Johnny Depp opened up about his drug abuse on the witness stand during the first day of testimony in his libel suit against the parent company of The Sun Tuesday, The actor sued News Group Newspapers over a story out of the British tabloid that referred to him as a "wife-beater" in reference to his marriage to ex-wife Amber Heard, and the three-week trial wasted no time in digging up the less savory parts of his past.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor, 57, told a British High Court Judge he began using drugs "at a very young age" when asked during Tuesday's hearing by Sasha Wass QC, the lawyer for NGN, if it was true he "found drugs and alcohol" early in his life, BBC reports. Depp admitted he started taking drugs "at a very young age when it was not a particularly stable or secure or safe home life."
"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]," he said. The early use of drugs and alcohol was "the only way that I found to numb the pain," he added.
Depp then alleged he was in recovery from his substance abuse during "significant parts" of his marriage to Heard, 34, but accused the Rum Diaries actress of encouraging him to drink and take drugs "instead of supporting my sobriety." In a witness statement filed in December 2019 and obtained by PEOPLE, Depp said he was "not in any way embarrassed" to talk about his challenges with alcoholism and addiction, but "the way in which the Defendants have sought to portray this problem is not a fair or accurate reflection of the reality of addiction," and that it never caused him to "undertake violence against anyone."
Heard is due to give evidence for the newspaper at some point in the trial. In a statement submitted by News Group newspapers, the publishers of The Sun, the company said it would demonstrate "that the description of Mr Depp as a 'wife-beater' is entirely accurate and truthful," according to The Guardian. The publishers added, "The sting of the articles is correct – namely that [Depp] beat his wife Amber Heard causing her to suffer significant injury and on occasion leading to her fearing for her life."
Heard's representative spoke to reporters Tuesday, saying that the actress "never asked" to be involved in her ex's libel trial, as she has tried to "move on with her life" after obtaining a domestic violence restraining order against her ex in 2016. They added, "It is Johnny Depp who brought these proceedings against a British newspaper and has dragged her to the UK courts to give evidence on some of the most distressing moments of her life."