Johnny Depp has departed from the role of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts 3 it has just been announced. Depp has taken to social media to make a statement regarding leaving the role, with the actor claiming that Warner Bros. asked him to step down, and he agreed.

"In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement. Firstly, 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."
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"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. 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."

Johnny Depp has so far played the villainous part twice, in 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the 2018 sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Until now, the intention had always been for Depp to reprise the role in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts 3, and presumably the rest of the franchise, but evidently something has changed.

Depp leaving the role comes closely following his recent loss in court. The actor recently lost a libel lawsuit against British tabloid "The Sun," which had characterized him as being a "wife beater." The court case is just one part of the ongoing battle between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard and her accusations of abuse.

While it is unknown why exactly Depp was asked by the studio to step away from the role of Grindelwald, it is likely that the decision was made due to the ongoing court cases in the actor's future. As seen in his statement, Depp not only plans to appeal the recent ruling in the libel case, but he will also be required to attend court in the defamation lawsuit that he has against his ex-wife, which is due to begin early next year. With so much going on in his personal life, it is possible that scheduling conflicts pushed Warner Bros. to ask Depp to vacate the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

How important the character is to the rest of the franchise is largely unknown but based on the events of Fantastic Beasts 2, Grindelwald will surely factor heavily in the next movie at the very least. How Depp will be replaced is also unknown, but Grindelwald has shown before that he is able to drastically change his appearance, having disguised himself as Colin Farrell's Percival Graves in the first Fantastic Beasts movie.

Fantastic Beasts 3 recently began filming after a production delay, and is set to star Jude Law as Dumbledore, Ezra Miller as Credence, Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein, Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, and Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein. Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling is penning the screenplay alongside Steve Kloves, with returning director David Yates at the helm.

While plot details for Fantastic Beasts 3 remain tightly under wraps, it is said to be a "build-up to World War II," and will include an extensive role for star Dan Fogler's muggle, Jacob Kowalski. "I have a lot to do in this one, which I'm really excited about," Fogler revealed earlier this year. He then went on to reveal that there are plans to make several more sequels before they're through. "The whole thing is building up to - knock on wood - we get to do five movies here." This comes to us from Johnny Depp's official Instagram account.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge