Meet the Future Mrs. Johnny Depp

An engagement ring from Johnny Depp is getting the model-actress all kinds of attention.
05/27/2014 05:58 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

An engagement ring from Johnny Depp is getting the model-actress all kinds of attention.

By Lynn Hirschberg, W Magazine

Photography by Steven Klein
Styled by Edward Enninful


"Don't you think she looks like me?" Amber Heard asks as she pets her horse, Arrow. Heard, 28, is wearing mud-caked riding boots, tight blue jeans, a white undershirt, and thin mesh gloves that partially cover her red-lacquered nails; she puts her face next to the horse's long tan-colored muzzle and coyly flips her ponytail. In fact, they do look alike: both lanky, pale and blonde. Arrow nuzzles Heard, hoping for something to eat. "So like me," Heard continues, reaching down into a pail filled with horse snacks. She feeds Arrow an apple. "She'll love you forever if you give her a treat." Heard watches the horse as she demolishes the apple. "Just standing here makes my blood pressure go down," she says. "When I'm in L.A., I come ride her five times a week. No matter how crazy things get, Arrow will immediately get me back to normal."

Although she is careful not to spell it out, Heard is probably alluding to the hoopla surrounding her recent engagement to Johnny Depp, her costar in 2011's The Rum Diary, which was based on an early novel by Hunter S. Thompson. Before making that film, Heard had worked steadily, appearing in films like 2008's Pineapple Express (as Seth Rogen's high school girlfriend), 2004's Friday Night Lights (as Garrett Hedlund's high school girlfriend), and 2009's The Joneses (as a high school girl who falls in love with an older man, David Duchovny). In The Rum Diary, she was no longer high school material -- she was the complex, mysterious woman who haunts Thompson in Puerto Rico. "It's very hard to find opportunities like that as a young romantic lead," Heard says, leading Arrow out of her paddock to be groomed. "As a woman, I usually have two options: Sex Object or the Best Friend Who Isn't Sexy. It's not creatively fulfilling to just be sexy. I did nothing to look the way I look. The genetic cards that anyone is dealt are not in their control, so to take pride in my looks would be a mistake. And besides," she continues, pointing to the horse, "in L.A. there's always someone more beautiful!"

As a former Guess Jeans model, Heard had practically come to expect being typecast. "I remember getting a small part in the movie Zombieland," she continues. "I said to the director, 'Do I get to play a true zombie or am I a cleavage zombie?' I had this fear that he was going to want me to be a zombie in my underwear! He said, 'No -- take it as far as you want.' I said, 'Get the vomit packs ready! I'm going to be ugly and gross!' "

According to friends, it was Heard's intensity and independent attitude that attracted Depp most. "I have always wanted to go," Heard explains. Growing up in Austin, Texas, she was restless and ambitious. "I didn't want to be stuck there. And modeling was a way to see a much bigger world." Heard is very close to her father, a contractor who also breaks horses -- including Arrow. "He taught me a lot about animals, about cars, and about resilience. That's what happens when your father doesn't have a son. I drew the line at learning about football. I had to rebel somehow."