Collaborators of Johnny Depp testify about the challenges of working with him

(CNN) — Jurors in the ongoing libel case between actress Amber Heard and her ex-husband Johnny Depp heard testimony Thursday from Depp’s former talent agent, a former good friend and his former business manager, who described the tension in her relationships with the actor as her alleged substance abuse escalated.

Depp sued Heard for $50 million, claiming a 2018 op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post defamed him. Depp claims that the article, which she did not mention him by name, falsely portrayed him as an abuser. Heard countersued Depp for $100 million, saying statements by Depp’s lawyer in which she called his abuse claims a “hoax” were libelous.

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Tracey Jacobs, who testified in a recorded statement, said she represented Depp for 30 years as his talent agent, saying at one point he was “the biggest star in the world.” Jacobs said Depp fired her around the same time he parted ways with other partners in her life.

Jacobs stated that she was honest with Depp that his behavior, which included drug and alcohol use, was hurting his career. She stated that Depp regularly had to use a headset on set to be reminded of his lines.

“His star had dimmed because it was getting harder and harder to get jobs for him because of the reputation he’d gotten for being late and stuff,” Jacobs said. “People were talking and questioning her behavior.”

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As part of his lawsuit, Depp has claimed that Heard’s op-ed caused him to lose work, including tens of millions of dollars he said he would be paid for the sixth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, in which he would likely will not participate. Jacobs also stated that he did not recall that Disney had committed to Depp being a part of the film.

Jacobs stated that, at one point, Depp was in a state of “financial desperation” and asked the agency to give him $20 million.

Longtime Disney executive Tina Newman, whose statement was recorded in February and played for jurors Thursday, said she did not recall seeing Heard’s op-ed and that she does not know if Depp is being considered for a role in the movie. sixth film of “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

“That’s in another league,” Newman said. “I just know that it is a project that is possibly in development at the studio.”

Jurors also heard a recorded statement from Depp’s former business manager Joel Mandel, whom Depp parted ways with in 2016 and whose company Depp sued in 2017, accusing him of mismanaging his earnings. The lawsuit was settled in 2018.

Mandel testified that around 2010 Depp became more difficult to work with due to apparently daily substance use.

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“What I had always experienced as someone who liked to enjoy their wine at the end of the day turned into consumption that seemed excessive,” Mandel testified. “It became more difficult to coordinate and find times to meet. Over time it became clear that there were problems with alcohol and drugs. And that translated into more erratic behavior, more stressful, more times where it was difficult to engage the type of conversation I needed to do my job.

Mandel said he began expressing concern about Depp’s “very dire financial circumstances” very regularly in 2015, saying that while Depp’s income was very important, so were his expenses. Mandel said that at one point Depp was paying $300,000 a month to staff.

Heard’s legal team has pointed to the fact that several of Depp’s paid employees testified as part of his case against her and has accused them of siding with Depp because he pays them.

A former friend of Depp’s, Bruce Witkin, testified in a recorded statement that Depp stopped talking to him four years ago after testimony Witkin gave in a lawsuit. He testified that he had seen both Heard and Depp with injuries but that he had never witnessed physical altercations between them. Witkin said that he talked to Depp about his substance abuse and said that the people who worked around him were not always willing to talk about it.

“Like I said, payroll people don’t say much. They try, but they don’t want to lose their job. I’m not saying everyone falls into that category, but it’s a weird thing about people like him. Everyone wants something,” he said. Witkin.

Heard finished testifying earlier this week.

Actress Ellen Barkin, who said she had known Depp since 1990, testified that she had a relationship with Depp that turned intimate for several months in 1994.

Barkin stated that Depp was drunk “most or much of the time” he was with him and described him as controlling and jealous. The actress described an incident in a Las Vegas hotel room during a fight between other people.

“Mr. Depp threw a bottle of wine across the room, the hotel room, in Las Vegas, during the recording of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,'” Barkin recalled.

Court proceedings will resume on Monday for the final week of testimony.

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