500,000 towards Heard's attorneys fees, and to give Heard custody of their two dogs, a horse, and two cars. Depp was to retain all his real estate assets and 42 vehicles and no spousal support would be paid by either party. In her 2022 testimony, Heard stated that because they had no pre-nuptial agreement, she would have been entitled to half of Depp's earnings of $65 million during the marriage had she requested it.
In June 2018, Depp brought a libel lawsuit in the United Kingdom against News Group Newspapers (NGN), the company publishing The Sun, which had labeled him a "wife beater" in an April 2018 article. Heard was a key witness for NGN during the highly publicized trial in July 2020. In November 2020, the presiding judge found that Depp had lost his claim and that "the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp [12 out of the 14] have been proved to the civil standard". The court rejected Depp's claim of a hoax, and accepted that the allegations Heard had made against Depp had damaged her career and activism. Depp's appeal to overturn the verdict was rejected in March 2021.
In February 2019, Depp sued Heard for defamation over a December 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post. In the lawsuit, Depp alleged that the op-ed contained three defamatory statements, the first of which was a headline:
Depp also alleged that Heard had been the one who abused him, and that her allegations constituted a hoax against him.
In August 2020, Heard filed a counterclaim against Depp, alleging that he had coordinated "a harassment campaign via Twitter and [by] orchestrating online petitions to get her fired from Aquaman and L'Oréal." Ultimately, Heard's counterclaim went to trial over three allegations that Depp had defamed her through statements made by his then-lawyer, Adam Waldman, published in the Daily Mail in April 2020, where Waldman stated:
The Depp-Heard trial took place in Fairfax County, Virginia between April 11 and June 1, 2022. The verdict was that for Depp's lawsuit, the jury found that all three statements from Heard's op-ed were false, defamed Depp, and were made with actual malice, so the jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages from Heard. The punitive damages were reduced to $350,000 due to a limit imposed by Virginia state law. For Heard's counterclaim, the jury found that Waldman's first and third statements to the Daily Mail had not been proven to be defamatory, while finding that Waldman's second statement to the Daily Mail was false, defamatory and made with actual malice. As a result, Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and zero in punitive damages from Depp.
Over the course of the trial, online public sentiment was generally against Heard as she was made fun of and labeled "crazy" and as her testimony, which was mocked widely, was thought to be false. Heard said she was "harassed, humiliated, threatened every single day" and described online criticism of her testimony as "agonizing". After the trial, Heard said that she did not "blame" the jury for the verdict, that they possibly favored Depp because of his celebrity, not the evidence, as he was a "fantastic actor" and "people feel they know him". An interviewer hypothesized that the jury had reviewed the evidence and had not believed Heard's testimony and Heard responded to this by questioning how the jury could have believed her by the time she got on the stand when they had already listened "to three-and-a-half weeks of testimony about how I was a non-credible person".
The day after the verdict was read, Heard's lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, told interviewers that Heard could not afford to pay the damages owed to Depp and would appeal the verdict. A month later, one of Heard's insurance providers, New York Marine, sued Heard in federal court, wanting to avoid paying up to $1 million for her legal defense fees in the Virginia case, arguing that the "jury's factual findings establish that Heard's liability is caused by the willful act(s) of Heard", hence New York Marine is "not liable" for the loss.
After they both filed to appeal the verdict, Depp and Heard settled the case in December 2022, with Heard publicly stating that even if her appeal succeeds, she "simply cannot go through" a retrial, while maintaining that the settlement was "not an act of concession." Meanwhile, Depp's lawyers stated that the "jury's unanimous decision and the resulting judgement in Mr. Depp's favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place," and that the settlement would result in $1 million being paid to Depp by Heard's insurer, which "Depp is pledging and will donate to charities."
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