Johnny Depp Forced to Quit 'Fantastic Beasts' Franchise
In an unexpected move, Johnny Depp revealed on Instagram that Warner Bros. has asked him to resign from his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter prequel franchise.
After a cameo in 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and a more significant appearance as the titular character in 2018's Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Johnny Depp has resigned from his role as Gellert Grindelwald, the deadliest dark wizard in history before Voldemort rose to power. Filming on Fantastic Beasts 3 is already underway in London, with Warner Bros. confirming that the role will be recast quickly. Despite filming only one scene, Depp will still receive his full 8-figure salary for the film due to the terms of his contract.
Depp's removal stems from his contentious and high-profile divorce from actress Amber Heard, who plays Mera in the DC Extended Universe. In May 2016, she accused Depp of physically abusing her, but leaked conversations from earlier this year have her confessing to hitting Depp. The two have been engaged in lawsuits and a defamation trial for the past several years, with the defamation trial over a U.K. tabloid calling Depp a "wife-beater" ending a week ago. The verdict stated that the article was "substantially accurate", a massive loss for Depp, which prompted Warner Bros. to ask for his resignation.
While many fans vehemently defend Depp and are now demanding Heard be fired from her role in Aquaman 2, I don't think it's okay to ignore the role he played in their relationship. Both Depp and Heard seem to be at fault, but frankly I don't think it's necessarily relevant to why Warner Bros. demanded Depp's resignation. No matter what the truth is, the fact remains that Depp's image has been severely tarnished in recent years, and with the numerous lawsuits progressing, his personal life is casting a large shadow over a franchise already plagued with problems. Between Depp's issues, Crimes of Grindelwald's mixed critical reception and box office decline, the unaddressed video of Ezra Miller choking a fan in April, and J.K. Rowling's disgusting transphobia, the Fantastic Beasts franchise is already struggling less than halfway through its run. The third film has now been delayed to July 15th, 2022, nearly two years from its intended release date in November 2020.
Planned as a five-part series meant to span 19 years of wizarding history, Fantastic Beasts has found itself on the defensive after a second chapter that was too complicated for general audiences and riddled with plot holes for fans. The main storyline is supposed to chronicle Grindelwald's rise to power and his dominion of the wizarding world, before the ultimate duel between him and Dumbledore occurs in 1945, ending with Grindelwald's defeat and Dumbledore winning the allegiance of the Elder Wand. Dumbledore ignored pleas for help for years, and J.K. Rowling claimed that he avoided confronting Grindelwald since Dumbledore had been in love with him since they were teenagers. However, this seems to be another instance of Rowling's false representation and queerbaiting, as this plot thread was not addressed at all in Crimes of Grindelwald, with the movie instead inventing a "blood pact" that the two wizards made in the past preventing them from fighting each other.
I loved Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but was disappointed with the sequel's lack of a plot and the weak character development. Interesting ideas, like Queenie becoming Grindelwald's right-hand woman, were barely fleshed out, while several plot holes were created (with Minerva McGonagall being present at Hogwarts in the 1910s and Dumbledore having a secret brother being two of the most egregious examples). I was further disappointed with Rowling's weak attempts at representation, such as Nagini, Voldemort's snake, actually being an Asian woman with a blood curse who can transform into an animal before ultimately being enslaved by a genocidal maniac, not to mention the fact that the character is apparently Indonesian (with an Indian name) but played by a South Korean actress. I could write a whole article about the various issues with Nagini brought out of Crimes of Grindelwald, but I'll save that for a later time.
Personally, I never liked Depp in the role of Grindelwald. I didn't think his inclusion was necessary in the franchise, and while he was cast before the allegations against him came to light, I always wished he would be replaced. I hope Warner Bros. makes a smooth transition to the new actor, and I'm excited for them to have the opportunity to explore the character in Fantastic Beasts 3, which will hopefully actually start introducing something resembling a plot to the franchise. I think Amber Heard should step down from her role in the DCEU as well, since her character can easily be recast or replaced, and I also think she adds unnecessary drama to the Aquaman franchise (especially if she'll be appearing in court while filming the sequel). Hopefully Ezra Miller's actions will also be addressed soon since the radio silence from him and Warner Bros. isn't helping the situation.
What do you think of Johnny Depp's resignation? Are you excited for Fantastic Beasts 3, or are you growing tired of the franchise's continued problems like me? Comment below!
The third Fantastic Beasts film releases on July 15th, 2022.