Hours after Johnny Depp revealed his exit from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, a new petition for Warner Bros. to bring him back is already rapidly gaining signatures. On Friday, Depp took to Instagram to let his fans know that Warner Bros. had asked him to resign from his role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3 in light of recent events. "I have respected and agreed to that request," Depp wrote, with the studio confirming in an ensuing statement that the role is set to be recast.

Depp's forced ousting from Fantastic Beasts 3 comes days after a judge in the U.K. ruled against him in his libel lawsuit against News Group Newspapers, the company that owns The Sun, after the publication had referred to him as a "wifebeater" in a 2018 article. The comment derives from allegations made by Depp's ex-wife, Amber Heard, that he had physically abused her during their marriage. Amid the ongoing legal battle, audio recordings surfaced of Heard allegedly admitting to striking Depp; meanwhile, Heard argued in court that she was the one victimized by Depp on numerous occasions. Ultimately, the High Court of Justice ruled against Depp, though Depp and his legal team will appeal the decision.

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As Johnny Depp has alleged that Heard's claims had already gotten him fired from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, this now marks at least two major franchise roles the actor has been forced to leave. Previously, petitions had been created for Disney to change course and bring back Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, but they don't appear to have been successful. In a new petition launched by Lepplady Larson, fans are now asking for Warner Bros. not to make the same mistake, alleging that they're punishing a "wrongfully persecuted man."

"The damage is done. Not just to Johnny, but every male survivor of domestic abuse," the petition description reads. "By finding against Johnny and his preponderance of evidence in the face of Heard's abysmal lack of evidence, by saying that he believed Amber Heard because she's a woman, the judge has made it impossible for abused men to come forward in search of support. And by dumping Johnny, WB sends the message that they support abusers, and have no support whatsoever for the true victim."

It remains to be seen if Depp's appeal will produce better results in the U.K. court system. This won't be his only chance to legally clear his name, as Depp has also filed a defamation suit in the United States against Heard to the tune of $50 million. The lawsuit stems from an op-ed Heard had written for The Washington Post in 2018 in which she describes herself as a domestic abuse victim, inferring that she had been abused by Depp. Depp argues that Heard had in fact been the one verbally and physically abusive toward him, alleging that she had even severed the tip of his finger with a broken vodka bottle. For her part, Heard completely denies Depp's allegations and insists that he was the abuser.

On social media, the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp is also once again trending after the news broke of his Fantastic Beasts 3 exit, which caused the movie to get delayed until 2022. If you want to check out the petition for Warner Bros. to bring him back to the movie, you can find it at Change.org.

Jeremy Dick at Movieweb
Jeremy Dick