Amber Heard is currently leading a $50 million defamation case against ex-husband Johnny Depp, planned to hit Virginia courts next month, which seems like the drama between the former couple isn’t likely to die down any time soon. This is incredibly problematic for Warner Bros., who have previously cast both Amber Heard and Johnny Depp in two of their biggest franchises. But if a new rumor is to be believed, Warner Bros. might have found a way to move past Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, if need be.
According to Grace Randolph, host of the Beyond the Trailer YouTube show, Warner Bros. is already thinking a few steps ahead. In a tweet, Randolph wrote:
While Johnny Depp is being called to appear in court for the Amber Heard defamation case from November 10-12, 2020 in Fairfax County, Virginia, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3, in which Depp plays Gellert Grindelwald, is currently shooting in the United Kingdom. Warner Bros.’ legal team wrote a letter on September 8 stating, “we require Mr. Depp to be in the United Kingdom from September 17 through the anticipated end of production in mid-February, 2021.” As of right now, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3 is scheduled for a November 12, 2021 release.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. was hoping last year that Aquaman 2 would begin filming in early 2021, but it’s unclear if the COVID-19 pandemic has changed those plans. Aquaman 2 is planned for a December 16, 2022 release date, which gives that production far more leeway in terms of changes than Fantastic Beasts 3, and as of now, Amber Heard is planned to return as Mera.
Of course, Randolph’s post is simply making a lot of obvious points, so it’s not like any of this information is much of a stretch. It would be strange for Johnny Depp not to return in Fantastic Beasts, considering his character is the primary villain, and it would be equally odd if Amber Heard disappeared for Aquaman 2. Plus, it’s only natural that Warner Bros. would try and minimize their screen time if their latest court appearance becomes too negative. As was seen at the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Grindelwald can change his appearance from Colin Farrell to Johnny Depp, so who’s to say he couldn’t change back. Finally, saying there will be a new female character in Aquaman 2 seems like sort of a given, considering most superhero films do introduce new characters in sequels.
All of Randolph’s points about Amber Heard and Johnny Depp make sense and aren’t really earth-shattering revelations, yet it still should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, Randolph posted a video on her channel questioning the film’s production due to additional photography and the addition of Randall Park as the character of Dr. Stephen Shin.
However, the information was false, to the point that director James Wan called out Randolph in a tweet, saying “Hiya Grace! Love your stuff, so I’ll speak up. I didn’t add a new character now, Dr. Shin was in the script since day one. I had cast Randall a year ago in Aust (I’m a big fan of his/love FOTB), but I didn’t shoot his stuff till now. Hence, it’s literally “pickups” w him. Cheers.” Park also went on to say that almost all of his films have required pickups. Also back in 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn called out Randolph on Twitter, saying “…of all the journalists I’ve called out on making up info or misquoting me @GraceRandolph is the only one to not respond.”
Yet the back-and-forth between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard doesn’t seem to have had any change on previous installments of these franchises. In May of 2016, Amber Heard filed a temporary restraining order against Johnny Depp, yet that didn’t stop the release of 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, or seemingly minimize his role as the title character in 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Similarly, their problems didn’t seem to force any changes in 2018’s Aquaman.
The battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has been going for quite some time now, with both sides alleging abuse from the other, leading to the current defamation lawsuit. This latest trial has already been pushed twice due to coronavirus not allowing the Virginia Supreme Court to conduct jury trials. As of right now, the Virginia trial is scheduled to run for three weeks, although it’s not clear if the trial might be pushed even further to allow Johnny Depp and Amber Heard to film their various films for Warner Bros.