Amber Heard's tempestuous journey from aspiring actress to controversy's favorite child
Aquaman's Amber Heard has been a living, breathing controversy magnet since she came into the spotlight in 2011
"History tends to favor those on the right side of it...Justice is not as nuanced or delicate as it’s made out to be," Amber Heard said in an interview with Allure in November 2017. Today, a little more than a year later, this statement rings truer than ever for Heard. While we aren't the judge and jury on whether she was on the "right side" of things or not, we can say this - Heard has been a living, breathing controversy magnet since she came into the spotlight in 2011.
A trail of controversies followed her much before she penned the recent Op-ed for The Washington Post. From her relationship with both Johnny Depp and Elon Musk to criminal charges and courtroom dramas, everything Heard says or does has started a storm, almost every time. So, how did a girl from Austin, Texas, become the public figure we know today?
Heard was a high school dropout by the age of 17. She grew up in her hometown in a cozy family of four. Her mum was an internet researcher and dad a contractor. However, Heard decided the quiet life wasn't really for her - her interests lay in showbiz. She decided to move to New York to try her hand at modeling before eventually moving to Los Angeles, hoping to find her big break.
At the time, in an interview with USA Today, she said she lived her life by one motto - "Today is what I have." From her resume, you can be sure she did try to make it like it was the last day she had. Before finding a relatively meaty role in The CW's 2007 teen drama 'Hidden Palms', she starred in multiple small guest roles in shows like WB's short-lived 2004 series 'Jack & Bobby' and 'The Mountain', 'Criminal Minds' as Spencer Reid's love interest Lila Archer, and appeared as a passing salesgirl in Fox's teen drama 'The O.C'.
She also managed to score small roles in movies like 'Drop Dead Sexy' in 2005 along with three more in 2006 - 'Price to Pay', 'You Are Here' and 'Alpha Dog'. She also starred in two music videos in the early stages of her career. Kenny Chesney's 'There Goes My Life' and Eisley's 'I Wasn't Prepared', both featured Heard.
Although her role in 'Hidden Palms' was that of the main cast, the series didn't do well. It was canceled the year it aired with only 8 out of 12 episodes seeing the light of day. She continued doing smaller roles (she starred in an episode of Showtime's 'Californication') and indie films like 'Day 73 with Sarah' and indie drama 'Remember the Daze'.
She appeared in multiple films after that, the most successful being 'Pineapple Express', 'Never Back Down' and the 2009 horror, 'The Stepfather.' Then in 2010, Heard publicly came out at GLAAD's 25th-anniversary event causing a stir. She was dating photographer Tasya van Ree at the time. She mentioned she was aware the decision made people question her.
She told Allure, "Everyone told me: 'You cannot do this.' I had played opposite Nicolas Cage [in one movie], and in another, I was playing opposite Johnny. And everyone said, ‘You’re throwing it all away. You can’t do this to your career.’ And I said, ‘I cannot do this any other way. Watch me.’" At the time, she was working on Hunter S. Thompson adaptation of 'The Rum Diary' with Johnny Depp and even before the wave of this controversy could end, another began - the two became romantically involved while working on the movie and soon started living together.
The rum diary Amber heard . My babe . ♡ pic.twitter.com/HiEr4U622T— ʙᴇᴄ. (@beccerz_b) November 12, 2015
When they started working on the film, Heard was still with van Ree (they split up in 2012) and Depp was in a longterm relationship with French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis, whom he met while filming 'The Ninth Gate in France' in 1998. They have two children and they parted ways the same year as Heard as van Ree.
Heard became the center of backlash after Depp confirmed he had a thing for Heard ever since they met on the set of the movie. "She was in my head, so I tracked her down," Depp, said at the time speaking at the 31st annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival where he was presented with the Maltin Modern Master Award for his accomplishments in the film industry.
"We tracked each other down. We tracked each other down. Actually, incidentally, it was amazing. It was at the first day of press on 'The Rum Diary'. Then we married that very day!" he said. Paradis reportedly called her a homewrecker and “a man-stealing, two-bit nobody." The rumor mill went crazy and reports surfaced about the relationship. Just two years later, the two tied the knot.
After the talk died down of her relationship, she made the news again and this time it was for breaching biosecurity laws in Australia. In 2015, Heard sneaked their two Yorkshire terriers in on a private jet through the Australian Customs Service and faked quarantine documents. According to Australia's biosecurity law, a breach of proper procedure meant the animals would be put down.
At the time, Depp was working in Queensland on 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.' The situation escalated to the point where Barnaby Joyce, Australia's Deputy PM said, "It doesn’t matter if you think that you’re Mr Who’s Who of Hollywood, you’re going to obey our laws." She pleaded guilty to falsifying quarantine documents and said she had made a "tired, terrible mistake". It was considered the "highest profile criminal quarantine case" in Australian history. Earlier this year, she mocked the video in an Instagram post, drawing flak.
Then, one of the greatest controversies surrounding Heard came along. Herd filed for divorce from Depp in 2016 and four days later, filed a restraining order as well, accusing him of being verbally and physically abusive throughout their almost four-year-long relationship. The battle had begun. Depp's lawyers negated the claims and over the next three months, Heard spent providing proof of the abuse.
In her divorce, she stated Depp had "began obsessing over something that wasn’t true” and “became extremely angry”, and had hurt her after he flung a phone at her face hurting her cheek and eye. She said he had done so "with extreme force”. They finalized the divorce in 2017 and Heard dismissed the restraining order.
She won a settlement of $7 million and the former couple said in a statement that their "relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm." At the time, Heard was accused of trying to mooch off Depp's wealth after she applied for spousal support.
Depp broke his silence over the scandal and said the whole episode had been very hurtful. "It hurts," he told GQ, "The thing that hurt me is being presented as something that you’re really as far away from as you could possibly get, you know? But to…To harm someone you love? As a kind of bully? No, it didn’t, it couldn’t even sound like me."
The money she received out of the settlement, she claimed to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union. In a statement, she said: "As described in the restraining order and divorce settlement, money played no role for me personally and never has, except to the extent that I could donate it to charity and, in doing so, hopefully, help those less able to defend themselves." In 2018, the Children's Hospital Los Angeles said Heard had donated less than $5 million to the ACLU in 2017.
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The internet accusations of her trying to make money off her partners didn't die down when, the same year, she was involved with billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, getting herself embroiled in yet another controversy. In an interview with US Weekly, a friend of Musk said, "Elon has been pursuing Amber, but she wouldn’t go out with him for a long time. She finally gave in. He even got her a Tesla!" The two were on-again-off-again for about a year after they got together, being spotted together in June 2017, two months after she filed for divorce with Depp.
Heard's journey to present has been a turbulent one for sure. She's been in the public eye for a long time and judging from her recent stance on equality advocacy, she's in no mood to slow down.