Fantastic Beasts Creator J.K. Rowling Reportedly Didn't Dispute Johnny Depp's Exit

Johnny Depp took to Instagram to reveal that he was backing out of Fantastic Beasts 3 at the request of Warner Bros. last week, with a new report from The Hollywood Reporter claiming that franchise creator J.K. Rowling didn't attempt to talk the studio out of this request. With the actor being connected to controversy for years, Rowling has regularly supported Depp's involvement in the franchise, but with the author herself also regularly facing backlash from fans, it's possible that she didn't want to weigh in on the matter and potentially complicate her own connection to Warner Bros. The studio has yet to announce who will be taking over the role of Gellert Grindelwald.

Of the situation, the outlet noted, "One source says that Fantastic Beasts writer J.K. Rowling — Depp’s highest-profile backer — did not push back on Warners’ move to cut the actor from the franchise."

Depp debuted in the franchise in the final moments of 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, with that year also being when Depp's then-wife Amber Heard made claims of domestic violence against him. Due to these allegations, fans have been hoping to see the actor removed from the series for years, only for Rowling's remarks to profess her excitement at having him in the series.

"When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he'd be wonderful in the role," Rowling shared on social media back in 2017. "However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise."

She added, "Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies."

In Warner Bros. statement about the matter, they avoided directly addressing the reason for his departure.

“Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date,” the studio shared. “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.”

Rowling has regularly riled up fans with comments she makes directly about the Harry Potter franchise, but much of that animosity towards the creator came to a head earlier this year when she made a number of transphobic remarks on social media, with follow-up comments further cementing her position. Even series stars like Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have spoken out against her remarks.

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Fantastic Beasts 3 is set to hit theaters on July 15, 2022.

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