Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis are defending Johnny Depp in his libel case against a U.K. tabloid

By Alexia Fernandez
July 16, 2020 03:50 PM
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Winona Ryder; Johnny Depp; Vanessa Paradis
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Johnny Depp's exes Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis are defending the actor in his libel suit against a U.K. tabloid.

The two actresses, who were previously in long-term relationships with Depp, 57, provided statements to the actor's case against The Sun and its parent company News Group Newspapers, LTD.

Depp is suing them for libel over a story that called the actor a "wife-beater" in reference to his former marriage to actress Amber Heard, 34.

Ryder, who was in a four-year relationship with Depp, said, "I am aware of the violence allegations that have been made publicly for the last few years by Johnny Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard," in a court statement obtained by PEOPLE.

"I knew Johnny very well years ago. We were together as a couple for four years, and I counted him as my best friend, and as close to me as family," Ryder said. "I count our relationship as one of the more significant relationships of my life."

The Stranger Things actress continued, "I understand that it is very important that I speak from my own experience, as I obviously was not there during his marriage to Amber, but, from my experience, which was so wildly different, I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him."

"The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved," the actress said. "I cannot wrap my head around these accusations. He was never, never violent towards me. He was never, never abusive at all towards me. He has never been violent or abusive towards anybody I have seen. I truly and honestly only know him as a really good man- an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy who was so very protective of me and the people that he loves, and I felt so very, very safe with him."

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp in January 2016.
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"I do not want to call anyone a liar but from my experience of Johnny, it is impossible to believe that such horrific allegations are true. I find it extremely upsetting knowing him as I do," she added.

Paradis, a French model, singer and actress, submitted a similar statement to the U.K. court, saying, "I have known Johnny for more than 25 years. We’ve been partners for 14 years and we raised our two children together. Through all these years I’ve known Johnny to be a kind, attentive, generous and non-violent person and father."

"On movie sets the actors, directors and entire crews adore him because he is humble and respectful to everyone, as well as being one of the best actors we’ve seen," Paradis, 47, continued. "I am aware of the allegations which Amber Heard has publicly accused Johnny of for more than 4 years now. This is nothing like the true Johnny I have known, and from my personal experience of many years, I can say he was never violent or abusive to me."

"I have seen that these outrageous statements have been really distressing, and also caused damage to his career because unfortunately people have gone on believing these false facts. This is so upsetting as he has helped so many persons in his personal and professional life, with kindness and generosity."

In March, Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean costar Penelope Cruz, wrote a declaration for court that she had not witnessed Depp, whom she met when she was 19, engaging in violent behavior.

"Many years have passed and I have not only made 3 movies with him, but I also count on him as a great friend. I’ve always been impressed by his kindness, his brilliant mind, his talent, and his peculiar sense of humor," she wrote in the court documents, obtained by The Blast at the time.

Heard and Depp married in 2015. In May 2016, she filed for a domestic violence restraining order against him, accusing him of abusing her. Depp denied the claims, and the former couple settled their divorce out of court in August 2016 for $7 million, which she donated to charity. Both actors signed NDAs barring them from discussing their relationship publicly.

Depp’s lawyers filed a $50 million defamation suit against Heard in 2019 in the U.S. over her Dec. 18, 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post titled, "I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change." While she never mentioned Depp by name, the actor’s lawsuit called her allegations against him a “hoax.”

Heard’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, urged the court last fall to throw out the suit, arguing that the column was not about Heard’s allegations against Depp, but in March, a Virginia judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.