Johnny Depp isn’t having the best month. A long-running defamation case in England didn’t rule in his favor, and now there are rumblings that one of his tentpole franchises, a set of movies his face and character have been synonymous with, doesn’t want him back.
Back in May, Disney announced it would be rebooting Pirates of the Caribbean with a female lead. And though Johnny Depp wasn’t tapped to star in the movie, rumors had it that he would, at the very least, make a cameo in the film. That made a lot of sense considering he’d carried the franchise through five movies over roughly 14 years as Captain Jack Sparrow.
Johnny Depp starred in 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl which earned a staggering $650 million dollars at the box office and launched the franchise into the stratosphere. From there they followed up with Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End, On Stranger Tides, and finally finished things off in 2017 with Dead Men Tell No Tales. In all, the Pirates movies have earned $4.5 billion at the box office. It’s been a remarkable run and has as much to do with what Depp brought to the swashbuckling role as anything else. He really did appear made for the part, scarves, eyeliner and all.
But for Johnny Depp, that run is all but assuredly over. The ouster stems from allegations from a lawsuit Depp filed back in 2018. It was then that the British tabloid The Sun, printed a story calling the actor a “wife-beater” while in his relationship with Amber Heard. Depp contended this amounted to libel while The Sun’s defense centered around the idea that it’s not libel if it’s true.
What unfolded was a truly bizarre tale that ultimately litigated all of the weird, and disturbing parts of Depp and Heard’s relationship. Sometimes the stories spilled out with laughs like when he passed out covered in ice cream. But other allegations were anything but, with Heard detailing numerous times when Depp was abusive toward her. The Judge in the case ruled in The Sun’s favor and Johnny Depp’s reputation has taken the requisite hit.
From the rumor mill, The Pirates of the Caribbean folks are choosing to move away from Depp directly as a result of this latest case. That being said, Depp claims the judge’s ruling was made in error, even saying Amber Heard lied in her testimony. Along with that, he’s also suing Heard in the States for a cool $50 million over an article she submitted to the Washington Post with similar allegations about his abusive ways. That’s yet to be litigated and the trial has been pushed back until at least 2021. Even if he were to win that, one has to think his name is persona non grata among the Hollywood crowd with the negative buzz alone.
Pirates of the Caribbean isn’t the only franchise distancing itself from Johnny Depp. Just yesterday it was reported that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them might give him the ax as well. Depp plays Grindelwald, Dumbledore’s (and others) primary antagonist in the movie. Unlike the Pirates movie, this distancing has much bigger ramifications. For starters, Depp plays a major role in the story whereas in Pirates he was likely nothing more than a bit part. He had originally filed a case delay to make sure he could take part in the filming. But that could be all for naught if he’s cut out entirely.
It’s unclear what happens with Depp in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3. It is currently fully cast, in pre-production, and is slated for a release on November 21st of next year. It’s likely not too late to consider an overhaul to the character if they move on without Depp, but it would mark a significant shift. Considering both Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantastic Beasts are owned by Disney, I don’t see how one movie would choose to omit him while the other kept him around. It’s just a terrible situation through and through.
In all, this has been a rough year for Johnny Depp who has no other work currently in the pipeline (according to IMDB) with maybe the prospect of a significant dry spell considering the accusations, court rulings, and heaps of negative press.