Roughly two dozen people gathered at 6 AM on Tuesday in the front of the Fairfax County Courthouse. Nearly an hour later, that line had more than doubled in size. The group of 50 in line weren’t here because they were summoned for jury duty or had to pay a traffic ticket. They were eagerly waiting to gain access to witness a highly publicized court proceeding that involves Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
Entering its second week, the defamation trial is expected to last six weeks. Depp is suing Heard, his former wife, for $50 million in damages, claiming Heard insinuated he abused her in a 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post, although she did not name Depp in it. Heard is countersuing for $100 million, also claiming defamation.
Since April 11, many spectators–many of them Depp supporters–have flocked to Fairfax and lined up for hours, according to the Washington Post. Though far from the limelight and glitz and glamor of Hollywood, the court case has been anything but drama-free. The New York Post reported last week that two Depp fans were kicked out of the courtroom for alleged online threats toward Heard.
Still, with Depp expected to testify Tuesday, a mix of people from the Washington area and across the world stood in the cold Monday and Tuesday to get a wristband that would guarantee entry into the trial courtroom, which allows only 100 spectators, including press. We chatted with some of the people waiting in line about why they came out to the courthouse:
Samir Alimova, 18, Loudoun
Alimova and his friends spontaneously decided to drive down Monday to the courthouse at 4 AM. It was the last day of spring break for the high school senior, and this was a chance to be in the same room as Depp, one of his favorite actors. He says it was interesting to see Depp not treated as a celebrity in a court setting. “You have this guy who’s won countless awards,” he says, “and he’s sitting right in front of you just 20 feet away, same as you are.”
Netra Bhatt, 21, Howard County
Tuesday was Bhatt’s third venture out to the Fairfax courthouse. She says there was little to no line during her first trip to the courthouse on the second day of the trial. Now with the line reaching over 50 people, she says she’s nervous she won’t be able to make the cut. “I’ve been his fan for years and if I don’t make it in today, I’m gonna be heartbroken,” she says.
Meghan Butler, 29, Fairfax
Butler has been watching the case everyday via Court TV but says she decided to head to the courthouse once she learned Depp would take the stand. She arrived at 6 AM. If she is granted access to the courtroom, she jokingly hopes to see Depp rocking a ponytail, adding that she believes “Depp will be very confident and personable on the stand, no doubt.”
Yvonne De Boer, 59, Los Angeles
De Boer has been at the courthouse since the first day of the trial. As a die-hard fan of Depp for 36 years, De Boer says she has gotten to meet Depp in person a couple of times in her life. With another opportunity to be in the same room as Depp, she is typically in line at two or three in the morning, but today she says she was first in line at 1:45 AM. “It’s extremely cold and uncomfortable,” she says, “but I go through it for him.”
Jacinta Gillespie, 52, Brisbane, Australia
Gillespie arrived last week from Down Under to catch a glimpse of a case that she says she has been following for years. She says she hardly has seen any of Depp’s movies and wouldn’t call herself a fan, but is here to support Depp because “he represents a lot of male victims.”
JJ Wile, 18, Loudoun
Wile, who is friends with Alimova, says it was cool to see Depp and Heard in person as he is familiar with both their works. Wile says he went into the courtroom “leaning toward Depp but “over the next few hearings, seeing what is presented against Johnny will probably level that out. Personally, I’m trying to be pretty open minded.” Wile says he wished he didn’t have to wake up early, but the opportunity to see celebrities in the area is an opportunity too grand to miss; he and his friends are planning to head back a couple more times.