Less than a decade ago, Johnny Depp was on top of the world as the highest-paid star in Hollywood and a genuine box office draw. Pirates of the Caribbean sequels Dead Man’s Chest and On Stranger Tides, along with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, gave him the unique distinction of being the only actor in history to have taken top billing in three movies that made over a billion dollars, a feat that’s only been bettered by Robert Downey Jr. thanks to his leading roles in the four Avengers blockbusters and Iron Man 3.
Things are looking markedly different for Depp these days, though, and having been dropped from his career-defining role as Jack Sparrow two years ago, the 57 year-old was also turfed out of Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts after being asked to resign from playing Grindelwald following the outcome of his libel trial against a British tabloid.
Biographical drama Minamata is the only project on his upcoming slate at the moment, and a series of critical and commercial duds over the last few years combined with his personal and legal troubles have rendered Depp washed up and irrelevant in the eyes of many people in the industry, despite fans staunchly supporting him throughout his recent woes.
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Insider Stacy Jones claims that the decision to drop him from Fantastic Beasts wasn’t made on a whim, either, and Warner Bros. had orchestrated Depp’s downfall by having plans already in place dependent on the outcome of his libel trial, with the judge’s verdict giving the studio the impetus they needed to get rid of him.
“It was in fact a very well-orchestrated plan, built over time with the lead-in to the trial. The reality is Warner Bros. had no choice in the matter to bid farewell to Depp. Fantastic Beasts is a family film, and physical abuse alongside drug and alcohol abuse are nonstarters for consideration, even when the role being played is that of a bad guy. While the fact that he still will be making his eight-figure fee likely made the pill of being asked, or more so told, to step aside and resign an easier one to swallow, that still isn’t easy on the ego or finances, especially with the knowledge that it may indeed be the last major deal for quite some time to come his way.”
Obviously, it can’t have been that well-orchestrated if they were still forced to pay the actor at least $10 million for one day of shooting, but given the negative publicity that’s been following Johnny Depp for years, it isn’t surprising that WB would have planned for all possible eventualities.