Gwyneth Paltrow, Johnny Depp, Wagatha Christie: Are high-profile lawsuits really worth it for celebs? | Ents & Arts News

Gwyneth Paltrow consciously uncoupled from ordinary life years ago.

In the era of celebrity relatability, with once mysterious A-listers now sharing everything from breakfast to breakdowns on social media, she is one star completely comfortable with the world knowing she exists on a higher plane of bone broth, vagina candles, and $8,000-a-day skiing lessons.

Facing a lawsuit, many A-listers might simply choose to pay-up, regardless of whodunnit, rather than go through the rigmarole of a potentially reputation-damaging court case. But the Oscar-winner turned wellness guru is not one of them.

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The Gwyneth Paltrow court case in six minutes

The internet has been flooded with Paltrow in the last two weeks, as her high-profile legal fight played out on camera. This all started with a skiing accident involving a retired optometrist in Utah in 2016, and somehow ended in global headlines about the star’s outfits, controversy over her offer to hand out treats in the courtroom – declined! – and questioning about her friendship with Taylor Swift.

She won the case – only asking for $1 in damages, because this was about principle – but for a woman who would barely have noticed making it all go away for $300,000 (£242,000), the amount she was sued for, was it really worth it?

Many were shocked hearing the details of the wealth and privilege that spilled out in court, but perhaps there were just as many impressed by her dry response when asked what she had lost as a result of the accident. “Well, we lost half a day of skiing,” quickly went viral. (Luckily, she was still able to get a massage.)

And turning the courtroom into a catwalk for her own brand Goop, as well as other designers, no doubt has helped with sales.

Depp’s two court cases – and very different outcomes

Johnny Depp in court during the closing arguments of his libel trial against Amber Heard

For some reason, celebrity lawsuits seem to be like buses at the moment. At the same time as Paltrow was in court in the US, here in the UK a group including Prince Harry, Sir Elton John and Liz Hurley were taking on the publisher of the Daily Mail at the High Court; last year, we had Johnny Depp v Amber Heard: Round 2 and Wagatha Christie.

In 2020, when Depp first went to court in the UK – suing the publisher of The Sun newspaper – the revelations about his and Heard’s relationship were jaw-dropping: “mega pints” of red wine, insults scrawled in blood and paint on walls, gross text messages, trashed apartments, human faeces apparently left in a bed… let alone the actual claims of abuse.

Even before he lost the case, his reputation seemed to be ruined. But in 2022, he chose to go through it all again; this time suing Heard herself and, like Paltrow’s case, all on camera. After following the UK case through news articles and bulletins, now the world was able to watch everything as it unfolded.

Read more:
Depp v Heard: The key bits of evidence
Twelve of the most shocking celeb moments of 2022

Actor Amber Heard arrives in the courtroom in the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, May 26, 2022. Actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse." (Michael Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP)
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Pic: AP

Depp told the US court he lost “nothing less than everything” as a result of allegations of abuse by Heard. When asked why he had chosen the humiliation of his private life being publicly scrutinised over staying quiet, he said he was “obsessed” with the truth and wanted to clear his name for himself and for his children.

After six weeks of evidence, the majority of the public seemed to side with the actor and the jury went the opposite way to the judge in the UK, finding in his favour.

Before the verdict had even been delivered, Depp was on stage in Sheffield, having joined Jeff Beck on his European tour. More gigs – and a trip to meet a rescued badger – followed in the days surrounding his legal win. Now, he is due to appear as Louis XV in Jeanne Du Barry, his first major film role since the court cases, later this year; his supergroup The Hollywood Vampires goes on tour in the summer, and there are reports he may even return to the Pirates franchise.

‘It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account’

Rebekah Vardy arrives at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, as the high-profile libel battle between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney enters its second day. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2022.

For Depp, arguably it was all worth it. For Rebekah Vardy, who refused to back down in her lawsuit against Coleen Rooney despite a settlement being offered before the eventual court case, it probably wasn’t.

During the court hearing, it was alleged she had leaked stories to tabloids, not just about Rooney, but about teammates of her Leicester City footballer husband Jamie Vardy and others, and that she set up paparazzi shots of the England players’ wives and girlfriends during the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

In a damning verdict, Judge Justice Steyn described Vardy’s evidence as “manifestly inconsistent… evasive or implausible” – while Rooney’s evidence was “honest and reliable”.

Afterwards, Vardy maintained her innocence in an interview with TalkTV, saying: “It feels like the judge just read what was written in the media and took on their narrative bias.”

Read more:
Five notable moments from Paltrow’s testimony
Goop sued as man claims vagina candle ‘exploded’

Still, she seems to be moving on. Perhaps all publicity is good publicity, as long as you can afford the costly legal fees if things don’t go your way. Her latest Instagram posts show her on the ski slopes herself; hopefully she’s aware of the dangers.

After Paltrow’s win was read out in court, the claimant, Terry Sanderson – who has to pay the star’s legal fees, as well as his own, despite the minimal $1 damages – was questioned by reporters waiting outside. Asked if the trial had been “worth it”, he replied: “Absolutely not.”

For Paltrow, perhaps it was. She has faced years of stick about her wellness brand, but has never cared about the haters. And long after the point of this case has been forgotten, the outfits – and no doubt visits to the Goop website – will live on.


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