During the first day of the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial on Tuesday, scores of incendiary allegations from both camps—most of which were already made public knowledge in the immediate aftermath of the pair’s divorce and subsequent 16-day libel trial back in 2020—were reintroduced in opening statements. But Heard’s legal team saved one particular accusation that caught her ex-husband’s legal team by surprise.
Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, alleged that the actor sexually assaulted his then-wife with a liquor bottle in 2016. Bredehoft claimed that just prior to the alleged assault, Depp had taken several tablets of ecstasy during a “bender” with none other than accused sexual abuser, Marilyn Manson, before raping his wife.
In case you forgot, Manson is currently embroiled in his own legal troubles involving a number of women—like former on-again-off-again girlfriend, Evan Rachel Wood—who have waged allegations of serial sexual assault and abuse against him. But you might have been unaware of the longtime friendship shared by Depp and Manson.
The pair have reportedly been best pals since Manson, now 53, was 19-years-old and working as an extra on Depp’s show, 21 Jump Street. Over the years, they’ve walked the red carpet and shared a stage together, swapped some rather bizarre props from one another’s work (prosthetic breasts from Manson’s, Mechanical Animals and Depp’s wig from Blow) and even gotten multiple matching tattoos. Even more disturbingly, Manson is the godfather to Depp’s daughter, Lily-Rose.
“Lily-Rose is my goddaughter and I was there when [his son] Jack was born, so we go back,” Manson told the Daily Beast in 2017. “Johnny is one of the nicest people that I know—to the extent where it’s almost heartbreaking how kind he is to his friends, and everyone around him.” Manson also added that Depp had been wrongfully “crucified” in the wake of his divorce from Heard.
Depp’s team swiftly refuted the recent sexual assault allegation, of course, as they have with every accusation Heard has made. The actor’s lawyer, Camille Vasquez, told the jury: “Ms. Heard had never made that accusation against Mr. Depp—it was never part of her allegations of abuse. So, what changed?” She also implied that Heard has maintained a “pattern” of telling lies in a “constantly changing, evolving, ever more dramatic story.”
Heard’s team begged to differ. “For years, all Mr. Depp has wanted to do is humiliate Amber, to haunt her, to wreck her career,” Rottenborn argued, calling Depp “an obsessed ex-husband hellbent on revenge.”
If haunting, humiliating and wrecking a woman’s life sounds familiar, it’s likely because Manson’s accusers have alleged similar behavior. Wood, who just released Phoenix Rising—a deeply upsetting docuseries outlining her relationship with Manson and his alleged abuse of other women like actress Esme Bianco—has said she’s felt “publicly gaslit” by Manson after he recently took a page from his buddy Depp’s playbook and sued her for defamation.
Given how much Manson has already been mentioned, it seems quite possible that Heard’s team might have some success simply by relying on Depp’s relationship to Manson. Odds seem high that there are more than a few parallels between the two—as the saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together.”
I’m no legal expert, but I’d start with the strange tattoos and prosthetic boobs.