James Franco and Elon Musk to testify at Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s defamation trial

Marvel star Paul Bettany will also be called as a witness during the trial

James Franco and Elon Musk are among the names set to testify at Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s upcoming defamation trial.

The long-delayed trial begins next month, with Marvel star Paul Bettany joining Franco and Musk as a witness. Representatives from the Walt Disney company and Warner Bros will also testify.

According to Deadline, Franco and Musk are being brought in to testify on behalf of Heard after Depp accused them both of having an affair with his ex-wife.

In 2019, Depp launched a defamation lawsuit against Heard, after she wrote a 2018 article in The Washington Post claiming she was a victim of domestic abuse.

Depp and Heard will testify in person, per Bloomberg. However, Franco, Musk and Bettany will give their testimonies virtually.

Depp and Heard were married between 2015 and 2017. After failing to get the case either moved to California or dismissed, Heard countersued Depp for $100million (£75.9million) in September 2020.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. CREDIT: Getty Images

In November 2020, Depp lost a libel case against The Sun newspaper, after suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) and the paper’s executive editor Dan Wootton over an April 2018 article which labelled Depp a “wife beater” in relation to allegations from Heard. Depp has strongly denied these claims.

The trial originally took place over 16 days in July 2020, and concerned an article titled “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”

However, in a ruling on November 2, 2020, Judge Mr. Justice Nicol said that he found the words to be “substantially true”.

“Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true,” he said (via BBC News).

The defamation trial is due to begin April 11 at the Fairfax County courthouse in Virginia.

Meanwhile, a new documentary series that will spotlight the turbulent relationship between Depp and Heard is currently in development.

The two-part series, called Johnny Vs. Amber, will break down the couple’s marriage, divorce and consequent legal action against each other, from multiple viewpoints.

Interviews with the pair’s lawyers, plus people who claim to be close to them, will be included in the series, which will play on Discovery+.

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