Johnny Depp will no longer portray dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts film franchise. The actor announced the change on Instagram, saying that Warner Bros. asked him to resign from the role.
“I have respected and agreed to that request,” he wrote. “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 recently lost a defamation lawsuit against U.K. tabloid The Sun for libel. He sued the publication for calling him a “wife beater,” but the judge in the case said the Sun had proved what was in the article to be “substantially true.”
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Depp’s casting in the movies has been contentious since 2016, when the actor was reported to have abused his ex-wife Amber Heard, as well as engaged in abrasive and inappropriate conduct on set. In 2017, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling defended Depp’s inclusion in the franchise, as did director David Yates.
Depp’s removal comes just a few months after the Wizarding World’s last scandal. Back in June, Rowling tweeted in opposition to an op-ed that used the phrase “people who menstruate,” coming down hard on her trans-exclusionary position on social media. Many former Harry Potter cast members, including Daniel Radcliffe himself, spoke out against Rowling’s position.
Depp previously hinted that he might return to the franchise for the third movie, which resumed production in September of this year.
“Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson told Polygon. “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.”