Since his defamation trial, many have wondered about what Winona Ryder’s response to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s domestic violence case has been and what she’s said about his relationship with her.
Depp and Ryder dated from 1989 to 1993. Their relationship was so serious that Depp even tattooed “Winona Forever” on his right arm. He changed the tattoo to “Wino Forever” after their split. Depp and Ryder’s relationship came almost 20 years before his marriage to Heard. Depp and Heard met in 2009 while filming their 2011 movie, The Rum Diary. They started dating in 2012 after his split from Vanessa Paradis, whom he shares two children with: daughter Lily-Rose and son Jack. Depp and Heard married in 2015. After 15 months of marriage, Heard filed for divorce in 2016. She obtained a temporary restraining order against Depp, claiming that he abused her while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Depp denied the accusations, and a $7 million settlement was reached out of court in August 2016. Heard pledged to donate the money to the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. “Our 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,” the two said in a joint statement at the time.
In 2018, Heard wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post about her experience with domestic abuse. While she didn’t mention Depp by name, many believed that the post was about her ex-husband. Depp sued Heard for defamation in 2019, claiming that the op-ed cost him acting jobs, including his role in Walt Disney Pictures’ Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The trial for the case started in 2022. While Ryder hasn’t spoken out about Depp’s recent trial with Heard, she did issue a statement in 2020 when Depp sued British newspaper The Sun for defamation after the publication called him a “wife beater.” Read on for how Winona Ryder’s response to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s abuse case and what her relationship with him was like.
What was Winona Ryder’s response to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s abuse case?
What was Winona Ryder’s response to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s abuse case? Ryder responded to Heard’s domestic violence allegations against Depp in a 2016 interview with Time, where she called the idea that Depp would hurt Heard “unimaginable.” “I can only speak from my own experience, which was wildly different than what is being said,” she said at the time. “He was never, never that way towards me. Never abusive at all towards me. I only know him as a really good, loving, caring guy who is very, very protective of the people that he loves.”
She continued, “I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened. I’m not calling anyone a liar. I’m just saying, it’s difficult and upsetting for me to wrap my head around it. Look, it was a long time ago, but we were together for four years, and it was a big relationship for me. Imagine if someone you dated when you were—I was 17 when I met him—was accused of that. It’s just shocking. I have never seen him be violent toward a person before.”
Ryder also released a witness statement to the court in 2020 confirming that she never experienced any abuse in her relationship with Depp. “I understand that it is very important that I speak from my own experience, as I obviously was not there during his marriage to Amber, but, from my experience, which was so wildly different, I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him,” she said. “The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved.”
She continued, “I cannot wrap my head around these accusations. He was never, never violent towards me. He was never, never abusive at all towards me. He has never been violent or abusive towards anybody I have seen. I truly and honestly only know him as a really good man – an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy who was so very protective of me and the people that he loves, and I felt so very, very safe with him. I do not want to call anyone a liar but from my experience of Johnny, it is impossible to believe that such horrific allegations are true. I find it extremely upsetting, knowing him as I do.”
Depp and Ryder met at the premiere of Ryder’s movie, Great Balls of Fire!, in 1989, when Ryder was just 17 years old. They went on to star together in 1990’s Edward Scissorhands before they got engaged that same year. Around that time, Depp also famously tattooed “Winona Forever” on his right arm in honor of his then-fiancée. The two split in 1993 after four years together. “They’re young, and they grew apart,” a rep for Ryder told People at the time. Depp hinted to The Los Angeles Times at the time that the media attention was part of the reason his relationship with Ryder ended. “It’s very hard to have a personal life in this town. My relationship with Winona, it was my mistake to be as open as we were, but I thought if we were honest it would destroy that curiosity monster. Instead it fed it, gave people license to feel they were part of it,” he said.
After their split, Depp went on to change his “Winona Forever” tattoo to “Wino Forever.” “No, no, of course not,” he told Australia Tonight in 1993 about if he regretted the tattoo. “I think for me, these tattoos are a journal. As opposed to writing it on a piece of paper, I just took the initiative and put it on my skin. So I wear my journal. But even though we’re not together anymore, it doesn’t take away from the honesty of when I got the tattoo.”
In an interview with Elle U.K. in 2009, Ryder called her breakup with Depp her “first real breakup.” “I had just had my first real breakup, the first heartbreak,” she said about the time. “Everybody else just thought I had everything in the world but inside I was completely lost.”
Ryder also revealed in a past interview that she lost her virginity to Depp. “When I met Johnny, I was pure virgin,” she said. “He changed that. He was my first everything. My first real kiss. My first real boyfriend. My first fiancé. The first guy I had sex with. So he’ll always be in my heart. Forever.” Ryder also told Cinema.com about her depression after her and Depp ended their engagement. “I was very depressed after breaking off my engagement with Johnny. I was embarrassingly dramatic at the time, but you have to remember I was only 19 years old,” she said. She also revealed that things got so “dramatic” that she once “fell asleep with a lit cigarette, and woke up to the flames.”
A source also told Radar Online in 2014 that Ryder’s opinion of Depp changed after he started dating Heard. “[Winona] had a respectful relationship with Johnny for years [after their split], but she soured on any idea of an acting reunion after Johnny hooked up with Amber,” the insider said. The source explained that Ryder’s opinion of Depp changed because she believed he started dating Heard while he was still with Vanessa Paradis, with whom he shares daughter Lily-Rose and son Jack. “She’s pulled a 180 on her opinion of Johnny and his cronies because she thinks it’s a sad cliché that he’d dump his long-term baby mama for a woman in her twenties,” the insider said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) for confidential support.