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Culture

Johnny Depp Resigns From The ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Franchise After Losing Libel Suit

By Paula Gallagher·· 3 min read
Johnny Depp Loses Libel Suit And His Role In the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Franchise

For years, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s toxic relationship has been making headlines.

Shortly after marrying in 2015, Heard acquired a temporary domestic violence restraining order against Depp in May 2016, and they divorced in August 2016. Depp paid Heard a $7 million divorce settlement.

In December 2018, Heard wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post, describing herself as a domestic abuse victim. And, although the article didn’t name Depp, the allegations that Depp abused her haven’t stopped since. 

This past Monday, November 2, Depp lost his libel case against British newspaper, The Sun, whom Depp was suing for describing him as a "wife-beater" in 2018. Following this loss, Warner Brothers film studio asked Depp to step down from his role as the villain Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise.

Depp agreed, posting a statement on Instagram today. 

Depp played Grindelwald in the first two installments of the Harry Potter spinoff series: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018). Authoress J.K. Rowling had defended Depp and his role in the films in 2017, and Depp was set to return as Grindelwald in the third film — until now. Warner Brothers will recast the role for the third film, planned for a 2022 release.

In response to losing the libel case, Depp’s lawyers said the court’s decision was "as perverse as it is bewildering" and that they planned to appeal. 

"Most troubling is the Judge’s reliance on the testimony of Amber Heard, and corresponding disregard of the mountain of counter-evidence from police officers, medical practitioners, her own former assistant, other unchallenged witnesses and an array of documentary evidence which completely undermined the allegations, point by point," said attorney Jenny Afia in a written statement.

PR guru Mark Borkowski commented on the case, saying, “He had to win this. Even if he had won there would still be questions. But now he’s lost he hasn’t even got a Pyrrhic victory. He has just switched the volume on [his] lifestyle. And this makes Amber Heard a martyr and it makes him something much darker than just a pantomime villain. His brand had a sort of edge and that edge now has turned to something that is really ugly and abusive.” 

Depp will get another chance to clear his name in May 2021, when a Virginia court will hear his $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard. Depp is seeking reparations for the damage he suffered from her 2018 Washington Post op-ed. Depp was dropped from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise just days after Heard’s op-ed was published.

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