It’s been rumored before, but it was still shocking to hear now that it’s official. Johnny Depp today announced on social media that Warner Bros. has asked him to step aside from his role as Gellert Grindelwald for Fantastic Beasts 3 and future instalments of the Wizarding World franchise, and he’s respectfully agreed to their request. A reason for his dismissal hasn’t been given, but it’s not hard to connect the dots here.
This week, Depp’s UK libel case against British tabloid newspaper The Sun was thrown out, with the judge finding the Pirates of the Caribbean star guilty of domestically abusing ex-wife Amber Heard. Depp has presented much evidence suggesting that Heard emotionally and physically abused him throughout the case, though, which has ensured that many people remain firmly on his side.
Given this latest blow to his career and reputation, fans are now flocking to sign a new Change.org petition which calls for WB to rehire the actor as Grindelwald, as a symbol of support and solidarity with male victims of domestic abuse. At the time of writing, the petition has garnered thousands of signatures and its creator argues in the description that Depp is a “wrongfully persecuted man” and explains why his firing from Fantastic Beasts 3 isn’t right.
“[T]he damage is done. Not just to Johnny, but every male survivor of domestic abuse. By finding against Johnny and his preponderance of evidence in the face of Heard’s abysmal lack of evidence, by saying that he believed Amber Heard because she’s a woman, the judge has made it impossible for abused me[n] to come forward in search of support. And by dumping Johnny, WB sends the message that they support abusers, and have no support whatsoever for the true victim. That’s not acceptable, and we must come together and raise our voices. Let’s send WB the message that we DO support not just Johnny Depp but every survivor of domestic support, including Men.”
WB has released a brief statement since the actor’s Instagram post went up which confirms he’s left the franchise, though they didn’t mention that they were the ones to push him away. They also revealed that Fantastic Beasts 3 has been held back by another year and is now scheduled to arrive in theaters in summer 2022. The role of Grindelwald, meanwhile, will be recast, but as of yet, we don’t know who will step in to tackle it.