The A-listers were named by Heard’s legal team on its list of potential witnesses, with both due to appear via video link.
Heard began dating the Tesla founder around the time of her split with Depp in May 2016 and by August the following year they had broken up.
Meanwhile Franco was a close confidant of the actress, whom Depp suspected she was having an affair with.
But sources told The Independent that neither Musk nor Franco will take the stand as Heard’s legal team begin their defense next week.
No reason was given for their absence.
Under Virginia law there is no non-residents of the state can be forced to attend proceedings at the Fairfax County Circuit Court, either in person or via video-link.
If a witness decides not to participate lawyers can instead draw upon their deposition as evidence if one had been given.
In court this week, Depp’s former agent Christian Carino, confirmed Musk and Heard were in a relationship but said emails showed she never loved him.
Depp also told jurors he had suspected Franco and Heard were having an affair, echoing previous comments in which he said it was ‘highly likely’.
Elon Musk and James Franco will not testify at Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s bombshell defamation trial, sources have said
Franco was a close confidant of the actress, whom Depp suspected she was having an affair with
Heard is expected to take to the stand as soon as Monday with insiders saying the actress will be a ‘highly effective weapon’ in her $100million countersuit
In court this week, Depp’s former agent Christian Carino, confirmed Musk and Heard were in a relationship
It was also revealed that Musk covered nearly half of Heard’s $1.3million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union after she pledged to give her divorce settlement to charity.
Carino, a talent agent with mega agency CAA and Lady Gaga‘s ex-fiance, received emails from Heard describing her break-up from the billionaire CEO.
In an email on August 7, 2017, Heard told Carino: ‘Dealing with breakup. I hate when things go public. See I’m so sad.’
Carino said that he believed Heard was ‘referring to breaking up with Elon.’
Carino replied to Heard: ‘You weren’t in love with him. You told me 1,000 times you were just feeling space.’
Asked what he meant, Carino said: ‘Why would you be sad if you weren’t in love with him to begin with?’
One of Depp’s lawyers asked: ‘By him you’re referring to who?’
Carino said: ‘Elon.’
Johnny Depp’s former agent Christian Carino told the court about emails sent to him by Heard after she broke up with Elon Musk
Heard began dating the Tesla founder around the time of her split with Depp in May 2016 and by August the following year they had broken up
Heard’s next email read: ‘I know but I wanted time to grieve and recover in my own time.’
In another email in the same conversation she said: ‘I hate that, yet again a man lets me fall on the spikes by myself.’
Carino said: ‘How so?’
Heard emailed back: ‘They’re mad at me for leaving them and put things like this out there’, apparently referring to the story going public.
Carino responded: ‘You could avoid all this if you stop dating uber famous people.’
Asked what he meant in the email, Carino told the court he was trying to tell Heard: ‘If you don’t like being in the press about your personal life don’t date people that are famous.’
Carino told the court that Heard’s feelings for Depp lingered after she filed for divorce in May 2016 and that he believed she wanted to reconcile with him, even though she was dating Musk.
In an email on July 14 that year, Heard told Carino: ‘It’s so f**ked up I just want to tell him that what they’re telling him isn’t true.’
In an email sent to Carino around the same time, Heard said: ‘Please tell him I love him,’ referring to Depp.
The court heard that in the summer of 2016, Heard asked Carino to set up a meeting with Depp to talk things over.
At the time Depp was the subject of a temporary restraining order and Heard said she could ‘never accuse him of violating the order’ during their meeting, Carino said.
It took place in San Francisco where Depp was on tour with his band, The Hollywood Vampires, in the backyard of a friend’s house.
Carino said they were there for ‘several hours’ chatting until the owner of the house said he was coming back.
Depp also told jurors he had suspected Franco and Heard were having an affair, echoing previous comments in which he said it was ‘highly likely’ (pictured in 2016)
To continue the conversation they rented a hotel room but once there Depp and Heard ‘started arguing,’ Carino testified.
Carino said that he left at 5am the following morning – it wasn’t clear if the argument was still ongoing.
But the court has already heard chilling audio of Depp asking Heard to cut him with a knife, telling her: ‘You f**king hate me!’
Despite that, Heard’s feeling for Depp remained strong.
On August 16, 2017, Heard emailed Carino: ‘I’ve written so many notes, can you give him one? I don’t know how or where to start.
‘Finally I am single, clear in my heart and mind. I just want him to know I loved him.’
In a message on June 9, 2018 – six months before Heard wrote the op-ed which is the subject of the case – she messaged Carino: ‘God I miss him,’ referring to Depp.
Heard is expected to take to the stand as soon as Monday with insiders saying the actress will be a ‘highly effective weapon’ in her $100million countersuit.
Musk covered nearly half of Heard’s $1.3million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union
The trial, which started on April 11 and is set to last another three weeks, has so far seen Depp claim he was the victim of domestic abuse in his four days of testimony, with his bodyguard yesterday describing wounds on the actor’s face.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star is suing Heard for $50million, claiming she defamed him and ruined his career after a 2018 Washington Post article in which she described herself as a ‘public figure representing domestic abuse’, without naming her ex-husband.
Heard is countersuing for $100million, and after three weeks of sitting silently in the courtroom during Depp’s testimony, she is preparing to start her fight back when court resumes next week after a day off today.
Insiders told Deadline she could take to the stand as soon as Monday, unless a major revelation comes out during the closing statements in Depp’s case.
A source said: ‘It’s hard to see how Amber won’t prove to be a highly effective weapon against Depp in her own advocacy.
‘Regardless of how they have tried to characterize her, she has been nothing but well composed and pretty conservative in court without having said a word.’
Carino, a talent agent with mega agency CAA and Lady Gaga’s ex-fiance, appeared by a pre-recorded video deposition and confirmed that Heard and Musk were in a relationship for a time
Heard was not a party and did not take the stand in Depp’s 2020 libel claim against The Sun in the UK, which he lost.
The trial in the Fairfax County Courthouse runs Monday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm, and is set to conclude on May 19. Judge Penny Azcarate has a prescheduled conference from May 9 to 12 when the trial will pause for a week.
It was revealed yesterday that Musk covered nearly half Heard’s donation to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after the actress pledged to give away her multimillion dollar divorce settlement to charity.
Jurors heard the actress has so far only paid $1.3million of the $3.5million she promised the ACLU nearly six years ago, with Musk’s money making up a large chunk of it.
The entrepreneur, 50, gave $500,000 to the civil rights group on behalf of Heard after the two began dating after her divorce from Depp in 2016.
The Aquaman star, 36, announced she would donate the $7million she received in her settlement to two organizations when the couple’s legal separation was finalized in August 2016.
Heard promised to give half the money to the ACLU to support its work in ‘fighting violence against women’, and the other $3.5million to the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.
But Terence Dougherty, the ACLU Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, testified in the trial Thursday, telling the court the organizations’ promised donation has not been paid in full yet.
Dougherty said that so far only a total of $1.3million has either been paid by Heard or on her behalf.
Of that money, Heard contributed $350,000 directly, while $100,000 was paid by Depp and another $350,000 came from a fund at Fidelity, an investment company.
Another $500,000 payment came from an account at investment firm Vanguard, which Dougherty said he ‘believed it was a fund set up by Elon Musk.’
Asked by one of Depp’s lawyers if there were messages with Musk about it, Dougherty said there were.
He said there was a document and emails they had produced to the lawyers in the case regarding the money.
Dougherty said that based on emails with Musk, the ACLU understood that Heard’s $3.5million donation would be given over 10 years.
Heard had promised to donate her $7M divorce settlement to charity, splitting the funds between the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles
He said that Heard’s money was considered a ‘pledge’ so rather than a check all at once, it would come over time.
Heard’s lawyers have previously told the court that she fully intends to pay the money but for now needs the divorce settlement to pay her legal fees.
The court heard that Heard’s last donation of $350,000 in December 2018 and that she had not paid any money since.
Dougherty said that Heard had told the organization that money was from her anonymous account with Fidelity but they did not do any further checks to guarantee it was her money.
One of Depp’s lawyers asked Dougherty what ‘efforts the ACLU has made to get Amber Heard to pay’.
He replied: ‘We reached out to Miss Heard starting in 2019 for the next installment of her giving and we learned she was having financial difficulties’.
The court heard that Musk played a central role in setting up Heard’s donations to the ACLU, partly because he had given to it before.
In an email dated August 18, 2016, Musk wrote to Heard and Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU: ‘I described your (Heard’s) plan to donate $3.5million to the ACLU over the next 10 years as you very much believe in what they’re doing’.
The court heard that Robin Shulman, a communications strategist with the ACLU wrote the first draft of the op-ed in November 2018, a month before the article was published.
In a message to Heard dated November 29, 2018, Shulman said that she tried to ‘gather your fire and rage’ and shape it into an op-ed piece.
Asked if that meant rage against Depp, Dougherty said it was about ‘gender-based violence issues’.
In a follow up message, Shulman told Heard: ‘Our lawyers should review this for the way I skirted around your marriage’.
Jessica Weitz, another member of the ACLU communications team, told Heard: ‘I want to make sure nothing was said in here that puts you in jeopardy with your NDA’ with Depp after the divorce.
Shulman and Heard met in person and that op-ed was changed, the court heard.
Heard’s lawyers also made some edits.
One of Depp’s lawyers asked Dougherty: ‘Some at the ACLU expressed belief that excising references to the marriage and divorce from Johnny Depp made the op-ed less impactful?’
Dougherty said: ‘That is correct’.
Dougherty said that the ACLU had the responsibility of placing the op-ed and considered the New York Times, Washington Post, Teen Vogue and USA Today as places where it could go.
As Dougherty put it, the list was in ‘descending importance and reach as we go down’, but with a greater likelihood they would publish it.
Gerry Johnson, one of the ACLU communications team, emailed his colleagues about timing the op-ed so it would come out at the same time as the premiere of Aquaman, the film Heard was starring in.
Johnson wrote: ‘Since draft turned out pretty strong and Aquaman slated to do large numbers I’m wondering what you think about it?’
Actor Amber Heard returns following a break at the Fairfax County Circuit Court Thursday, April 28, 2022
Depp, 58, had previously accused his ex-wife of lying about giving all of her divorce settlement to charity
Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a ‘public figure representing domestic abuse’
Dougherty said that media outlets were more likely to take on an op-ed if it had ‘strong views’ and the more the person was in the public eye at the time, the ‘more likely it will be accepted by a more prominent media outlet’.
Depp’s lawyers asked Dougherty if Heard’s marriage to Depp made the op-ed a ‘stronger product’.
Dougherty said: ‘Amber’s contributions to the portion of op-ed that talks about personal experiences is what informed the view this was a strong op-ed’.
One of Depp’s lawyers asked: ‘She wanted the op-ed to come out just after Aquaman release?’
Dougherty said: ‘I recall there was a conversation for optimal timing’
Dougherty added that it was ‘correct’ that Heard wanted the article to come out just after the Aquaman release.
On December 11 2018, Witz emailed her colleagues that Heard’s team had sent back a final draft but it ‘neutered much of her marriage and domestic violence’.
Witz said that the goal was the ‘get this out this week to capitalize on the tremendous campaign for Aquaman’, referring to the publicity surrounding the film.
In follow up emails, Witz said that Heard wanted to get a mention of her getting a restraining order back into the article.
Witz said: ‘Is there an artful way to to do that?’
Such a mention did not make it into the final cut.
Around that time, Stacey Sullivan, another member of the ACLU’s communications pitched the the article to Michael Duffy, an editor at the Washington Post.
Emails shown in court Thursday revealed Johnny Depp contributed towards Heard’s $3.5million pledge to the ACLU
The email said: ‘Hey Michael, wondering if we might interest you in an op-ed by Amber Heard ‘Who as you may recall was beaten up during her brief marriage to Johnny Depp’
Once it had been agreed the article would be published, Heard emailed her team and the ACLU: ‘It’s going to the Washington Post!!!’
The court also heard about the panic within the ACLU how in 2019 Reuters inquired about how much Heard had paid of her $3.5m pledge.
In an email to colleagues, Witz insisted that Heard had ‘donated her full settlement to charity’ but investigations revealed she had only paid $1.3m
As Witz and her colleagues struggled to phrase a statement to Reuters, she emailed her colleagues: ‘I had nightmares about this last tonight, do you think this is OK?’
Depp’s lawyers asked if Witz was ‘concerned the ACLU was not telling the truth?
As Depp looked on and smiled, Dougherty said: ‘She was doing everything she could to give a correct statement to the press’.