- Johnny Depp had a phone conversation with Instagram influencer Jessica Reed Kraus ahead of the defamation trial against Amber Heard, Kraus said.
- Kraus gained hundreds of thousands of followers as he announced the trial, often criticizing Heard.
- She told Insider that Depp’s famous friends called him during the trial.
During the trial of Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard, Jessica Reed Kraus diligently posted about it on Instagram.
Watching testimony from a courtroom in Fairfax County, Virginia, Kraus, with his hundreds of thousands of followers, posted daily updates with an undisguised pro-Depp perspective. Her support for the actor from the series “Pirates of the Caribbean” became a boon her account, @houseinhabit, which now has just under a million followers. That number has roughly doubled during the trial, according to Socialblade social media statistics.
Kraus revealed on Tuesday that she spoke to Depp at the start of the trial. During the hour-and-a-half conversation, he shared his “thoughts on the death of journalistic integrity” and told her he appreciated her work, Kraus wrote in a Substack post.
“I don’t know you,” he says, “but I know, only from the words you use and the aesthetics in your work, that I believe you,” Kraus wrote, quoting Depp. “It simply came to our notice then Rolling Stone article it damaged his reputation and ruined his trust in the media. A betrayal from which he has not yet recovered. “The widely read profile from 2018, for which Depp was interviewed, covered the actor’s legal and financial difficulties.
They also discussed Depp’s “propensity to believe the wrong people and the troubles this created for him at different periods during his life,” according to Kraus ’report.
Kraus wrote on Substack that she was connected to Depp through “Johnny’s old friend”, whom she met via Instagram. Kraus and a friend, whom she did not want to name, later met in person and spent time together during the trial, she told Insider. Sometimes she had to hear FaceTime calls between Depp and his friends.
During the trial, Kraus stayed at the same hotel as Depp’s legal team. At one point, she posted photos on Instagram Depp’s lawyer Benjamin Chew in a hotel elevator in shorts and a Hollywood vampire shirt.
She met Depp, Kraus told Insider, at a cocktail party held at the hotel after he testified and photographed him. A source close to Depp confirmed the veracity of Kraus’ photograph.
The defamation trial lasted six weeks, and details about Depp and Heard’s turbulent relationship and Hollywood lifestyle dominated the internet. As Depp and Heard came and went from the courthouse, crowds of Depp fans lined the street, holding signs and shouting words of support and encouragement.
Kraus said Depp did not understand the amount of attention the trial received.
“He’s so naive,” Kraus said. “In those phone calls, he didn’t even realize how viral every part of the trial was, because he’s not really on social media.”
Celebrities called Depp to contact him during the trial, Kraus said
Depp has so far not conducted any interviews with media organizations since the jury’s verdict in early June, although Chew and another of his lawyers, Camille Vasquez, have spoken to several media outlets. Heard sat down for interview with NBC News co-host Savannah Guthriewhere she said she believes more evidence could affect the jury to pass judgment more in her favor.
In their 90-minute conversation at the start of the trial, Kraus and Depp talked about their shared love of books, talking about Hunter S. Thompson and David Foster Wallace, she wrote in her post on Substack. He also told her to use a typewriter to write and outlined “a revolution that would involve burying our mobile phones and laptops in [sever] our obsessive dependence on them, “she wrote.
“Contrary to the accusations that will later nail me as a Die Depp male fan, I don’t know much about him, so these discoveries, no matter how small, are news to me,” Kraus wrote.
She also said that Depp was “bathed in slow southern charm”.
“In the conversation, he comes across smart, curious, funny and kind,” Kraus wrote. “He tends to turn into character voices just as you might expect from Johnny Depp as we know him on screen. But other than that, he’s modest, down to earth and incredibly attentive.”
During the trial, Kraus spent time with Depp’s “old friend”, she told Insider. She said she saw Depp receive calls from celebrities who expressed their support as the case progressed.
“I’ve been hanging out with his friend for six weeks, so I’m listening to FaceTimes between them,” Kraus said. “Basically, all these phone calls with celebrities calling to check on him, which has become a very cool angle because it just made him an ordinary guy. All these people talk about him like he’s just their friend.”
After the first conversation, over the phone, Kraus and Depp did not speak again until she met him in person at a cocktail party after the closing words of the trial, Kraus said. She wrote that Depp was not “trying to shape the direction of the story or to influence the way it was told.” He thanked her “for caring enough to carve it out with intent,” unlike media organizations that had “let him down so many times before,” Kraus wrote. Kraus declined to share details of her conversations with Depp other than what she wrote in her post on Substack.
This is not the first time that people close to Depp have come across online personalities who have supported his version of events.
Adam Waldman, a lawyer representing Depp, testified in his testimony that he communicated with “internet journalists” such as ThatUmbrellaGuy, an online personality who has recorded numerous videos and posts on social networks critical of Heard. (Waldman made comments that slandered Heard, the jury found, playing Depp’s “agent” when she called some of her allegations “a scam.”)
Depp v. Heard is not the first trial Kraus has covered
Kraus has taken a prominent position on social media, creating elaborate Instagram news stories. She attended the Ghislaine Maxwell trial in New York in November and December – waking up early in the morning to be first in line every day and securing a courtroom seat – and delivering news to her followers on social media. It also offered detailed coverage of the Britney Spears conservation battle, the death of Gabby Petito, and the drama surrounding the British royal family.
She is also not shy to share her perspective, which in the trial of Johnny Depp was openly pro-Depp. In her Instagram posts, Heard called it a liar who “undermines sexual and domestic abuse globally” and “ridicules the Me Too movement” with a “fake rape in a bottle of wine“story. A New York magazine described her as “the main mover of the story against Heard.”
The jurors eventually came to similar conclusions as Kraus, passing a verdict finding Depp and Heard slandered, but tilted in Depp’s favor.
Kraus told Insider that she does not consider herself a journalist, but only a “writer”. Her Substack account describes it as part of a “movement embracing a new wave of independent journalism” where members of the public can directly support writers who can “be as creative, uncensored and controversial” as they want, away from the “unbridled censorship” of traditional media.
“I just see it as an alternative approach to reporting. Against traditional journalistic rules – in that I rely on gossip and anonymous sources, humor and emotions, but the basic search for the truth, paired with a flexible narrative, I think speaks about people in the right way, “Kraus told Insider.” My goal in these stories it is simple: to humanize the people and circumstances involved. Offering a more personal connection in reporting. “
Her approach is to be as transparent as possible with her followers and to guide them through her information gathering process, she said. Kraus said most of the information she shared came from testimony at trial and interesting things that came to her through her DMs on Instagram. Sometimes she would hear from people who, based on the photos or texts they included, were directly involved in the events being discussed at the trial. The other material was “only unconfirmed gossip”.
“Nothing has been calculated. The beauty of this whole story is that it took place very organically, because I opened my page,” Kraus said. “But the gossip that came up in the end backed up all the evidence that came up. So from people who know them, they directly shaped my whole angle.”
After the trial, both Kraus and Depp ended up in London. For Kraus, it was a pre-planned trip to attend the Queen’s platinum jubilee. When the verdict was pronounced, she was sitting in a cafe with friends.
She later attended Depp’s concert in London, where he performed alongside Jeff Beck. The call came from one of Depp’s friends.
Kraus watched him from the audience, but he no longer had a chance to talk to him.