Amber Laura Heard was born in Austin, Texas, to Patricia Paige Heard (née Parsons), an internet researcher, and David C. Heard (David Clinton Heard), a contractor. She has English, Irish, Scottish, German, and Welsh ancestry.
Heard appeared in the Academy Award-nominated film, North Country (2005), in which she played Charlize Theron's character in flashbacks. Her other early film credits include: Syrup (2013), Drive Angry (2011) 3D, The Joneses (2009), Never Back Down (2008), Alpha Dog (2006) and Friday Night Lights (2004). On television, Heard starred on The CW drama, Hidden Palms (2007), and had guest starring roles on Showtime's Californication (2007) and CBS's Criminal Minds (2005).
In 2009, Heard starred in the box office hit, Zombieland (2009), opposite Woody Harrelson, Bill Murray and Jesse Eisenberg. She also starred in the suspense thriller, The Stepfather (2009), with Sela Ward, Dylan Walsh and Penn Badgley. In 2008, she garnered attention for her role in the comedic hit, Pineapple Express (2008), with Seth Rogen and James Franco. Heard received a 2008 Young Hollywood Award for her breakthrough performance in "Pineapple Express".
She appeared in The Rum Diary (2011), opposite Johnny Depp, and John Carpenter's The Ward (2010), which premiered at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival. She also starred in the independent film, And Soon the Darkness (2010), in which she additionally served as a co-producer.