If pop culture had a fixer, his name would be Paul Barresi. Even though this former actor and Vietnam-era US Air Force veteran isn’t a household name, the names on his client list in Hollywood are. In addition to cases involving celebrities like Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy, he’s also worked with Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barry Bonds, Amber Heard, and Amie Harwick, among others who can’t be named here. You can imagine that he has many stories to tell – some on the record, others not. The Geekbuzz caught up with him recently to discuss Hollywood secrets, lies, innuendo, and everyone’s favorite topic: Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard.
After his crushing UK legal defeat in late 2020, an extensive article in USA Today featured experts in defamation law, public relations, and civil rights with the same message for Johnny Depp: Stop suing and start rebranding.
Add famed Hollywood private investigator Paul Barresi to the list.
“Johnny, and Amber Heard, should walk away,” Barresi says. “The time is long overdue for them to concentrate on their careers. They’d be better people for it.”
Barresi has a long and successful career as a Hollywood fixer who knows where the bodies are buried. Fit and younger-looking than his age would suggest, he speaks in half-sentences, diving headlong into any subject before stopping short and saying things like I really can’t tell you this… it would open a big can of worms. Though his client list is a virtual Rolodex of tinsel town royalty, he is perhaps best known these days as the investigator Amber Heard’s legal team hired to locate people who had been abused by Depp. Barresi readily admits not everyone he contacted was willing to confide in him, but he did talk to dozens of people from Depp’s past and wasn’t able to find anyone among them who had anything bad to say about him. He gives the impression of knowing more than he’s revealed on this topic, or really, any case he’s worked on. His financial welfare depends on discretion… at least until he gets an advance on a tell-all book he will surely write one day.
TAKING SIDES ISN’T SO BLACK AND WHITE
Barresi considers himself to be in Depp’s corner, but not for the reasons those who’ve taken sides in the former Pirates of the Caribbean star’s legal proceedings might think.
“I relate to and empathize with him because we both had horrible childhoods and cruel parents,” he adds. “I believe he’s been misguided because he grew up without an authority figure to guide him and champion him.”
After appearing on part 1 of the Discovery+ documentary Johnny vs Amber, which he believes was balanced, the entire Depp/Heard affair has been top of mind for the US Air Force veteran. And as the two prepare for their rematch in a Fairfax, Virginia courtroom next month, he believes the past offers sage advice for Mr. Depp.
“When Johnny Depp was only 6, The Corbin Kentucky Sunday Times publicly humiliated Johnny’s father with a feature story headlining his firing as the city’s manager,” he states. “Despite his disagreement with their reasoning, the elder Depp took the public embarrassment in stride, and he walked away with a positive attitude and with better opportunities in the future.”
“Decades later,” Barresi continues, “Johnny would also face humiliation after he was cut from two major Hollywood franchises and so he should at least consider how his father handled similar adversity.”
Though he believes Depp should bail now from any further litigation, how Depp handles the next trial’s decision will help determine his future.
A LEGAL LIFELINE?
Despite having the services of a respected and high-powered attorney in Ben Chew, team Depp late last month retained the services of Kathleen Zellner, an attorney with an extensive track record of overturning court decisions. Her firm is, perhaps, best known for getting Steve Avery‘s original murder case tossed out. (Avery is currently serving time for an unrelated murder case.)
This was a signal to some Mr. Depp had either lost faith in Chew or is already anticipating an appeal. Barresi believes Depp wants to cover his bases and not end up as he did after his loss in London, without a lifeline. “If he wants to appeal, he may as well have the best.”
Barring any late settlement, Barresi says Depp should move on regardless of the trial’s result. “If Johnny can accept the outcome win, lose, or draw with as much grace as possible, he’d be a better man for it. He has a die-hard fan base that will never abandon him. However, the never-ending feud between he and ex-wife Amber Heard is even growing tiresome to them. Johnny should keep that in mind before further damaging his career.”