Just days after losing his libel case against The Sun, who referred to him as a “wife beater,” Johnny Depp announced last week that he would no longer be playing Gellert Grindelwald in Warner Bros. FANTASTIC BEASTS franchise after the studio asked him to resign. “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,” wrote Depp in an Instagram post. Warner Bros. thanked the actor for his work on the films to date, and also announced that the role of Grindelwald will soon be recast.
Production on FANTASTIC BEASTS 3 is currently underway, and before he was asked to step down, Johnny Depp had already shot one scene for the film. Although Johnny Depp’s ongoing legal battles against former wife Amber Heard have created something of a public relations nightmare for Warner Bros. (not to mention J.K. Rowling’s recent comments), a new report from THR says that the studio “wanted to allow due process to take its course before making a decision on the embattled star’s future in the franchise.” Once Depp’s defamation claims were dismissed, Warner Bros. chief Toby Emmerich made the call that led to Depp’s exit. That said, Johnny Depp will still be receiving his full salary, said to be somewhere in the realm of eight-figures, as the actor had a pay-or-play contract with the studio, which means that he’s required to be fully compensated whether or not the film is made or even if his role is recast. J.K. Rowling, who had previously supported Depp’s involvement in the franchise, reportedly “did not push back” when Warner Bros. said they would be asking the actor to exit.
THR added that FANTASTIC BEASTS 3 has been described as a “three-hander,” with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Eddie Redmayne sharing equal screen time. With Depp no longer in the picture and the role of Grindelwald growing larger, we’ll likely be hearing who will be playing the Dark Wizard sooner rather than later. FANTASTIC BEASTS 3 was initially slated to hit theaters on November 12, 2021, but Warner Bros. shifted the film to July 15, 2022 earlier today.