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Paul Bettany on Johnny Depp texts going public: ‘We live in a world without context’

Paul Bettany has reflected on having his private texts with Johnny Depp made public as evidence in the US actor’s libel case against The Sun in 2020.

Depp sued the newspaper’s publisher after a 2018 headline labelled him a “wife beater”, in reference to his relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard. The court found the claim to be “substantially true”.

At a preliminary hearing ahead of the trial in February 2020, texts exchanged between Depp and Bettany in 2013 were read aloud.

In one text, Depp wrote, “Let’s burn Amber!!!” to which Bettany responded: “Having thought it through I don’t think we should burn Amber – she’s delightful company and easy on the eye, plus I’m not sure she’s a witch. We could of course try the English course of action in these predicaments ­– we do a drowning test. Thoughts?”

Depp responded: “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will f*** her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”

In a new interview, Bettany – who first addressed the messages in an interview with The Independent in December – said it was “embarrassing” to have the messages made public.

“And we live in a world without context,” he told The Times. “I didn’t know Johnny when he was married to Amber. I knew him before. But we hadn’t spoken for years. During the marriage I didn’t know them. So I wasn’t around for any of that.”

The actor, who was last seen in the BBC drama A Very British Scandal, said the court case “was a very surreal moment”, adding that he does not like discussing it. “Because I know how this works,” he said. “Anything that you say is oxygen for a fire. And there’s just no f***ing fire.

“The only real way to deal with this elegantly is to say: I’m not sure there’s anybody who has one of these devices [a mobile phone] that would feel comfortable having a team of lawyers scour their private text messages.”

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(Getty Images)

Bettany’s new comments come several months after he told The Independent: “It was a strange moment. What was strange about it was you suddenly have one of the most scabrous newspapers in London and their lawyers pouring through your texts for the last 10 years.

“Can you imagine what it would be like, honestly, to have a bunch of lawyers go through every one of your emails and texts for 10 years? All I can tell you is that it was an unpleasant feeling.”

Bettany has previously defended Depp against the allegations. In a 2016 Twitter post, the 50-year-old wrote: “Known Johnny Depp for years and through several relationships. He’s the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man that I’ve ever known. Just saying.”

Bettany and Depp starred together in 2014’s sci-fi thriller Transcendence as well as the action-comedy Mortdecai, which was released in 2015.

Bettany will next appear on stage, playing Andy Warhol in The Collaboration, which is on at the Young Vic until 2 April.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247, or visit their website here.

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