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Johnny Depp is leaving the Fantastic Beasts film franchise after the studio requested the actor’s departure.
The actor made an announcement in an Instagram post Friday, writing, “I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request.”
Depp’s firing comes after the actor lost a libel suit in the U.K. against News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun. Depp sued the U.K.-based publisher for defamation over an April 17, 2018, article headlined “How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife-beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” After a contentious summer trial that made global headlines for weeks and put the acrimonious relationship between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard under a microscope, Judge Andrew Nicol on Monday dismissed the suit, finding that what the paper published was “substantially true.”
In his Instagram post, Depp said that he would be seeking an appeal.
“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,” wrote the actor on Instagram. “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.”
For its part, Warner Bros. offered a statement Friday morning confirming the news of Depp’s dismissal, noting the role of Grindelwald would be recast for the franchise’s third installment, due out in 2022. The movie, which is led by Eddie Redmayne, is currently in production and was previously set to hit theaters in November 2021.
“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,” read the statement from a studio spokesperson. “The film will debut in theaters worldwide in the summer of 2022.”
Depp first appeared in the franchise as the central villain Grindelwald in 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them before starring in the 2018 sequel The Crimes of Grindelwald. The Harry Potter spinoff series has proven lucrative for the studio, grossing nearly $1.5 billion at the global box office between the two films.
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