A new romance. Johnny Depp is dating lawyer Joelle Rich, who represented him in his U.K. libel lawsuit against The Sun, Us Weekly can exclusively confirm.
“Their chemistry is off the charts,” an insider exclusively tells Us of the Pirates of the Caribbean star, 59, and the attorney. “It’s serious between them. They are the real deal.”
Rich was one of the lawyers who worked on Depp’s case against the U.K. newspaper after he sued the outlet for libel in 2018, but she was not part of the legal team who represented him in his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard earlier this year. She was, however, present in the Virginia courtroom to show her “support” for the Oscar nominee.
“There was no professional obligation for her being there. It was personal,” the source tells Us, adding that the duo “discreetly” met up in hotels during the early stages of their romance.
The insider notes that Rich was married when she met Depp, but is now divorcing her husband. She and her estranged spouse share two children.
During his defamation trial against Heard, 36, rumors swirled that the Hollywood Vampires musician was dating a different lawyer: Camille Vasquez, who was one of the attorneys representing him in that case. The Southwestern Law School graduate, 38, later slammed “sexist” speculation about her relationship with Depp.
“It’s also an unethical charge being made,” Vasquez told People in June. “It’s unfortunate and it’s disappointing, but at the same time it kind of comes with the territory. I can’t say I was all that surprised.”
Depp and Heard’s marriage, which ended in 2017, was the subject of two separate lawsuits filed by the Secret Window actor. The Kentucky native first sued The Sun in June 2018 after the newspaper referred to him as a “wife beater” in an article about his involvement in the Fantastic Beasts film series. The article cited allegations Heard previously made detailing several instances of abuse ahead of her 2016 split from Depp.
The trial finally began in July 2020 after delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Four months later, the U.K.’s High Court of Justice ruled that The Sun‘s article was not libelous because the Aquaman star’s claims about her ex-husband’s alleged abuse were “substantially true.”
In March 2021, the court denied Depp’s request for an appeal in the case. At the time, Rich told Deadline that she “seriously questioned” the U.K. judge’s decision, adding that her client was looking forward to “presenting the complete, irrefutable evidence of the truth in the U.S. libel case against Ms. Heard where she will have to provide full disclosure.”
The U.S. trial began in April, three years after Depp sued Heard over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in which she described herself as a victim of domestic violence. In June, the jury ruled in favor of the Edward Scissorhands actor, ordering the Texas native to pay her ex-husband $10.35 million in damages. Heard was also awarded $2 million in compensatory damages after the jury found that one of Depp’s lawyers had made one defamatory statement about her.
“From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome,” Depp told Us in a statement after the verdict was delivered. “Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
Representatives for Depp and Rich could not be reached for comment.