Johnny Depp Leaving Fantastic Beasts Following Loss In Libel Lawsuit

Harry Potter has been dominating pop culture for years, currently with David Yates' Fantastic Beasts franchises expanding the Wizarding World. And while production is set to finally kick up across the pond for Fantastic Beasts 3, the upcoming threequel has hit a major road block. Namely because Johnny Depp will be departing his role as the villainous Grindelwald following a recent loss in court.

Johnny Depp was revealed to be Grindelwald in the final moments of the first Fantastic Beasts movie, before having a meaty role in The Crimes of Grindelwald. But as he geared up to start filming the third movie, Depp also spent time in court suing The Sun for defamation after the publication referred to him as a "wife beater." The actor has since lost that case, and now it seems he's lost his Harry Potter gig as well. Depp shared this news himself on social media, check it out below.

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Well, there you have it. Short and to the point, Johnny Depp revealed on Instagram that Warner Bros. has asked him to step down from his role as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. While he's committed to continuing his legal battle with Amber Heard and doesn't admit any wrongdoing, it's clear that the judgement made across the pond had a big affect on his role in the Wizarding World.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have made plenty of headlines recently for their ongoing legal battle. Namely because both actors brought plenty of wild evidence to court with Depp's libel suit against The Sun. In the end the publication won that court case, although there will plenty more from the former couple as they continue fighting within the United States legal system.

Johnny Depp's legal woes have been somewhat of a dark circle surrounding the Fantastic Beasts franchise. There was plenty of his backlash for his involvement following Amber Heard's accusations of abuse. And while J.K. Rowling herself backed the actor, it seems Warner Bros. ultimately made another decision regarding Depp's involvement as the property's main villain.

What Johnny Depp's departure from Fantastic Beasts 3 franchise means for series future remains to be seen, but the role of Grindelwald will presumably be recast in order for production to continue on time. While this might seem odd, it wouldn't be the fist time the character's appearance has changed. The end of the first movie revealed that Colin Farrell's Percival Graves was actually Grindelwald in disguise. So having a third actor occupy the role isn't completely out of left field.

Warner Bros. made its its statement about this news, courtesy of IndieWire. You can check out the studio's official response to this news, which also reveals that Fantastic Beasts 3 will be delayed as a result. It reads,

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.

Well, there you have it. The Fantastic Beasts franchise will get a brand new Grindelwald, and filming will continue as that process occurs. And now it looks like the highly anticipated threequel will now arrive in theaters in the summer of 2022, rather than its current release date of November 2021. This should presumably build in the cushion necessary to bring a new actor in to play the antagonist, while also completing the necessary footage.

Johnny Depp's departure from Fantastic Beasts is just the latest controversy surrounding the magical movie. Writer J.K. Rowling has been making plenty of headlines over controversial comments made about trangender women, which has been countered by lead actor Eddie Redmayne. Additionally, Ezra Miller recently went viral for a physical altercation with a fan. But production on the third movie is continuing on, while the fandom watches how it all plays out.

Per Warner Bros.' comments, Fantastic Beasts 3 will now arrive in the summer of 2022. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.