Well, it certainly took long enough, but it seems like Warner Bros. has officially seen enough when it comes to the abuse allegations and legal woes of actor Johnny Depp. Straight from Depp’s own mouth, via his Instagram account, he acknowledged that Warner Bros. has asked him to resign from the upcoming third Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie, and he has agreed to do so.
This news comes hot on the heels of Depp losing a court case in the U.K., where he tried to sue newspaper The Sun for defamation after the publication referred to him as a “wife beater.” That ruling went against Depp; just the latest in a string of embarrassing career setbacks that coincided with numerous court battles against former wife Amber Heard, who alleged abuse.
Depp’s character of Gellert Grindelwald had been central to the Fantastic Beasts series from the first film, although he was only revealed in that movie’s closing moments. Sequel The Crimes of Grindelwald obviously featured a lot more of Depp, which led to heavy criticism of Warner Bros. that the studio largely seemed to ignore. The character remains the lead antagonist of the untitled third film (and perhaps more films after that), so a major recasting will clearly be in order, which is sure to cast a bizarre pall over the Harry Potter spin-off franchise, already suffering after the internet turned against the apparent transphobia of series creator J.K. Rowling.
The third Fantastic Beasts film had already been through a rather convoluted production process—it originally had a release date of Nov. 20, 2020, and was meant to begin filming in July 2019, but production was pushed back all the way to March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic then struck just as production was meant to begin, completely upending the film once again. It is interesting to note that if production had begun at this point, Depp would likely have remained in the Grindelwald role. In fact, the movie has been filming at this point since September, and it’s unclear whether material with Depp had been shot or not. If it has, it will clearly need to be replaced.
You can read Depp’s full Instagram statement below.
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