On 6th November, Depp shared the announcement with his 7 million Instagram followers, writing that he would no longer be appearing in the fantasy series as the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald. The decision, wrote Depp, came at the request of Warner Bros., the studio that produces the franchise.
“I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts,” he explained on Instagram. “And I have respected and agreed to that request.”
“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,” Depp added. “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’s exit from the franchise comes just days after Judge Andrew Nicol ruled that his libel suit against The Sun was unsubstantiated. In 2018, the actor sued the British outlet for publishing a story that included abuse allegations against him; the newspaper famously called Depp a “wife beater” because of reports that he had abused ex-wife Amber Heard. That case ended earlier this week, with the presiding judge stating that he’d found the allegations published by The Sun to be “substantially true” and that he accepted that Depp had in fact “put [Heard] in fear of her life.”
Depp has maintained his innocence since the accusations first came up, and until now, both Warner Bros. and author J.K. Rowling have been firm in their support of him; Rowling even went as far as to say that she was “comfortable” and “genuinely happy” to have him continuing on in the franchise back in 2017. However, the media giant has had a change of heart and is already on the hunt for a new star to take up the mantle of Grindelwald in the upcoming film.
“Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise,” a WB spokesperson confirmed in a statement to Refinery29. “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.”
No word yet on what the next movie is about or who will replace Depp in the third instalment, but whoever it is will have big shoes to fill. As the second most powerful Dark Wizard after Voldermort, Grindelwald is an important part of the the Harry Potter universe, and he will continue to be a major player in the forthcoming Fantastic Beasts film.