Paul Bettany discusses his texts to Johnny Depp, which were revealed in court


Paul Bettany is currently promoting A Very British Scandal, which is the surprising dramatic series about historic sex scandals in the UK. Hugh Grant was in the first series, A Very English Scandal, about Jeremy Thorpe, a closeted Labour MP who had a very public row with his much-younger ex-lover. In A Very British Scandal, Bettany plays the Duke of Argyll and Claire Foy plays his estranged wife. The scandal is: sex, affairs, blackmail and revenge p0rn. Bettany chatted with The Independent about his career and involuntarily being part of Johnny Depp’s libel case and a lot more. Some highlights:

Taking time off when his children were born: “I finished filming [the 2004 romantic comedy] Wimbledon and my baby was just born so I decided that I was going to take two years off,” he says. By then, Bettany was on track for what seemed like an inevitable ascent. Surely, he could afford to take his foot off the pedal for a moment. It turns out that he couldn’t. When he came back, people had moved on. “It was hard to find work, then the financial crash happened and I made a lot of decisions that were based on ‘Holy s***, I have a mortgage. I have two kids. I gotta make money’.”

On some of the work he took on for the money: He realises now that some of these choices “denigrated the brand” and made it that much harder to get work. In 2013, when a big-time producer told Bettany he’d never work again, he was disheartened enough to believe him. But this kind of career upheaval had its benefits, too. “It’s made me not take work for granted so much. And I’m a bit more relaxed. You just don’t know what’s going to happen next so just f****** relax about it. Anyway, life is curly and I got very lucky.”

His 8-year-old brother Matthew died when Bettan was 16: “It exploded our family. I had a real psychological break there.” Now, when he needs to summon sadness he’ll think of Matthew. He’ll bring “a piece of memorabilia” to set, like his sibling’s old sweater, and bundle it up somewhere near the camera, so that it’s in his eyeline but out of the shot. It’ll make him sob. Bettany knows it isn’t healthy. “It’s madness. I’m 50 years old now and still keeping these wounds fresh. I do it – and I really do mean this – because I’m just not good enough to do it imaginatively in the moment. I used to be able to do it and then go out clubbing,” he says. These days a script will come along, which requires this kind of self-flagellation and he’ll consider it carefully “because I know that it’s going to be a couple of days spent digging myself out of that feeling”.

The 2013 texts between himself & Johnny Depp: Some of the messages were obscene and graphic. They joked about drowning Heard as a means to prove she wasn’t a witch. A barrister on the case referred to Bettany as Depp’s “drug buddy”. What he will say on the subject is that having his private messages aired in public was a peculiar experience. For Bettany, it shattered his notions of privacy. For others, the nastiness of the texts shattered any preconceptions of the actor. “It was very strange. 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 was that it was an unpleasant feeling.”

[From The Independent]

Granted, I didn’t read through all of the texts between Bettany and Depp, but what I did read, Bettany was not really egging on Depp or part of Depp’s plans to harass and destroy Amber Heard. It was more like Bettany was… placating Depp? I guess that’s the word I’ll use. Like, it’s when you know your friend is crazy and on drugs, and you’re basically going “uh huh” and “yeah, that sucks” or “wow” to everything they say. That was just my vibe, maybe I’m totally wrong. Bettany also references how he’s lived in America – New York – since the 1990s because he “fell in love with an American by mistake,” meaning Jennifer Connelly. He said that in defense of his Britishness.

'Solo: a Star Wars Story' photocall, 71st Cannes Film Festival, Cannes 15 May 2018

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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65 Responses to “Paul Bettany discusses his texts to Johnny Depp, which were revealed in court”

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  1. girl_ninja says:

    Yikes. That’s all.

  2. Wilma says:

    You should read the texts then, they were nauseating and went a lot farther than placating Depp.

    • milliemollie says:

      Yes, this was his answer to Depp’s suggestion to burn Amber Heard:

      “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?”

      He wasn’t just placating Depp, he was totally into it.

      • Chaine says:

        Exactly. He came off as a complete sociopath in the texts to Depp. Which is borne out now, since instead of apologizing for engaging so enthusiastically in such an appalling conversation, he is just irritated that the public learned about it.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        He was actively and willingly participating in this back and forth.

        When I had friends that were intoxicated and they said dumb things to me I didn’t respond or told them to sober up. Placating is a weak excuse.
        And if he needed to placate because he felt Depp was dangerous… call the police.

      • Robert says:

        Oh please. Everyone and I’m including you has said crap about people they didn’t like that in a court of law would look pretty damning. It’s human nature. And according to shrinks it a good thing. Your getting your aggression out through your words and not your actions. When your that upset you should scream and moan, and bitch and grip and get it out. It’s the people who keep it in that end up actually doing things to others.

      • milliemollie says:

        I can proudly say that I never said or wrote that I wanted to burn or drown someone.
        This sounds like an excuse for people to be able to say all kinds of horrible things.

      • Coco says:


        Ya because abusers never kill their victims.

        Just because you fantasize about raping and killing your ex’s with other people doesn’t mean everyone else does.

      • WithTheAmerican says:

        Wow Robert. I’ve never written that I wanted to drown someone. Or anything else equivalent.

        Might need to look at that.

      • Mf says:

        See, this does sound like placating to me. Bettany’s basically making light of it to get Depp to chill. “Haha, I’m going along with the joke but maybe let’s not burn Amber.”

        Obviously Bettany should’ve called him on this ugliness but I do think he was trying to placate him.

      • Nikki* says:

        I agree with mf. There were 2 ways to sentence witches: burning or drowning. I think since Depp said she was a witch and should be burned, Bettony was making light of it and proposing an alternate. I VERY MUCH think he was trying to placate Depp only; it’s obviously not seriously imagining wanting to drown Amber Heard.

      • whatWHAT? says:


        “oh please”, indeed.

        “Everyone and I’m including you has said crap about people they didn’t like that in a court of law would look pretty damning.”

        I can honestly say that I have never threatened to or mused about burning someone, drowning someone, r*ping their corpse, etc. if you have, you should probably talk to someone about that. I’ve talked crap, but it’s more along the lines of “she’s such a b*tch” or “she’s the worst”.

        “Your getting your aggression out through your words and not your actions. When your that upset you should scream and moan, and bitch and grip and get it out.”

        screaming and moaning, and bitching and griping is not quite the same as musing about maiming or killing someone. I’ve certainly said things like “f*ck you!” but I haven’t ever been like “I’m going to burn her! Drown her!” again, if you have, you should probably talk to someone about that.

        “It’s the people who keep it in that end up actually doing things to others.” Patently untrue. but keep telling yourself that if it helps mitigate your murderous thoughts.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        I agree, that is not “placating,” that is gleefully participating in the fantasy of killing a woman because you’re mad at her. Obviously, I don’t think he would actually kill Heard — but I believe he enjoyed the “joke” about killing her, which is horrible. And instead of apologizing, he tries to make HIMSELF the victim.

        And all of this is especially nauseating because Heard was the victim of ABUSE. Joking about killing a woman you’re mad at is bad enough, but joking about killing the victim of domestic abuse is unforgivable. Even now, he shows no sympathy for the victim of the abuse, just irritation that he is getting bad press. What a miserable human being.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        “I can honestly say that I have never threatened to or mused about burning someone, drowning someone, r*ping their corpse, etc. if you have, you should probably talk to someone about that.” This, and you’re so right about the rest of it too. What is this idea that *a certain demographic* needs to be able to say things like that without condemnation in order to prevent them from comitting violent crimes? There’s been more than one situation it’s been discovered that some violent criminal was already talking like that online or elsewhere before the violence started.

  3. Ariel says:

    Regarding things written about dell’s abuse victim, Ms Heard, I feel 0% sorry for poor Paul Bettany. Yuck.

  4. H says:

    I always liked Paul as an actor, but after reading the texts to Depp, unless it’s a Marvel movie with plenty of other actors, I won’t be watching it.

    One of my favorite movies of Paul’s is Priest, which is one of the movies I think he was talking about when he said he took it for the money.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      Priest had the makings of a great action/fantasy film, but it was lacking in so much. I wish it was better and there was a sequel.

  5. DuchessL says:

    Their texts were horrible. Not just uh huh, that’s crazy or wow, but they were also very mean. Those 2 were very close, you can sense by the laughing tone they take with each other. Mocking Amber and joking about the situation which made it so much worst for them. I was surprised men would act that way at that age, felt very high schooly. Not a good look. On the other hand, his wife Jennifer Connelly is the most beautiful woman.

  6. Anon says:

    Read the texts, they were gross.

    • skittlebrau says:

      Yup. Disgusting. I’m surprised it wasn’t more of a scandal but maybe he isn’t well-known enough. I used to LOVE Paul Bettany but this has totally changed my opinion of him.

  7. Catherine says:

    No regrets about the actual content of the texts. That’s vile. Placating is when you say oh yes that person is awful; she wronged you. Joking about specific violent acts is despicable especially when you consider that Bettany knew Depp well enough to know he was a drug user and he had a temper. You would think that at the very least he would say he shouldn’t have texted it. The fact that he showed no awareness of how awful the texts were says a lot about him.

    • Tisme says:

      @Catherine- thank you. Exactly.

    • lucy2 says:

      I know! Not a single “I said some terrible things in the moment which I now regret” type of comment, just how “unpleasant” it is that his private conversation was made public. Yeah, because now we can see what type of person he is, or at the very least, can be.

      I’ve had a few friends go through really bitter divorces, and I too have let them rant a bit and say things they wouldn’t necessarily want published, but I can safely say I’ve never encouraged that kind of talk, or suggested someone be drowned. He was feeding into Depp’s anger and violence, and it’s gross.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Yes. He made it all about what a crazy and personally inconvenient experience it was for people to focus on what was said, instead of the fucked up and dangerous things said.

  8. sa says:

    The thing is before the text came out he made public comments disparaging people who believed Heard. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was along the lines of knowing what a good guy Depp was.

    So the texts showed that he wasn’t just ignorant or naïve in his defense of Depp, but actively lying and covering for him.

  9. Jules says:

    He sounds like he’s playing the victim to me. Oh poor me, my texts were made public.

  10. whatWHAT? says:

    here’s a thought.

    don’t say/text/email horrible things and you won’t have to worry what those BAD BAD lawyers read in your records.

    • AMA1977 says:

      This, all day. I’m married to an attorney and am a paralegal myself, and the credo in my household is “never put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want published on the front page of the New York Times.” I have seen some CRAZY stuff in writing.

      Also, I would be heartbroken if I found out that my husband had said things of this nature about another woman. This isn’t just “yeah, she’s a b!tch!” or whatever standard “supporting a friend” BS. It’s vile and violent, and the excuse of “just words” doesn’t cut it. Paul is responsible for Paul’s actions, but I can’t help but think that all of the evil and hatred inside Depp curdles anything or anyone it touches.

  11. A says:

    Even if those texts were just ‘placating’ Depp, the one statement he’s made is essentially saying the harm those texts caused was
    a) to Paul Bettany and
    b) done by making them public.
    Surely no one has to read any of those texts to know that isn’t true, it’s extremely gross, and it’s hugely self-centered.

  12. Truthiness says:

    “Fell in love with an American by mistake.” How does Jennifer and their kids feel about that?

    • Amy Bee says:

      I think that him trying to convey that he didn’t abandon the UK. The press gets upset when a top white celebrity leaves and goes to live in the US.

      • vs says:

        How many British actors or musicians or artists overall live in the US? a lot of them
        There is a trend…..I guess no one is asking why those people choose to live in the US. If we only talk about what the US market represents in the world….let’s not mention the “wonderful” UK press; I will stop there….in here some of them have to deal with politics, racism, sexism but also opportunities. You can cultivate a following of Maga if you want or l***k orange man “a double snake” or Not….

    • Sinead says:

      I dunno but it’s gross to me because I read it as him meeting an amazing woman like JC and thought ‘doesn’t matter if she’s amazing coz she’s not English and I am, therefor I’m superior’

    • Chlo says:

      That’s British humor and a joke.

  13. Amy Bee says:

    He can do two things at the same time: Own up to his wrongdoing and apologise in his part in the texts and condemn the Sun for the invasion of his privacy.

    • Winnie says:

      What invasion of privacy? The Sun is scum, but Johnny Meth’s lawyers literally sent the Sun’s lawyers an archive of live hundreds of thousands of texts accidentally.

    • Coco says:

      Where did he own up to what he did? Only thing he did was make his self the victim that he’s not.

  14. Sinead says:

    Oh no. I didn’t know any of this. I only discovered him in Wanda Vision and I thought he was great. I’m so disappointed. I’m not even going to read the texts coz his explanation above is terrible. I’d hate if anyone went through my texts too but even if I was placating someone like that ud surely find other texts the following day saying ‘you were in some state yesterday there was no talking to you, hope ur sober now’ or something… but I wouldn’t be agreeing with crazy stuff to placate someone, that comes off as encouragement.

  15. Lady Digby says:

    Paul is a good actor and was great as the repellent Duke in the BBC series. I was aware that drugs had played a big part in his life in his 20s before he met and married Jennifer. I was concerned about the ugly text messages and the reference to him as Depp’s drug buddy. I was concerned for Jennifer and the kids because I thought he’d cleaned up his act years ago.

  16. Emma says:

    His texts are far more than simply placatory. I think you’re being way too easy on him. I’m sure he never intended for the texts to become public, but it’s very revealing of how white men think of women (even white women) who aren’t submissive. Literally medieval trial by drowning for her like a witch. This isn’t remotely normal or acceptable.

    True, he didn’t actually beat up a woman (as far as we know), but this is the language of violence and cruelty, which is also harmful and aggressive. He’s enabling violence against women by minimizing it and laughing about it. He’s part of the problem.

  17. Mtec says:

    He wasn’t just placating. He was encouraging the texts and misogynistic conversation.

    I used to LOVE him after A Beautiful Mind and later when he married my then girl crush JC. Now i find him so repulsive.

  18. Jess says:

    Holy cow – his texts are gross. That’s inexcusable. I’m done with him.

  19. lunchcoma says:

    When I read the texts, I thought they were pretty gross. He’s not as bad as Depp, but that’s not saying much. And frankly, the fact that he continued to be so close to someone who was texting such gross, abusive things over a prolonged period reflects badly on him by itself.

    That being said, I don’t think his answer was horrible from a tactical point of view. He changed the subject, and probably did it smoothly enough that he won’t get hammered very hard.

    • JL says:

      Yeah, I’ve only seen some of the texts, but they were disgusting. And while I think I understand what the author means by “placating” (sometimes, it sounds like Bettany is trying to turn Depp’s *extra* horrifying comments into a joke), even the kindest, most generous explanation involves Bettany still chatting merrily away with an evil nutjob, and cheerfully vetoing the idea of him murdering and disfiguring his wife… because she’s good-looking, and that would be a waste.

      Is this how you want your kids to view you, Bettany?

  20. WithTheAmerican says:

    Never read his texts, thank dog because they sound gross, but sadly I heard so many men talk about women like this at work that I am so jaded now. There are men who don’t, but I don’t assume they don’t now.

    So glad I never liked Depp because wow is he ever a steaming pile of crap.

  21. Winnie says:

    He literally called Johnny Depp the “sweetest man” he knows while texting him about burning Amber’s body and having sex with her corpse.

  22. Haylie says:

    Nah. Paul is a complete scumbag.

  23. Mia4s says:

    OK I know this is not the point but….do people really keep their texts for TEN years?? Mine delete after a year. Sure I might screen shot one or two for sentimental reasons but, I’m kind of…what?

    • thinking says:

      That’s what I was wondering too. Did they go into a cloud to access his texts? Otherwise, I don’t really get how he could have been found out.

      Would he even want his wife to find these texts? I figured he’d delete them so his wife doesn’t assume he’s a nutcase. I wonder if she’s disappointed as to what he’s like when she’s not around. My common sense assumption is yes, but who knows in Hollywood.

    • lunchcoma says:

      Depp’s divorce was in 2016, and the texts were probably preserved as evidence then.

    • pandora says:

      I dont think they got the texts from his phone, I think they got it from the provider which stores it somewhere, like on cloud

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      I don’t know about texts, but I learned from “Veep” when Mike was testifying before congress that he deleted all the voice memos, he was told “but they still exist in the cloud”

  24. Barbie1 says:

    l’m surprised he didn’t say the texts were misleading and just an example of his dry british sense of humor. The “privacy” answer was all that he could come up with? What a weak evasive comment.

  25. Lila says:

    I think he’s hoping the readers haven’t looked too closely at the texts. The point he’s making, that anyone who has had 10 years worth of texts and emails read would have some embarrassing stuff come up, is valid. But normal people are going to have gossip, vents, etc…not discussions on how to MURDER other human being. Gross.

    • molly says:

      Exactly. If my 10 years of emails and text were made public, it would be embarrassing at work (crushes on coworkers) and hurt my mom’s feelings (vents with my sister), but at no point am I plotting the gruesome murder of a friend’s girlfriend.

  26. Gm says:

    An article about these texts referenced a public fight between him and Jennifer about picking the kids up? Anyone know more about this?

    • Em says:

      See, if this is all the articles were about, his statement would be totally appropriate. In the last decade, I’ve sent some cringey texts to ex-boyfriends and gotten in some very stupid fights with my current partner about mundane things. (But no, not the same as encouraging your abusive, d-bag friend.)

  27. Tisme says:

    How can you placate ABUSE or MURDER?

  28. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    His texts are nauseating. I think Bettany may be like Kate Winslet, where they are good actors so the public sees an “image” of them that covers up what nasty people they really are.

  29. Nikki* says:

    I agree with mf. There were 2 ways to sentence witches: burning or drowning. I think since Depp said she was a witch and should be burned, Bettony was making light of it and proposing an alternate. I VERY MUCH think he was trying to placate Depp only; it’s obviously not seriously imagining wanting to drown Amber Heard.

  30. Trish says:

    Idk who this guy is, but him and Depp are really stupid. Did they not know that you never write this kind of stuff down anywhere? It always comes back to bury you. I didn’t read the texts, but just what I heard here could have gotten both of them questioned by the police. Stupid. Famous people think they are invincible.

  31. Kkat says:

    I did a deep dive and just read a ton on the texts ect. What I saw numerous places was Amber didn’t like when Paul came over because of the booze and drugs. And because of that he didn’t like her. It sounds like he resented her.
    So I don’t feel he was placating Depp at all, I think he was a happy participant.

    It’s a shame because I loved him as a actor, especially in a beautiful mind . But he’s ruined for me now

  32. Coji says:

    I must be a horrible person because I’ve done similar shit talk with friends during rough breakups. Neither my friends nor I are psychopaths and there was never a chance of doing any of the horrible things. It was just catharsis. 🤷‍♀️

    • This wasn’t after their breakup though, if I’m remembering correctly he wrote this in 2013, before they were even married when she was still his girlfriend. They married in 2015 and broke up in 2016.