After losing the libel case earlier this week against British tabloid The Sun, actor Johnny Depp is now stepping away from The Fantastic Beasts franchise. In the Warner Bros sequel franchise to Harry Potter, Depp played the villainous Gellert Grindelwald.
The actor released a statement, confirming that he’s been asked to “resign” from playing the character by Warner Bros.
“In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement,” Depp begins. “Firstly, I’d like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty. I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days.”
“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,” he adds, before going on to say that “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. 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 has been embroiled in messy and very public legal proceedings with ex wife Amber Heard (Aquaman), who accused him of domestic abuse.
Warner Bros. has since followed up by confirming that the role of Grindelwald will indeed be recast for the third movie, which is currently in production. It has now been pushed to 2022, however.
“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.”
How deeply this will hurt the Warner Bros. franchise, which has not exactly caught fire with audiences the same way Potter did, is anyone’s guess.