Johnny Depp is out as the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. The actor announced the news, which we first learned about at Variety, in an Instagram post. Depp’s exit comes just days after he lost a highly-publicized defamation suit against UK tabloid The Sun, over its reporting of his alleged abuse of ex-wife Amber Heard. In the verdict, the judge called the newspaper’s reporting in the article at the center of the lawsuit to be “substantially true.” In his statement, the actor revealed it was not his decision to leave the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Rather, Warner Bros. asked him to resign from the Grindelwald role.
A Warner Bros. spokesperson confirmed Depp’s departure in a short statement to Nerdist and confirmed the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast for the franchise’s third film: “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.”
His full statement on Instagram reads:
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 in 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 Beastsand I have respected and agreed to that request.
Finally, I wish to say this. The surreal judgement of the court in the UK will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal. 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.
Warner Bros. has spent years under intense scrutiny for its decision to cast Depp in the franchise in wake of the abuse allegations. At the time, the Fantastic Beast team—including producer David Heyman, director David Yates, and screenwriter and Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling—fervently defended his casting. Rowling, meanwhile, has been mired in a controversy of her own. The author has been heavily scrutinized for her continued run of transphobic tweets, which prompted several Harry Potter cast members to push back on her comments.
The actor first appeared in a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them cameo, when it was revealed that Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves was Grindelwald in disguise. Depp played a more substantial role in the sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The recasting should be a pretty easy maneuver considering the franchise has already established Grindelwald as a master of disguise.