Johnny Depp has exited the Fantastic Beasts franchise after Warner Bros. requested he step down from his role.
The 57-year-old actor played Gellert Grindelwald in 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and its 2018 follow-up, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
But Depp will not be returning to the role for the third movie in the Harry Potter spin-off franchise, after studio bosses asked him to step down following the loss of his libel case against The Sun newspaper involving allegations of assault made by ex-wife Amber Heard.
In a statement posted to Instagram on Friday (Nov 6), Depp said: “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.”
As per Variety, a Warner Bros spokesperson said, “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.”
Depp had taken action against British publication The Sun after they branded him a wife beater who had assaulted then-spouse Amber Heard, but a judge at London's High Court threw out his defamation accusation earlier this week.
Following Mr Justice Nicol's ruling, the Pirates of the Caribbean star may also face having to pay out millions of pounds in legal fees, including The Sun's costs.
In his ruling, the judge said: “The claimant [Depp] has not succeeded in his action for libel … The defendants [The Sun and News Group Newspapers] have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true.
“I have reached these conclusions having examined in detail the 14 incidents on which the defendants rely as well as the overarching considerations which the claimant submitted I should take into account. In those circumstances, parliament has said that a defendant has a complete defence.”
However, Depp’s legal team have already said they plan to appeal his "bewildering" loss.
Jenny Afia of Schillings, who represented Depp, said in a statement: "This decision is as perverse as it is bewildering. The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr. Depp not to appeal this decision.”— BANG