Johnny Depp Forced to Exit Fantastic Beasts 3 After Losing Libel Case

Johnny Depp has been forced to quit the upcoming third Fantastic Beasts film after losing his libel case involving allegations of assault made by ex-wife Amber Heard.

By Corinne Heller Nov 06, 2020 6:33 PMTags
Watch: Johnny Depp Resigns From "Fantastic Beasts" Films

Johnny Depp has been forced to walk away from the upcoming third Fantastic Beasts film after losing his libel case involving allegations of assault made by ex-wife Amber Heard

"Firstly, I'd like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty," the actor, who played Grindelwald in the Harry Potter prequels, began a statement on Instagram Nov. 6. "I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days. Secondly, 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." 

"Finally, I wish to say this. My resolve remains strong and I intend to prove that the allegations against me are false," he continued. "My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time."

Warner Bros. the studio behind the franchise, issued a statement of its own. "We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date," the message read. "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."

Johnny Depp & Amber Heard: Romance Rewind

Depp had sued the U.K.-based News Group Newspapers over a 2018 The Sun article that claimed he had acted violently towards Heard On Monday, Nov. 2, a British High Court judge ruled that The Sun's allegations, which labeled Depp a "wife beater," were "substantially true," dismissing the actor's libel claim.

Depp has repeatedly denied all allegations that he attacked or abused the actress, claiming she was the one who assaulted him. Heard said in her testimony she punched Depp in 2015 because she feared he would push her sister downstairs. He also accused the actress of throwing a vodka bottle at him during an argument, severing the tip of his finger. Heard claimed Depp threw bottles at her "like grenades or bombs" and that she "only threw things to escape Johnny when he was beating me up." 

His lawyer said in a statement that the ruling against the actor in the libel case was "as perverse as it is bewildering," and has vowed to appeal.

Depp's lawyer said, "Most troubling is the Judge's reliance on the testimony of Amber Heard, and corresponding disregard of the mountain of counter-evidence from police officers, medical practitioners, her own former assistant, other unchallenged witnesses and an array of documentary evidence which completely undermined the allegations, point by point."

Lester Cohen/Amanda Edwards/WireImage

Heard first publicly accused Depp of domestic abuse when she filed for divorce in 2016 and filed a restraining order against him. She later dismissed it as part of a $7 million divorce settlement.

Depp and Heard are currently in the midst of another court battle over her allegations against him. In 2019, he filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit in Virginia against the actress after she wrote a Washington Post op-ed depicting herself as a domestic abuse victim, without naming Depp. The case is pending.

In response to the lawsuit, Heard's attorney said in a statement in 2019, "This frivolous action is just the latest of Johnny Depp's repeated efforts to silence Amber Heard. She will not be silenced. Mr. Depp's actions prove he is unable to accept the truth of his ongoing abusive behavior. But while he appears hell-bent on achieving self destruction, we will prevail in defeating this groundless lawsuit and ending the continued vile harassment of my client by Mr. Depp and his legal team."