Paul Morigi/Getty Spectators at the libel trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard
Spectators at the ongoing libel trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard struggled to secure a seat in the courtroom to watch the action up close, which included camping in cars in front of the courthouse and in one case up to $ spend 30,000 on travel expenses.
Several fans of Depp, 58, tell PEOPLE they showed up in the wee hours of the morning to make sure they were given a wristband that would allow them to sit in the courtroom in Fairfax, Virginia, to witness the explosive trial.
“I’ve never been to a public trial. I’ve never stayed up overnight for anything and I showed up at 12:45 PM,” said Sabrina Harrison of Madison, Wisconsin. “I’ve never done anything like this in my 46-year life.”
Spectators have turned up from all over the country and even from abroad. Sharon Smith, 52, who recently ended a 12-year relationship in Britain, put away her belongings and decided to fly to Virginia so she could watch the trial when it began on April 11.
When the trial isn’t underway, Smith flies to Los Angeles and returns to Virginia when the trial resumes — and the costs mount. “I come back and forth from LA, so you’re looking at $600 to $700 each time, 10 hours of your life in the air. But yeah, hotel, food, drinks, about $10,000,” she says of the total she has spent so far.
When the trial comes to an end, Smith isn’t sure where to call home. “I’m a bit between Liverpool, London and Leeds at the moment. I don’t know where I will end up,” she told PEOPLE.
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STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty; EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Johnny Depp; Amber heard
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Smith is at the courthouse every day at 1 a.m. to make sure she has a place to sit in the courtroom.
Early one morning, she got soaked while standing in line during a rainstorm. At the time, a reporter asked if she was there to support Depp or Heard.
“I just said, ‘I’m getting wet for Johnny,'” she tells PEOPLE. “I don’t know; it got in my head and then out of my mouth.”
Smith says her family thinks she’s “having a midlife crisis” by making the US her home for the duration of the trial.
“They say, ‘She saved everything. She sold everything.’ Well, I didn’t sell anything. I left him with pretty much everything.” She just got on a plane, she went to America, and when we keep asking when she’s coming back, she says, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.” “I’m having fun,” Smith says. “People keep saying, ‘Are you okay? Are you really okay?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ †
Emily, 26, of Arlington, Virginia, says she woke up at 2 a.m. on May 4 so she could be one of the first 100 people in line.
“My friends think I’m crazy for doing it, but I think it’s a historic process and I think it’s really interesting that it’s taking place in Northern Virginia,” she says. “Someone came here last night” [at 9 p.m.] to take first place.”
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Others made arrangements to come to the courthouse every day and sleep in their cars to keep their travel costs down.
“It’s not quite convenient to be in Virginia most of the week, every week, but I slept in my car when I got here. And I’ve been staying at the Ritz with my friends ever since. I stayed in my apartment. other friend, and I stay in my car if needed. It’s worth it,” said Jarva, 33, of Brooklyn, New York. She sketches the process every day, hoping to publish her storyboard independently soon.
Aneela Metha, a 40-year-old physician from Fairfax, Virginia, had to make appointments to allow time to see the process in person five times.
“I got in line at 4 today. I picked up my mother in law so she can sleep with the kids; they are 4 and 6. I stood in line, got my pass and then went back home at 7:30 am I got them ready for school, dropped them off and came back, and then I worked extra shifts so I can take days off to get here,” she says.
Metha says of her family’s response, “They think I’m crazy,” adding that her 10-year wedding anniversary is on Thursday and she asked her husband if he would like to spend a day with her.
“I said to him, ‘Can you come with me as part of our gift?’ And he says, ‘Hell no,'” she says.
Metha says her husband “loves Johnny Depp, but he just doesn’t understand that people are queuing up in the middle of the night to come and see him. But it’s exciting to see this in person.”
JIM LO SCALZO / POOL / AFP / Getty Amber heard; Johnny Depp
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Ivan De Boer, 59, of Los Angeles, tells PEOPLE that she used her paid vacation time for the year to attend the trial. So far, she has spent about $30,000 on expenses.
“I took my whole year off so I could be here for Johnny,” she says. “I’m the same age as Johnny. I’m single, so I basically do whatever I want.”
When asked if she regrets spending so much, De Boer replies: “No regrets. I would regret it more if I wasn’t there.”
Jennifer, 43, who was traveling from Rome, New York, came out at 1am to wait in line to get a seat to enter the courtroom. She tells PEOPLE that her shopping trips for clothes to wear during the trial, which will be broadcast live online, cost her about $2,200.
“As a person who has experienced domestic violence myself, it just had to be something we did. I’ve been here since the beginning of the process,” she says. “I’m self-employed, so it was very flexible.”
PEOPLE spoke to Depp’s fans in court on May 4, the first day Heard, 36, took the stand. While the Aquaman 2 actress testified, Depp was seen mostly looking down and occasionally whispering to his lawyer.
Thursday was the last day of the trial before a hiatus began due to the judge’s earlier commitment to attend a conference. It will resume on Monday.
Depp originally filed the $50 million lawsuit against Heard in 2019, but it was delayed due to the pandemic. The lawsuit is over a December 2018 op-ed for which she wrote: The Washington Post about surviving domestic violence, although she never mentioned Depp by name.
Depp has testified that his “goal is the truth” as he tries to clear his name in the process, which will be broadcast live through various outlets. Ahead of the trial, Heard said in a statement that “Hopefully, when this case is resolved, I can move on and Johnny can too. I have always loved Johnny and it pains me deeply to share the details of our past lives together for the foreseeable future.” world.”
To learn more about the trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, download the latest issue of PEOPLEon newsstands Friday.