WASHINGTON (AFP) - Hollywood actor Johnny Depp's career and finances were already in serious trouble before his then wife, actress Amber Heard, accused him of domestic violence in 2016, his former agent and business manager testified on Thursday (May 19).
Ms Tracey Jacobs, Depp's former agent, said the actor "became the biggest star in the world" during the three decades she represented him in Hollywood.
But the reputation of the Pirates Of The Caribbean (2003 to 2017) star had begun to dim after 2010 because of his "unprofessional behaviour," she said.
The United Talent Agency agent made the statements in a videotaped deposition on Day 19 of the defamation suit filed by Depp, 58, against his former wife.
Heard, now 36, filed for a temporary restraining order against Depp in May 2016, citing domestic violence, and subsequently filed for divorce.
Depp brought suit against Heard over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018, in which she described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse."
Heard, who had a starring role in Aquaman (2018), did not name Depp in the op-ed, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and is seeking US$50 million (S$69 million) in damages.
The Texas-born Heard counter-sued, asking for US$100 million and claiming she suffered "rampant physical violence and abuse" at his hands.
Depp, during his four days on the witness stand, denied ever striking Heard and claimed that she was the one who was frequently violent.
Depp's lawyers allege that the domestic abuse accusations damaged his reputation, but his former agent said his star had already begun to wane before then.
Ms Jacobs said Depp's "unprofessional behaviour" included drug and alcohol use and "showing up late to set consistently on virtually every movie".
"Crews don't love sitting around for hours and hours and hours waiting for the star of the movie to show up," she said.
"It's a small community and it made people reluctant to use him toward the end."
Ms Jacobs also said Depp was in such "financial desperation" in January 2016 that he came to the agency and asked for US$20 million.
"The question was not asked as a loan," she said.
Ms Jacobs said her partners told Depp the company was "not a bank" but they did help him secure a loan through Bank of America.
Mr Josh Mandel, Depp's former business manager, was also asked about the actor's financial circumstances.
Mr Mandel said he had become "extremely concerned" about Depp's financial situation in 2015.
There were "constant" conversations with Depp about curbing his spending, he said, but it "never seemed to happen".
"There was no followup," he added.
"It became clear over time that there were issues with alcohol and drugs," he said. "And that translated into more erratic behaviour."
Depp was spending US$300,000 a month on full-time staff at one point and another US$100,000 a month on a doctor and nurses employed to ensure his sobriety, he said.
Mr Mandel estimated that Depp made around US$600 million during the decades that he represented him.
He was fired by Depp in 2016 and subsequently sued by the actor. They settled the case in 2018.
Ms Jacobs was also fired by Depp in 2016.
Asked why Depp fired her, Ms Jacobs said: "I really don't know. All I know is that he terminated essentially everyone in his life."
Depp's lawyers have put experts on the stand who testified that the actor lost millions because of the domestic abuse accusations, including a US$22.5-million payday for a sixth instalment of Pirates Of The Caribbean.
Depp filed the defamation complaint in the United States after losing a separate libel case in London in November 2020 that he brought against The Sun for calling him a "wife-beater".
Depp, a three-time Oscar nominee, and Heard met in 2009 on the set of The Rum Diary and were married in February 2015. Their divorce was finalised two years later.
Judge Penney Azcarate has scheduled closing arguments in the case for May 27, after which it will go to the jury.