Why Is Johnny Depp Leaving the 'Fantastic Beasts' Film Franchise?

Days after Johnny Depp lost his libel case over domestic abuse allegations from ex-wife Amber Heard, the actor is leaving the Harry Potter spinoff franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, at the apparent request of Warner Bros.

On Friday morning, the actor, who played dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, announced that he was exiting the franchise.

"In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement," Depp began his note, shared to Instagram. "Firstly, I'd like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty. I have been humbled and moved by your 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 and agreed to that request," he continued.

Depp then spoke about the outcome of the libel suit. "The surreal judgement of the court in the U.K. will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal."

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp attends 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald' UK Premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on November 13, 2018 in London, England. Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

"My resolve remains strong," the actor concluded, "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."

Warner Bros. Studio confirmed Depp's exit from the blockbuster franchise in a statement.

"Johnny Depp will depart the 'Fantastic Beasts' franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date," the studio said via Variety. "Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production, and the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast. The film will debut in theaters worldwide in the summer of 2022."

Depp had a brief appearance towards the end of 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Two years later, he had more screen time in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Variety reported on Monday that Depp lost a libel case against News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun. In 2018, The Sun published an article which alleged that Depp had abused Heard and which labeled him as a "wife beater." The headline read: "Gone Potty: How Can J.K. Rowling Be 'Genuinely Happy' Casting Wife Beater Johnny Depp in the New Fantastic Beasts Film?"

The actor subsequently sued The Sun and its Executive Editor, Dan Wootton.

The judge ruled that "The claimant [Depp] has not succeeded in his action for libel. Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true."

Depp's lawyers noted that the actor plans to appeal the case.