Johnny Depp Leaves Fantastic Beasts Film SeriesDecember 15, 2020
Earlier this week, actor Johnny Depp announced that he would be departing from his role as the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts movie series. The news came shortly after Depp lost a libel against the British tabloid The Sun, which referred to him as a “wife beater.” Depp shared news of his departure from the Harry Potter prequel series through his official Instagram page. In the post, Depp said that studio executives at Warner Bros. had asked him to leave the role and he did so out of respect for the studio. In a separate statement, Warner Bros. thanked Depp for his work in Fantastic Beasts and confirmed that they would be recasting Grindelwald, the series’ main villain and a dark wizard second only to Lord Voldemort in infamy in the Harry Potter franchise.
While Depp has left the role behind him, he has promised to continue his fight against The Sun in the British legal system. The case has its origins in a 2018 article, where the tabloid portrayed Depp as abusive to Aquaman actress Amber Heard, who was his wife at the time. Among those named in the suit were Dan Wootton, the executive editor of The Sun, and its publisher, News Group Newspapers. The case attracted international attention and saw testimony from both Depp and Heard. In a ruling released last week, Justice Andrew Nicol sided in favor of The Sun, determining that the allegations against Depp were true. Depp strongly criticized Justice Nicol’s ruling, referring to it as “surreal” and promising to appeal the decision. Depp further says that his career will not be defined by the suit and that he is fighting for the truth.
Fantastic Beasts creator J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. have been on the defense since news of Depp’s abusive relationship with Heard became public knowledge in 2018. Fans of the Harry Potter series were particularly critical of Rowling, who has been a major advocate for women’s rights. Speaking up for Depp, Rowling and Warner Bros. executives defended Depp’s participation in the series by saying that it was their belief that the violence in the marriage was mutual and that media outlets were exaggerating the extent of the abuse. Depp has not been the only Fantastic Beasts cast member to draw criticism from fans of the series. Ezra Miller, who plays Aurelius Dumbledore in the series, was photographed choking a woman last April. The incident led fans on social media to demand he be fired from the project.
The Fantastic Beasts series has been a financial hit for Warner Bros. Thus far, the two films in the series, 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, have made over $1.5 billion at the box office. A total of five films are planned for the series, with the next installment scheduled for release in 2022.