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Paul Bettany on texts to Johnny Depp being read aloud in libel trial: “It was an unpleasant feeling”

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Paul Bettany has spoken about having his text messages to Johnny Depp read aloud in court during the actor’s libel trial against The Sun newspaper.

Depp sued the publication in 2020 over a column that referred to the actor as a “wife beater”. A series of texts between Bettany and Depp – who have starred in three films together – were read aloud in the trial, where the pair joked about “drowning” Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard to prove she wasn’t a witch.

Speaking about the case to the Independent, Bettany said: “I think that’s a really difficult subject to talk about and I think that I just pour fuel on the fire.”

He added: “It was very strange. It was a strange moment. What was strange about it was you suddenly have one of the most scabrous newspapers in London and their lawyers pouring through your texts for the last 10 years.

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp appears at the High Court in London in 2020. Credit: Peter Summers/Getty Images

“Can you imagine what it would be like, honestly, to have a bunch of lawyers go through every one of your emails and texts for 10 years? All I can tell you was that it was an unpleasant feeling.”

One of the messages written by Bettany, sent in 2013, read: “I’m not sure we should burn Amber. She is delightful company and pleasing on the eye. We could of course do the English course of action and perform a drowning test. Thoughts? You have a swimming pool?”

In response, Depp wrote: “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”

Bettany replied: “My thoughts entirely. Let’s be certain before we pronounce her a witch.”

Depp lost the libel case after Judge Mr Justice Nicol said that he found the words to be “substantially true” in connection to domestic abuse allegations by Amber Heard.

Speaking in court, Nicol said: “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.”

Following the trial, Depp resigned from his role in the Fantastic Beasts franchise and was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen for the upcoming third instalment.

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