Editorial credit: BAKOUNINE / Shutterstock.com Amber Heard and Johnny Depp


Hollywood actor James Franco has been subpoenaed to give evidence about allegations of domestic violence by Johnny Depp towards Amber Heard in the latest twist in Depp’s $50 million US defamation claim against his ex-wife, which is listed for trial in Virginia this year.

Depp’s lawyers have obtained an order for Franco to give a deposition (sworn out of court evidence) early this year, in relation to his knowledge of issues in the defamation claim.

Franco lived in the same apartment building as Heard and a surveillance video from May 2016 showed the two of them getting into a lift together24 hours after a fight took place between Heard and Depp, which Heard alleged resulted in her receiving a black eye.

Franco is to be questioned as a potential witness to that incident as well as in relation to an allegation of a relationship with Heard while she was still married to Depp.

Depp has accused Heard of sleeping with Franco, during the filming of The Adderall Diaries, in which the pair starred together, in 2015.  Heard has denied the claim.

Depp famously brought a defamation claim here in the UK against the publisher of The Sun over domestic violence allegations, during which Heard gave evidence for the newspaper.  In November 2020, the Judge ultimately found that the newspaper’s statement – that Depp was a ‘wife beater’- was substantially true based on the evidence.

The US claim has been brought over statements in an op-ed written by Heard in The Washington Post in 2018, which did not name Depp, but in which she alleged she was a victim of domestic abuse.

Depp believes it cost him a role in Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean and brought a claim for defamation in Virginia, where The Washington Post is printed.

This latest trial is scheduled to take place on 11 April 2022 when it is due to be heard over two weeks before a jury.

Part of the enormous media interest in the 2020 trial related to the way in which the famous friends, former partners, and co-stars of Depp and Heard, including Vanessa Paradis, Paul Bettany and others, featured in the dispute.

Franco has recently generated significant headlines in his own right, as a result of his admission in December that he was addicted to sex and ‘completely blind to people’s feelings’, leading to him being ‘hooked’ on the attention he received from women for 20 years.

The role Franco now seems set to play, as a witness to key events in Depp’s and Heard’s relationship, will be yet another eye-catching feature of the forthcoming trial of the claim.