Johnny Depp Forced to Resign From 'Fantastic Beasts' Films After Losing Court Battle
By Rachel McRady
Johnny Depp will no longer play a part in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise. The 57-year-old actor shared the news on Friday via a "short statement" on his social media after a recent loss in court.
"I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request," Depp wrote.
Warner Bros. confirmed the news in a statement to ET, saying, "Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date. Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production, and the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast. The film will debut in theaters worldwide in the summer of 2022."
Additionally, ET has learned production will continue without interruption as Depp's role is recast with no plans to pause filming that is currently underway.
The news comes after Depp lost his libel court case in the United Kingdom on Monday. Depp previously sued The Sun and executive editor Dan Wootton after the tabloid referred to the actor as a "wife beater" in a 2018 article. The court ruled that the tabloid was justified in its use of the phrase, which directly referenced his relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard.
Depp has vehemently denied he was ever violent toward Heard, whom he was married to from 2015 to 2017.
"The surreal judgement of the court in the U.K. will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal," Depp continued in his statement. "My resolve remains strong and I intend to prove that the allegations against me are false. My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time."
Depp's involvement in the Fantastic Beasts franchise has been a point of contention for fans. He appeared in the franchise's first two films, Fantastic Beasts and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, as the central villainous role of the powerful dark wizard. In December 2017, Fantastic Beasts scribe J.K. Rowling released a statement about Depp's controversial casting.
"When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he’d be wonderful in the role. However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise," Rowling said in a statement to ET at the time. "Harry Potter fans had legitimate questions and concerns about our choice to continue with Johnny Depp in the role. As David Yates, long-time Potter director, has already said, we naturally considered the possibility of recasting. I understand why some have been confused and angry about why that didn’t happen."
Rowling went on to add, "For me personally, the inability to speak openly to fans about this issue has been difficult, frustrating and at times painful. However, the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected. Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies."
"I’ll be honest with you, I felt bad for J.K. having to field all these various feelings from people out there. I felt bad that she had to take that," he said. "But ultimately, there is real controversy. The fact remains I was falsely accused, which is why I’m suing The Sun newspaper for defamation for repeating false accusations. J.K. has seen the evidence and therefore knows I was falsely accused, and that’s why she has publicly supported me. She doesn’t take things lightly. She would not stand up if she didn’t know the truth. So that’s really it."