Johnny Depp is resigning from the Fantastic Beasts movie franchise after being requested to do so by Warner Bros.
Depp will no longer be portraying the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the films, as he confirmed himself on his Instagram account.
“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,” he wrote on Friday.
“I’d like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty. I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days.
“Finally, I wish to say this. 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.”
This abrupt exit from the movies comes days after he lost his libel case against U.K. tabloid The Sun over a 2018 article describing him as a “wife beater.”
In his decision, Justice Andrew Nicol said that the defendants had proved that what they published was “substantially true” during a high-profile trial in London over the summer that included lurid — and irreconcilable — accounts from Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard in which each accused the other of abuse.
“I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp have been proved to the civil standard,” Nicol wrote in his ruling.
Depp sued News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the newspaper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that accused him of assaulting fellow actor Heard. For now, the ruling represents a big blow to Depp’s reputation and to his finances that could seriously damage his lucrative movie career — his removal from the Fantastic Beasts franchise is the first knock against him.
The actor’s lawyers said they plan to appeal the ruling.
A lawyer for Depp, 57, described the decision as “perverse as it is bewildering.”
“The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr. Depp not to appeal this decision,” Jenny Afia said in a statement.
Warner Bros., the studio behind the franchise, confirmed Depp will no longer star and said he will be recast before the third film in 2022, according to Variety.
“Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date,” the studio said in a statement to the publication.
At the heart of the Sun’s characterization of Depp as a “wife beater” were allegations it printed that the actor had assaulted Heard 14 times in locations around the world, including a “three-day hostage situation” that Heard said took place in Australia while Depp was filming a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Heard, 34, said the abuse was fuelled by Depp’s drug and alcohol use and that he could turn into “the monster” when under the influence. She alleged that at various times between 2013 and 2016 he hit, slapped and shoved her, pulled her hair and threw bottles at her.
Depp acknowledged in court taking marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and magic mushrooms, and became addicted to opioid painkillers. But he added: “I am certainly not a violent person, especially with women.”
— With files from The Associated Press