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Johnny Depp leaves Fantastic Beasts films on Warner Bros' request

The move follows the Pirates of the Caribbean actor losing a libel suit against a British newspaper.


Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in the second Fantastic Beasts movie.

Warner Bros

The Harry Potter universe Fantastic Beasts movies will recast dark wizard villain Gellert Grindelwald now that Johnny Depp has been asked to step down. Warner Bros. asked him to leave the film franchise, the actor confirmed on Instagram Friday.

"In light of recent events ... 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 said.

Warner Bros. said the third movie in the franchise is already in production. "We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date," a WB spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "The role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast."

The request from the movie studio came after Depp lost a libel lawsuit against UK newspaper The Sun earlier this week. The paper had alleged Depp was an abusive husband toward ex-wife Amber Heard, allegations that have been repeatedly denied by Depp. Depp said Friday he plans to appeal the judgment.

Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts author JK Rowling in 2017 defended the casting of Depp, saying at the time she was "genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies."

The third Fantastic Beasts film is slated for release in summer 2022, and will reportedly be set in Brazil this time. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which came out in 2016, was set in New York in 1927, while Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald -- released in 2018 -- was set in Paris.