"Absolutely," the Aquaman actress said in part two of her interview with Today's Savannah Guthrie on Wednesday. "I love him. I loved him with all my heart. And I tried the best I could to make a deeply broken relationship work. And I couldn't. No bad feelings or ill will towards him at all. I know that might be hard to understand or it might be really easy to understand, if you've ever loved anyone it should be easy."
Those words may come as a surprise in the wake of allegations exchanged during the couple's defamation trial. She accused "monster" Depp of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Pirates of the Caribbean actor vehemently denied that, claiming she was abusive toward him during their four-year relationship.
On June 1, a Fairfax, Va., jury found that Heard defamed Depp, from whom she filed for divorce in 2016, in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about surviving domestic abuse — despite not naming him directly in the article. Depp, who said his career was ruined by the story, was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages (the latter reduced to $350,000 per state guidelines). The jury awarded Heard, who countersued, $2 million in compensatory damages stemming from her lawyer calling her abuse allegations a hoax.
Guthrie — who previously disclosed that her husband, Michael Feldman, did consulting work for Depp's legal team — continued to grill Heard in the second part of the interview. During the conversation, Heard said she knows she's not a "perfect victim" and admitted she's "scared" Depp will sue her again for speaking out.
"I took for granted what I assumed was my right to speak," Heard said. "I'm scared that no matter what I do, no matter what I say, or how I say it, every step that I take will present another opportunity for this sort of silencing, which is what, I guess, a defamation lawsuit is meant to do. It’s meant to ... take your voice."
Heard insisted the "op-ed wasn't about my relationship with Johnny. What the op-ed was about was ... me loaning my voice to a bigger cultural conversation that we were having at the time," amid the #MeToo movement. "I obviously knew it was important for me not to make it about him. Or to do anything like defame him," which is why she had "teams of lawyers" review "all the drafts" prior to publication.
She denied that her goal was to have Depp canceled — as many other high-profile men of that era had been — saying, "Of course not. Of course not. It wasn’t about him."
Guthrie brought up a text message Depp sent vowing "total global humiliation" for Heard after their split and asked if she felt "that came true?"
"I know he promised it," she replied. "I'm not a good victim, I get it. I'm not a likable victim. I'm not a perfect victim. But when I testified I asked the jury to just see me as human and hear his own words which is a promise to do this. It feels as though he has."
Heard said she initially didn't want Depp's alleged abuse "to be known" publicly — or to "get him in trouble" — so she didn't initially cooperate with police. However, when she did seek the restraining order against Depp days later in 2016, she did so because, "I made the decision to stand up for myself and protect myself."
She also denied, again, staging the photo-op with an alleged Depp bruise when she got the restraining order, which a former TMZ reporter testified about during the trial.
"He certainly didn't get tipped off by me or anyone [I know]," she said. "It had nothing to do with me."
About the bruises, which she has been accused of faking with makeup, she said, "Again, it's that thing: If you have bruising, if you have injuries, it's fake. If you don't any, then you weren't injured."
Guthrie also asked about Heard claiming she donated the $7 million she received in her Depp divorce settlement to charity, when she just pledged it, and whether she thought that hurt her credibility with the jury who maybe thought she had been "caught in a lie."
"I don't know because so much of the trial was meant to cast dispersions on who I am as a human, my creditability, to call me a liar in every way you can..." Heard said, before Guthrie jumped in, saying, "That was the trial. It was a credibility contest."
Heard said she shouldn't have had donate it all in the first place "in an effort to be believed" that she's a victim of abuse. Guthrie replied, "You shouldn't have, but once you said you did..."
It was noted Heard still plans to honor her pledge, splitting the $7 million between two charities: ACLU and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA), but no timetable was given.
As for what's next for Heard — who was slammed on social media during the U.S. trial with Depp getting loads of support — she said, "I get to be a mom full-time, where I’m not having to juggle calls with lawyers,” she said of Oonagh Paige Heard, 1.
What will she one day tell the child about this era of her life? "I think no matter what, it will mean something," she answered, "I did the right thing. I did everything I could to stand up for myself and the truth."
Depp was seeking $50 million in his Virginia defamation lawsuit against Heard while she countersued for $100 million. Prior to the U.S. trial, which captivated the country, the High Court of London ruled against Depp in a separate defamation case stemming from Depp suing The Sun for reporting on the abuse allegations. It was ruled in 2020 that is not libelous to call Depp a "wife beater" in an article because the "great majority of alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp," 12 of 14 incidents, "have been proved to the civil standard."
On Tuesday, it was reported that Heard had been cut from Aquaman 2, but her rep called the report "inaccurate and slightly insane."
More of Heard's interview with NBC News will air in a special Dateline on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.