Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard, both masked, arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday for the explosive start of a libel trial.

Depp is suing the publisher of The Sun, News Group Newspapers, and the paper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, for describing him as a “wife-beater,” based on allegations Heard had made.

Depp “is not and never has been a wife beater,” his attorney David Sherborne said in an opening statement. He added that Depp alleged it was “Heard who was the one who started physical fights, who punched or hit him […] she was the abuser, not him.”

In the witness box, with Heard seated in the public gallery, Depp told the court that she had “said to the world that she was in fear of her life from me, and I had been this horrible monster, if you will. Which was not the case.”

Sherborne read from a transcript of a conversation between Depp and Heard recorded in September 2015. Heard said: “You got hit … but I did not punch you. I did not f—ing deck you. I f—ing was hitting you.” She went on to say “you are a f—ing baby,” to which Depp responded: “Because you start physical fights.”

Depp would try to avoid confrontation, the actor claimed. “As was my practice in these situations, whenever it would escalate, I would try to go to my own corner as it were … before things got out of hand.”

Depp, cross-examined by defense attorney Sasha Wass, admitted to taking marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and magic mushrooms over the years.

When quizzed about an arrest for assault and damage committed to a New York hotel room, Depp denied he had anger management issues. “I was angry, but that doesn’t mean I have an anger problem,” he said.

The court watched a video clip, recorded by Heard, in which Depp was seen kicking kitchen furniture and swearing before pouring himself a glass of red wine. Responding to what he had seen, Depp said he “wasn’t particularly proud of myself,” but denied that it proved he was a “monster” when he drank and took drugs. “It’s not Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” he said.

In his witness statement, Depp alleged that Heard was “a calculating, diagnosed borderline personality; she is sociopathic; she is a narcissist; and she is completely emotionally dishonest.”

“I am now convinced that she came into my life to take from me anything worth taking, and then destroy what remained of it,” he said.

In late 2014 or early 2015, he was on a private jet with Heard when, he alleged, she “became physically violent and repeatedly punched me in the face. As I moved towards the back of the plane to get away from her, she followed me into the plane’s bedroom and punched me again in the face and the head.”

In a statement released before the three-week trial began, a spokesman for Heard said the actress had “never asked for these proceedings” to take place. “Amber obtained a domestic violence restraining order against Depp back in 2016 and has tried to move on with her life,” the statement said.

“It is Johnny Depp who brought these proceedings against a British newspaper and has dragged her to the U.K. courts to give evidence on some of the most distressing moments of her life.”