Johnny Depp Drops Out Of 'Fantastic Beasts' Franchise After Recent Court Case Verdict

Johnny Depp has been embroiled in a legal battle with the British tabloid The Sun after they referred to the actor as a "wife beater," claiming that he had abused his ex-wife, Aquaman actress Amber Heard. That court case recently came to an end, and a judge ruled that the allegations were "substantially true," which means Johnny Depp lost the case. And now that ruling has resulted in him losing a job.

Warner Bros. Pictures asked Johnny Depp to resign from his role as the evil wizard Grindelwald in the the Harry Potter spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts, and the actor has obliged.

Johnny Depp posted a typed letter to his Instagram today:

"In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement.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.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.Finally, I wish to say this. 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," he said. "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."

What's odd is that Johnny Depp chose to make this announcement with an image of the letter he wrote. What's not clear is whether he typed it on a computer using a typewriter style font and then took a screenshot and posted it that way, or if he typed it on paper and then scanned it and uploaded it to his computer. Either way, it's a weird choice to stylize a letter at a time like this.

For their part, Warner Bros. Pictures made a statement of their own (via Variety):

"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."

Now this means the Fantastic Beasts franchise has to find someone else to play Grindelwald. The good news is that there's a precedent set for Grindelwald changing his appearance. Colin Farrell's character in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was actually Grindelwald in disguise, and it was a little disappointing when he transformed back into Johnny Depp and stayed that way for the entirety of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. While it would be nice if the franchise brought Colin Farrell back, that probably doesn't make sense for the narrative since that disguise is now ineffective. But now they can bring in a new actor and just have it be another disguise. Quick, someone call Mads Mikkelsen!

Previously, Fantastic Beasts 3 was set for release on November 21, 2021, but with the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on the release calendar and production timetables, it's been pushed to the summer of 2022.