Harry Potter spinoff "Fantastic Beasts" will recast the character of Gellert Grindelwald after actor Johnny Depp said he would leave the franchise at the request of the studio. The news comes days after a U.K. judge dismissed Depp's libel suit against a British publisher.
"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," Depp wrote on Instagram.
In a statement to CBS News, a Warner Bros. spokesperson confirmed that Depp was no longer attached to the role: "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 theaters worldwide in the summer of 2022."
Depp sued News Group Newspapers, the publisher of The Sun, for publishing an article that described him as a "wife beater." The story, which ran in 2018, detailed the actor's allegedly contentious relationship with his now-ex-wife, Amber Heard. In a ruling Monday, High Court Judge Andrew Nicol dismissed Depp's claims of libel, saying he believed the article was "substantially true."
"I accept her evidence of the nature of the assaults he committed against her. They must have been terrifying. I accept that Mr. Depp put her in fear of her life," Nicol wrote.
Depp has denied the claims and on Friday said he plans to appeal the ruling. "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," he wrote. "My resolve remains strong and I intended to prove that the allegations against me are false. My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time."
A Harry Potter franchise spinoff, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" depicts the life of young wizard Newt Scamander, as he and his cohort of magical creatures try to save the wizarding world against the dark wizard Grindelwald. A mysterious but already defeated wizard in the original Harry Potter films, Grindelwald operates in the "Fantastic Beasts" franchise as the main antagonist, a role that will now be recast.