Some spectators present in the courtroom during the trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard went to great lengths to secure a front row seat.
Fans told People magazine they camped in their cars outside the Fairfax, Virginia, courthouse and even spent up to $30,000 in travel expenses to wait for entry.
Hordes of eager enthusiasts revealed they arrive in the early hours to secure wristbands, which grant access to the courtroom each day to see the A-listers’ testimonies.
“I’ve never been to a public trial before. I’ve never stayed up in line for anything overnight, and I got there at 12:45 a.m.,” Sabrina Harrison, of Madison, Wisconsin, told People. “I’ve never done anything like this in my 46 years of life.”
Sharon Smith, 52, told People she crossed the ocean to see the trial. Fresh from a 12-year relationship in the UK, Smith packed her belongings into a storage unit and flew to Virginia when the trials began in April. During the breaks, she travels to Los Angeles, then comes back when things continue.
“I’m coming back and forth from LA, so you’re looking at $600-$700 every time, 10 hours of your life on the air,” she said. “Hotel, food, drinks [cost] about $10,000.”
Smith arrives at the courthouse every day at 1 a.m. to snag a front row seat at the high-profile defamation trial. One morning in particular, she was soaked by a rain shower. When asked if she was there for Depp or Heard, she replied, “I’m getting wet for Johnny.”
“I don’t know. It went in my head and then out of my mouth,” she told People.
For now, the courtroom is her home—at least for now. With the trial over, Smith is unsure where she will end up.
“I’m kind of between Liverpool, London and Leeds,” she said, adding that her family thinks she’s having a “mid-life crisis”.
“I’m having fun,” she said. “People keep saying, ‘Are you okay? are you really okay?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, I’m fine.’”
Ivan De Boer, 59, used annual paid leave to travel to the trial from Los Angeles and has so far spent $30,000 on her expenses.
“I took my whole year off so I could be here for Johnny,” she said. “I’m the same age as Johnny. I’m single, so basically I do what I want.”
Although she dropped all that money, she has no regrets.
“I would regret it even more if I wasn’t here,” she said.
Emily, a 26-year-old from Arlington, Virginia, joined the sea of supporters bright and early at 2 a.m. on May 4 to ensure she was one of the first 100 people in line.
“My friends think I’m crazy for doing this, but I think it’s a historical process and I think it’s really interesting that it’s taking place in Northern Virginia,” she said. “Someone arrived here last night [at 9 p.m.] to get first place.”
People slept in their cars to save money while getting the best seat in line.
“It’s not very comfortable being in Virginia most of the week every week, but I slept in my car when I got here,” said Jarva, 33, from Brooklyn, New York. “And I’ve been staying at the Ritz with my friends ever since. I’ve stayed at my other friend’s place and if necessary I stay in my car. It’s worth it.”
Angela Metha, a 40-year-old doctor from Fairfax, said she attended the hearing in person five times and made special arrangements that made her presence possible.
“I came and stood in line at 4am today. Picked up my mother in law to sleep with the kids; they are 4 and 6. stood in line, got my ID, then went home at 7:30, got them ready for school, dropped them off, came back. And then I did extra shifts so I could take days off to come here,” she told People.
Like Smith, Metha’s family thinks she’s “crazy,” especially after she asked her husband to spend their 10-year wedding anniversary at the trials by having him join her.
“I said to him, ‘As part of our gift, can you come with me?’ And he’s like, ‘Hell no,'” she said, even though her husband “loves Johnny Depp.” “He just doesn’t understand people getting up in the middle of the night and queuing to see him. But it’s exhilarating to see in person.”
Jennifer, a 43-year-old from Rome, New York, waited in line to enter the courtroom at 1 a.m. and admitted to People her spree shopping for the perfect outfit cost her $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 said. “I’m self-employed, so it was very flexible.”
Depp is currently suing 36-year-old Heard for $50 million in defamation after she penned a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post in which she described herself as “a public figure who depicts domestic violence.” . While Depp was not named, he claims Heard decimated his reputation and career, costing him millions of dollars in work.
The trial is currently on hiatus until May 16, when testimony resumes at 9:30 a.m