Johnny Depp will no longer be part of Warner Bros.’ future for the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
In a letter posted to Instagram, Depp confirmed that in the wake of a recent libel case decision in the UK—which the actor lost after suing the tabloid newspaper The Sun over an article that described him as a “wife-beater” in claims that he abused his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard—Warner Bros. has asked him to resign from the next entry of its Harry Potter spinoff, in spite of Depp’s decision to appeal the ruling.
“The claimant [Depp] has not succeeded in his action for libel,” London High Court Justice Nicol wrote in his 129-page ruling. “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 found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard.”
“I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days,” Depp’s statement of his departure reads in part. “Secondly, 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’s part in the movies has been defended in the face of controversy before after his appearance as the titular villain in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. “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,” noted TERF J.K. Rowling previously said in a statement.
But it would seem that in this particular case, as far as behind the scenes in the Potterverse is concerned, Warner Bros. was finally unwilling to ignore events beyond the films.
Fantastic Beasts the series is still being shepherded and co-written by J.K. Rowling, who is, once again a noted TERF. The third installment is currently filming.
Update 11/6/2020, 12:10 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional prior commentary from Rowling and the London High Court.
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