Will Amber Heard’s abuse claims bruise Johnny Depp’s image forever?

  • AP, Los Angeles
  • Updated: May 29, 2016 14:29 IST
Actress Amber Heard obtained a restraining order on Friday against her estranged husband Johnny Depp after accusing the actor of verbal, emotional and physical abuse, days after she filed for divorce to end their 15-month marriage. (AFP)

Domestic violence accusations often leave permanent damage. Globally beloved Johnny Depp will continue to be popular and make millions as a movie star, despite his wife’s allegations that he was physically abusive throughout their relationship. But he’ll have a permanent edge now that no camera lens can soften.

“Johnny Depp was very well-liked by women and I think these accusations are going to stain him,” said long-time Hollywood publicist Michael Levine. “It’s very hard (to overcome), even if the woman recants.”

The filings includes pictures of Heard’s injured face. She appeared to have a bruise on her right cheek as she left a downtown Los Angeles courtroom. (Reuters)

Fans can be deeply forgiving, willing to look past their favourite star’s terrible drug addiction, ugly custody battle or ignorant remarks. But accusations of domestic violence often leave a lasting impression on a celebrity’s image. Chris Brown may be winning Grammys, but nobody’s forgotten what happened with Rihanna.

Read: Johnny Depp physically abused me throughout marriage, says Amber Heard

Amber Heard, who cited irreconcilable differences when she filed for divorce from Depp earlier this week, appeared in a Los Angeles court room Friday to request a restraining order against her husband of 15 months. A judge ordered Depp to stay away from Heard and not to attempt contact with her before a June 17 hearing.

Johnny Depp and his actress wife Amber Heard arrive for the British premiere of the film Black Mass in London. (REUTERS)

Heard said in a sworn declaration that Depp threw her cellphone at her during a fight Saturday, striking her cheek and eye. She submitted a picture of her bruised face when she applied for a restraining order Friday. She also wrote that the actor pulled her hair, screamed at her and repeatedly hit her and violently grabbed her face.

Read: Why Amber Heard’s divorcing Johnny Depp 3 days after his mother’s death

Los Angeles police responded to a domestic violence call at the couple’s home on May 21, but the person who made the call declined to file charges and officers determined no crime occurred.

Depp’s publicist did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

As with Brown, Mel Gibson, and football star Ray Rice, allegations of domestic violence have staying power, particularly when there’s physical evidence. Heard said Depp was drunk and high when he allegedly assaulted her last week and on other occasions.

In the court of public opinion, alcoholism and drug addiction are much easier to forgive than domestic violence, Levine said, anticipating Depp will soon make an image-saving trip to rehab.

“That’s what most people do,” Levine said. “That’s the general defence line. If he just tries to ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen, I think he’s going to pay a price in both the short and long term.”

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