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Johnny Depp Exits 'Fantastic Beasts' Days After Losing Libel Case

Johnny Depp attends a film premiere in Zurich, Switzerland on Oct. 2.
Andreas Rentz
Getty Images for ZFF
Johnny Depp attends a film premiere in Zurich, Switzerland on Oct. 2.

Johnny Depp has left the cast of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, the actor and Warner Bros. studio announced separately on Friday. Depp played the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the first two film adaptations of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter prequel series.

posted to Instagram on Friday, Depp wrote that the studio behind Fantastic Beasts, Warner Bros., had requested his resignation. He wrote in part: "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."

The news comes days after the actor lost a high-profile libel case in the U.K. against the tabloid publication The Sun, which had published an article in 2018 about Depp's relationship with his ex-spouse Amber Heard. In that piece, the tabloid alleged that Depp was a "wife beater." In the British court case decided Monday, the judge found that what The Sun had published was substantially true, and that 12 of Heard's 14 allegations about episodes of physical assault were supportable. This was not a criminal trial against Depp.

In his Friday letter, Depp also wrote: "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. 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."

In a written statement, a spokesperson for Warner Bros. told NPR on Friday: "Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beastsfranchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date. Fantastic Beasts 3is currently in production, and the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast."

The next installment in the Fantastic Beastsfranchise was originally scheduled for release next November. However, the spokesperson for Warner Bros. told NPR that the studio has now pushed back the film's opening to the summer of 2022.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.