The cinematic continuation of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter extended universe -- the Fantastic Beasts film series -- received a major shake-up on Friday. As announced on his own Instagram account, actor Johnny Depp, who portrayed the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the first two installments of the series, has officially made his exit from the franchise.
"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," wrote the 57-year-old.
His announcement came just days after the Edward Scissorhands and Pirates of the Caribbean star failed in his libel case against the British publication, The Sun, which referred to him as a "wife beater" in the headline of an April 2018 article. Following a lengthy legal battle, the court ultimately ruled not to award Depp any compensation for purported damages to his reputation.
The Sun's article, which was titled "Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be 'genuinely happy' casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?" referenced allegations made by Depp's former wife, Aquaman actress Amber Heard, that he had physically assaulted her on multiple occasions. Heard and a number of friends, family members and former employers offered testimony during the trial.
Depp made reference to the decision in his Instagram statement, maintaining his innocence and indicating that he would appeal the court's decision.
"The surreal judgment of the court in the U.K. will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal," he wrote. "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."
He also thanked his fans for their support and the messages of "love and concern" he had received from them.
The Grindelwald character was initially referenced in the first book of Rowling's "Wizarding World" series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and would later appear in other Harry Potter books. A young Grindelwald was portrayed by Jamie Campbell Bower during a flashback sequence in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, while actor Michael Byrne played a much older version of the character in another scene, as noted by IMDB.
Depp's first appearance as the character came in a short cameo near the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He would later reprise the role in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
As Grindelwald is the primary antagonist of the film series, Warner Bros. will have to recast the part for future installments.