Johnny Depp 'asked to resign' from Fantastic Beasts film after losing High Court battle

6 November 2020, 16:42 | Updated: 6 November 2020, 17:19

Johnny Depp will stand down from his role in the new Warner Bros Fantastic Beasts film
Johnny Depp will stand down from his role in the new Warner Bros Fantastic Beasts film. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Johnny Depp has stood down from his role in the new Fantastic Beasts film after losing his High Court libel battle.

The actor said he was "asked to resign" from his role as Grindelwald in the franchise by Warner Bros.

Depp also criticised the "surreal judgement" against him in his High Court libel case and said he plans to appeal against the ruling which concluded that he assaulted ex-wife Amber Heard.

The 57-year-old sued The Sun's publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), over a 2018 article which labelled him a "wife beater".

Warner Bros said that the role would be recast following news that Depp will stand down and thanked him for his work on the films to date.

He shared a statement on Instagram that said: "In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement.

"Firstly I'd like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty.

"I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days.

"Secondly, 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 that and agreed to that request.

"Finally I wish to say this.

"The surreal judgement of the court in the UK will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal.

"My resolve remains strong and I intend to prove that the allegations against me are false. My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time.

"Thank you for reading.

"Sincerely Johnny Depp."

In a statement, the film studio said: "Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. 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 theatres worldwide in the summer of 2022."

Depp brought legal action against NGN over a column by The Sun's executive editor Dan Wootton in 2018, which referred to "overwhelming evidence" that the actor attacked Ms Heard, 34, during their relationship.

Mr Wootton asked how Harry Potter author JK Rowling could be "genuinely happy" that Depp had been cast in the latest film in the Fantastic Beasts spin-off franchise amid the allegations by Ms Heard.

In a ruling on Monday, Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the Pirates Of The Caribbean star's claim, saying NGN had proved what was in the article to be "substantially true".

He found that Depp assaulted Ms Heard on a dozen occasions, putting her in "fear for her life" during three of them.

This story is being updated.