Johnny Depp Agrees to Leave 'Fantastic Beasts' Franchise After Losing Libel Battle
Warner Bros. Pictures

The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' actor announces he will be stepping down as Gellert Grindelwald in the 'Happy Potter' spin-off movies after he lost in a legal feud with a British tabloid.

AceShowbiz - Johnny Depp has exited the "Fantastic Beast" movie franchise after losing his U.K. libel battle over domestic violence allegations.

The actor sued tabloid bosses at The Sun after he was labelled a "wife beater" in a 2018 article related to claims made by his ex-spouse, Amber Heard, but the judge ruled against him on Monday (02Nov20).

Lawyers for Depp, who has always denied Heard's accusations, vowed to appeal the decision, but the legal drama has prompted Warner Bros. chiefs to cut ties with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star for their "Harry Potter" spin-off movies.

Depp took to Instagram on Friday to announce he was stepping down as Gellert Grindelwald in the third "Fantastic Beasts" film, as requested by studio executives.

He also used the post to express his gratitude to fans for their support, as the defiant 57 year old declared his intention to challenge the U.K. court ruling.

"Firstly, I'd like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty," he began the note. "I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days." The actor continued, "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."

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. officials have confirmed plans to recast Depp's role as the dark wizard, which he portrayed in 2016's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", and its 2018 sequel, "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald".

A statement reads, "Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date."

"Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production, and the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast."

"The film will debut in theatres worldwide in the summer of 2022."

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