Johnny Depp is having a rough month. From an adverse ruling in a lawsuit in Britain to being dropped from one of his flagship franchises, this hasn’t been the best month for the actor. Now, things are getting even worse with the recent news that he’s being fully recast in Fantastic Beasts 3.
A few months ago, Johnny Depp entered into a lawsuit against the British tabloid The Sun, with Depp contending that when the paper called him a “wife-beater,” it amounted to libel and defamation of his character. The accusation stemmed from allegations his ex-wife Amber Heard made about Depp’s abusive nature while they were married. The case wasn’t a good look for either side, with Depp coming off particularly bad after both sides had stated their claims.
In the hearings that followed, the defense used several pieces of evidence against Johnny Depp, including photos of drug use and alcohol abuse. There were also text messages released in the case that included Depp making shockingly violent threats against Heard. Finally, there were detailed allegations and evidence of physical abuse. In the end, Depp lost the libel case against The Sun on November 3rd, which was tantamount to a ruling saying he was, in fact, an abuser.
Following that ruling, it didn’t take long for Johnny Depp to become persona non grata in Hollywood. First, he was fired from the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean franchise reboot. Considering his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in that movie was likely only going to be a cameo as a hat-tip to the previous run of films, this loss wasn’t much of a surprise.
The bigger news came late last week when it was announced Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3 would be dropping Johnny Depp from the franchise. This movie was already well into production and filming with Depp playing a much bigger role as Gellert Grindewald, the franchise’s primary antagonist. It’s one thing to drop an actor from a cameo in a movie that is in pre-production. Having to recast and potentially rework a film that is currently shooting due to recasting a major character in the series is another story altogether.
Warner Bros announced that they will indeed recast the role, seeing as how the trajectory of the films doesn’t leave much room for the character of Grindewald to be written out completely. They haven’t said exactly how they plan to recast Johnny Depp’s role, or who would replace Depp, only that the process of replacing the actor has already begun.
Johnny Depp’s court case and legal issues weren’t the only things holding up the works for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3. Pandemic closings and other issues had delayed production, pushing back the proposed release date to the summer of 2020. Originally, the plan had been for the third installment to hit theaters in November 2021, but that likely won’t happen at this point, and will likely push the fourth and fifth planned films in the franchise even further into the future.
Currently, there isn’t much in the way of rumors on who will take over Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald, though the studio might be afforded at least a little bit of latitude in explaining the sudden shift in characters midway through the franchise. In the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Johnny Depp was revealed as Grindewald only at the end of the movie, when it was shown that he had been “in disguise” as Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves. Because the wizarding world has somewhat established guidelines of characters changing their appearance – through magic or other means – it might not take a monumental leap in logic to explain why Depp is no longer the face of the character.
In any other franchise, having a key character change at certain points in the timeline would be very problematic. That might not be the case here, even though Johnny Depp is being recast. In the world of magic and wizardry, the rules are a little looser, and getting a new Grindelwald might be as easy as the flick of a wand. But one thing is for certain, Johnny Depp has left the wizarding world for good, even if his character of Grindelwald will still be a major part of this prequel series.