Amber Laura Heard (born April 22, 1986) is an American actress and model. Born and raised in Texas, she made her film debut in a minor supporting role in the sports drama Friday Night Lights (2004), followed by a series of other small roles in television and film. Her first leading role was in the horror film All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006), but it was not released in the United States until 2013 due to distribution problems. Her second major role came in the short-running The CW television series Hidden Palms (2007).
Heard's first starring role was playing the main character's love interest in The CW's teen drama Hidden Palms, which the network wanted to replace summer reruns of other series aimed for teenage audiences. The series premiered in the United States on May 30, 2007 to mixed to negative reviews. It was also unpopular with audiences, leading the CW to air only eight of the planned 12 episodes before canceling it. The same year, Heard also appeared in the short movie Day 73 with Sarah, the critically panned teen drama Remember the Daze, and an episode of the Showtime series Californication.
Heard gained more mainstream recognition in 2008, when she appeared in supporting roles in the Judd Apatow-produced stoner comedy Pineapple Express and the martial arts drama Never Back Down, both of which were box office successes. That year, she won a Breakthrough Award at the Hollywood Film Festival. Her other 2008 film releases were the critically panned Bret Easton Ellis adaptation The Informers, in which she was part of an ensemble cast, and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, an unconventional slasher film in which she had one of her first leading roles. Its director, Jonathan Levine, said he had chosen Heard for the title role because "there was a certain type of beauty and a certain type of innate intelligence that Amber brought to it that is not something you find every day. Certainly, not something you would find in somebody her age. The wisdom she projects I thought was pretty remarkable." Mandy Lane had already premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, and had been initially picked for distribution by Harvey Weinstein. After a negative test screening, Weinstein dropped the film, and it was then released in the United Kingdom in 2008 by a different distributing company. It did not have a theatrical release in the United States until 2013. The Los Angeles Times stated that Heard gave her most "definitive [performance] to date " in the film, and The Washington Post wrote that she gave a "psychologically interesting performance".
Heard's breakthrough came in 2008 with roles in the action film Never Back Down and in the stoner comedy Pineapple Express, which were both box office successes. The same year, she received the Breakthrough Award at Young Hollywood Awards. Heard continued her career with roles in films such as The Informers (2008), The Stepfather (2009), Zombieland (2009), and The Joneses (2009). In 2011, she played the female lead opposite Nicolas Cage in Drive Angry, and opposite Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary; neither were critically nor commercially successful. Subsequently, Heard appeared in 3 Days to Kill (2014), Magic Mike XXL (2015) and The Danish Girl (2015). She also starred in the indie film The Adderall Diaries (2015), the television musical drama One More Time (2015), and the Martin Amis adaptation London Fields (2018). The latter was due to be released in 2015, but became the subject of a series of lawsuit between its director, Heard, and the film's production company over disagreements in its editing and other issues. The film was finally released in 2018, and was both a critical and commercial flop.
Heard met Depp while filming The Rum Diary in 2009, and they began living together the following year. They were married in a private civil ceremony at their home in Los Angeles on February 3, 2015. In April 2015, Heard and Depp breached Australia's biosecurity laws when they failed to declare their two Yorkshire terriers to the Australian Customs Service when they flew by private jet into Queensland, where he was working on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Heard pleaded guilty to falsifying quarantine documents, stating that she had made a mistake due to sleep deprivation. She was placed on a $1,000 one-month good behavior bond for producing a false document; Heard and Depp also released a video in which they apologized for their behavior and urged people to adhere to the biosecurity laws. The Guardian called the case the "highest profile criminal quarantine case" in Australian history.
Heard was in a relationship with photographer Tasya van Ree from 2008 to 2012. In 2009, Heard was arrested in the state of Washington for misdemeanor domestic violence, allegedly after grabbing van Ree and hitting her arm. Ultimately, no charges were filed against Heard. The police lawfully deleted records of the arrest in 2011 after a request, but the King County District Court retained their own records. In 2016, van Ree defended Heard as the incident went public, stating that Heard had been "wrongfully" accused and that the incident had been "misinterpreted and over-sensationalized".
In 2009, Heard had roles in the critically panned horror film The Stepfather and in three comedies, the limited-release indie ExTerminators, the critically and commercially successful Zombieland, and the box office disappointment The Joneses. Although she otherwise received relatively little attention from established critics due to her roles being mainly supporting at this point, Variety wrote that "she steals the show" from the film's more established star, Demi Moore, in The Joneses. The following year, Heard starred in the indie drama The River Why and continued her work in the horror genre in John Carpenter's The Ward, which was a critical and commercial disappointment. Carpenter has later stated that he was disappointed in the film but "loved working with Amber and would work with her again without hesitation." She also co-produced and starred in the independent thriller And Soon the Darkness.
Heard publicly came out at GLAAD's 25th anniversary event in 2010, but has stated, "I don't label myself one way or another—I have had successful relationships with men and now a woman. I love who I love; it's the person that matters." Of her decision to come out, she said: "I think when I became aware of my role in the media, I had to ask myself an important question 'Am I part of the problem?' And I think that when millions and millions of hard-working, taxpaying Americans are denied their rights and denied their equality you have to ask yourself what are the factors that are an epidemic problem and that's what this is."
Heard's next role was as the female lead opposite Johnny Depp in the Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary (2011), which received mixed reviews and was not a commercial success. Heard's other 2011 film release was Drive Angry, a supernatural action thriller in which she was paired with Nicolas Cage. Although the film was critically panned and underperformed commercially, film critic Roger Ebert wrote that she "does everything that can possibly be done" with her character, a waitress who becomes entangled in an undead man's mission to save his daughter from a cult. In February 2011, Heard also appeared on the British television program Top Gear. Heard appeared in no new films until 2013, when she starred in the thriller Paranoia, the action-comedy Machete Kills, and the satirical drama Syrup. All three were critical and box office failures. Her only film release in 2014, the action-thriller 3 Days to Kill, was a box office success but panned by critics.
Heard has raised awareness about domestic and sexual violence. Together with actors Gabourey Sidibe and Freida Pinto, she read a speech on behalf of sexual assault victim Emily Doe at Glamour's Women of the Year Awards in 2016; Doe was the recipient of an award. Heard also made a public service announcement about domestic violence for the #GirlGaze Project, and has written about her experiences of domestic violence in the December 2016 issue of Porter magazine and in an op-ed for The Washington Post in December 2018. She has been an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ambassador for women's rights with a focus on gender-based violence since December 2018, and has also been named a Human Rights Champion for the Stand Up for Human Rights campaign by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In May 2019, she gave a speech in support of the SHIELD Act on Capitol Hill, discussing her experience of having had her private nude photos hacked and distributed online without her consent during the iCloud leaks of celebrity photos in 2014. On November 4, 2019, The New York Times published an op-ed written by Heard on the subject. In September 2019, she appeared at WE Day UN, an event arranged by WE Charity and UNAIDS.
In 2014, Heard was one of the victims of the iCloud leaks of celebrity photos, in which her private nude photos were hacked and distributed without her consent.
Heard had prominent roles in four films released in 2015, which led James Mottram of the British newspaper The Independent to call it a "watershed year" in her career. In the comedy-drama Magic Mike XXL she played a photographer who flirts with Channing Tatum's protagonist; like its predecessor, Magic Mike (2012), the film was a large box office success. Digital Spy described Heard as "a convincing girl-next-door type". Heard also had a small supporting role as a ballet dancer in Tom Hooper's critically successful historical drama The Danish Girl (2015), which premiered at the 72nd Venice Film Festival. In her third 2015 release, the independent crime thriller The Adderall Diaries, she starred opposite James Franco, Christian Slater, and Ed Harris. Indiewire gave the film a mixed review and stated that Heard was "miscast" but "displays much potential and has succeeded in a bid to be taken more seriously." Her fourth role in 2015 was opposite Christopher Walken in the television film One More Time, which aired on Starz. For her role as a struggling singer-songwriter, she took singing lessons and learned to play piano and guitar. International Business Times described Heard as "talented enough to share a few heartfelt moments in a character that mostly operates on the defensive." The Los Angeles Times called her performance "superb" and The Film Stage stated that Heard did an "admirable job".
In addition to her other roles in 2015, Heard played the female lead in the Martin Amis adaptation London Fields, which was initially scheduled to premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. It was pulled from the festival roster after director Mathew Cullen sued the film's producers, accusing them of fraud and of using his name to promote a cut of the film he did not support. The film's stars, including Heard, had also written to the producers, objecting to the cut that was seen at press and industry screenings in Toronto. London Fields and Heard's performance received highly negative reviews, and she stated that "it was one of the most difficult movies to film and it has proven to continue to be difficult...I can't say I did her [the character] justice." In November 2016, Heard was sued by the film's producers for $10 million, claiming that she and Cullen made unauthorized changes to the film's script and failed to finish voice-over work. Heard countersued claiming the producers violated a nudity clause in her contract. In September 2018, a settlement was reached, and London Fields was released, becoming a box office failure and earning Heard a nomination for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress.
Heard filed for divorce from Depp on May 23, 2016, and obtained a temporary restraining order against him, stating in her court declaration that he had been verbally and physically abusive throughout their relationship, usually while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In response, Depp denied those accusations, and through his representatives, alleged that she was "attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse." Heard testified about the abuse under oath at a divorce court deposition. Evidence of the alleged abuse from her court filings was also published in the media. A settlement was reached on August 16, 2016, and the divorce was finalized in January 2017. Heard dismissed the restraining order, and the former couple issued a joint statement saying 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." Depp paid Heard a settlement of US$7 million, which she donated to the ACLU and the Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
In 2017, Heard appeared as part of an ensemble cast in Lake Bell's indie comedy I Do... Until I Don't and joined the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) cast as Mera, Aquaman's Atlantean queen, in the superhero film Justice League. She reprised the role the following year in Aquaman (2018), which co-starred Jason Momoa, Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe and marked Heard's first major role in a studio film. She has stated that one of the reasons attracting her to the part was Mera being "a strong, independent, self-possessed superhero in her own right", who rejects being called Aquawoman instead of by her own name. Aquaman became the fifth most profitable release of 2018, and the most profitable DCEU installment up to that point. The same year, Heard was appointed global ambassador for cosmetics giant L'Oréal Paris.
In 2017, Heard acted as part of an ensemble cast in the indie film I Do...Until I Don't (2017) and made an appearance as Mera in the superhero film Justice League (2017). She reprised the latter role opposite Jason Momoa in Aquaman (2018), which became the most profitable DC Extended Universe film up to that point, and the fifth highest-grossing film of 2018. The same year, Heard was also named a global spokesperson for the cosmetics giant L'Oréal Paris. In 2019, she appeared in supporting roles in the independent films Her Smell and Gully.
In early 2019, Depp sued Heard for US$50 million for defamation over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018, which "depended on the central premise that Ms. Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mr. Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her". The fact that the piece did not specifically mention Depp by name is not disputed by either party. Depp also alleged that Heard had been the abuser, and that her allegations constituted a hoax against him; his legal team also published alleged evidence of Heard's abuse of Depp. In response, Heard said that Depp's claims are not true and repeated her allegations and evidence, maintaining that Depp was abusive towards her. She asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit—which Depp filed in Virginia, where the Post is located—so that the case could be tried in California (where most of the witnesses reside), but this request was denied.
In 2019, Heard played supporting roles in the independent dramas Her Smell and Gully. Her upcoming projects included the CBS All Access miniseries The Stand, based on Stephen King's eponymous novel and co-starring James Marsden, Odessa Young and Henry Zaga.
In addition to her acting career, Heard engages in activism for causes such as LGBTQ rights and domestic and sexual violence awareness. She is an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ambassador and has been named a Human Rights Champion for the Stand Up for Human Rights campaign by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. From 2015 to 2017, Heard was married to her The Rum Diary co-star Johnny Depp. Their divorce drew significant media attention as Heard alleged that Depp had been physically and verbally abusive towards her through most of their relationship. In 2019, he sued her for defamation after she discussed being a victim of domestic violence in the media, alleging that Heard had been the party in fact physically and verbally abusive towards him over the course of their relationship. Heard has denied these allegations.