For anyone who loves the Fantastic Beasts/Harry Potter and Aquaman movies, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about the recent change, the potential change, and the petition for change in casting about these film franchises.
The talk had been a long time coming, but do you know the entire story behind all the chaos?
No? Well, pull up a chair and get ready because I’ve got A LOT of tea to spill.
Let’s start with the recent event that set off my need to write all this up.
On November 2, 2020, Judge Andrew Nicol ruled against Johnny Depp‘s defamation and libel case against The Sun, a British newspaper, and executive editor and author, Dan Wootton for the article Wootton penned on April 27, 2018.
The story titled, “How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
Wootton claimed that Depp beat his ex-wife, Amber Heard, to whom Depp lived with from 2012-2016 and (legally) married 2015-2017.
(Note: Defamation of character occurs when something false about someone is made public, but the person stating it knows it’s false or if the information provided has questionable roots but was presented as valid without verifying it. Libel is when defamation is printed. Slander is when it’s verbally stated.)
Legally speaking, this ruling regarding The Sun‘s article, means this: Judge Andrew Nicol, who presided over the case, wrote in his 129-page decision that the testimony, interviews, and reports the paper used as their resources were valid (no libel). The evidence provided by Depp’s team didn’t negate that enough for him to feel The Sun‘s article had reported anything wrong.
He stated, “I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard. The claimant has not succeeded in his action for libel.”
Simply stated- with the information Wootton had about the Depp/Heard relationship, the judge said the article in question was not based on information Wootton maliciously knew to be totally or possibly false.
Depp’s attorneys are appealing the ruling.
Does this mean Depp is guilty of spousal abuse? Regarding this case, no, and whether or not the information is totally or partially true or not at all, the potential damage to Depp’s and Heard’s careers, are exponential.
Which brings me to recent casting change events.
Despite having Harry Potter creator JK Rowling’s full support over the past few years, executives at Warner Brothers had enough of Depp’s private life being full blown front page news.
Within days of Judge Nicol’s ruling studio executives asked Depp to resign.
Depp who’d played dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, in the first two Fantastic Beasts movies, amicably exited the project, leaving a big question mark on who’d play the antagonist for the next three films in the series.
Filming began in September, but If you’re concerned about the cast and crew having to reshoot a bunch of Depp’s scenes, don’t worry. Depp had only one scene filmed since production began, but he will get paid his entire salary-$10+ million per the pay or play clause in his contract.
Multiple actors are rumored to be considered for the role of Grindelwald, but only Mads Mikkelson has been the only one in early talks, that we know of at the time of writing this.
Additional actors that fans have suggested are Bill Skaarsgard, Michael Fassbender, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Joaquin Phoenix, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hiddleston, Til Schweiger, Oliver Massuci, Michael Sheen, James McAvoy, Ewan McGregor, Joseph Fiennes (his brother Ralph played Voldermort), Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Colin Firth, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Hardy, Matt Boomer, Michael Sheen, Matt Smith, Dan Stevens, Jake Gyllenhaal, Christian Bale, and even Tilda Swinson.
There’s also been online chatter to bring back Colin Farrel or have Jamie Campbell Bowen, who plays younger Grindelwald, to play the older version.
But as we all predict who will replace Depp, he’d already broken the news to his Instagram followers on November 6th, 2020 with this post:
In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement.
Firstly, I’d like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty.
I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the past 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.
Finally, I wish to say this.
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.
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.
Thank you for reading
But that was not the last bit of drama to be part of what’s only happened since the ruling.
Oh no, friends. The media frenzy wasn’t going anywhere.
Depp’s massive fanbase started the #JusticeforJohnnyDepp social media campaign and began a petition on Change.org to have Heard removed from the Aquaman 2 movie that’s due to start filming in 2021.
As of writing this article, the petition had close to 1.5 million signatures and multiple posts of support for him.
Additionally, another petition started November 13, 2020, to bring Depp back to the Fantastic Beasts franchise was started. The goal for signatures in support of the petition is 300,000. Last I checked, they have close to 225,000.
Regarding his libel suit, there was a call for a retrial of the case due to the fact, Judge Nicol’s son works for The Sun and therefore he had a built in conflict of interest.
Seriously, the details of this situation changes daily.
Heard has also made a statement about the Change.org petition to have her removed from Aquaman 2. Heard told Entertainment Weekly, “Paid rumors and paid campaigns on social medial don’t dictate (casting decisions) because they have no basis in reality. Only the fans actually made Aquaman and Aquaman 2 happen. I’m excited to get started this year.”
Note that no greenlight, cast confirmation, or date for movie release for Aquaman 2 has been giving as of this time, but with the pandemic, these dates are most likely in flux.
Whether or agree or disagree with the decision by studio executives to ask Depp to resign and/or if you feel Heard should asked to resign, more than likely, this will all come down to money and what the best PR will be for each of the projects.
With the Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald grossing (worldwide) over $654 million and Aquaman grossing (worldwide) over $1.1 billion, a massive fanbases for both franchises, there are HUGE decisions to be made by Warner Brothers and there will not be a one size fits all situation.
And if that’s not enough legality news about Depp and Heard, as of writing today, details of another court case between the two that swung in Depp’s direction, but I will get to that momentarily.
Please know, I’m reporting what has been in the press, not what I think happened. If I’ve left any factual information out, please post in the comments below and I will update as quickly as I can.
Ready for the timeline of events that lead us all here?
Okay, deep breath. Here we go:
2009-Johnny Depp and Amber Heard officially meet on the set of The Rum Diary, a movie based on Hunter S. Thompson’s book by the same name.
At the time of filming, Depp had been with French actress Vanessa Paradis since 1998. They have two children, Lily-Rose (born 1999) and Jack (born 2002).
Heard had been dating photographer girlfriend, Tasya van Ree since 2008. At this point, Heard was one of the few actresses that was openly bisexual.
2009 September–A report of Heard being arrested and charged with physically assaulting van Ree at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, but the charges were later dropped by van Ree, who said Heard was “wrongfully accused.”
2011–The Rum Diary is released to moderate reviews. In an interview with British Vogue, Heard stated working with Johnny Depp “was torture. It was better than I ever imagined, which is saying something.”
Late 2011 to early 2012–Depp and Heard were seen together but made nothing official.
During this time, Vanessa Paradis announced she and Depp had ended their 14 year relationship.
Heard ended her relationship with van Ree.
Both Paradis and van Ree publicly state they are on friendly terms with their ex’s, but neither discuss the reasons for the breakups.
2012–Depp and Heard move in together.
2013-According to court documents, Heard states this was the first incidence of physical violence by Deep toward her. She claimed he slapped her three times after she made a comment about the tattoo he’d altered after dating Winona Ryder.
2014-Depp and Heard make their relationship official by appearing together at The Art of Elysium’s 7th Annual HEAVEN Gala presented by Mercedes-Benz. Heard was spotted wearing a large engagement ring during the gala and spent part of the time covering it up.
Several days later when the news of their engagement broke, a source told People Magazine, “Of course, they couldn’t be happier to be engaged and excited to share the rest of their lives together,’ a source told the magazine.
“Amber has really taken well to the kids and really enjoys spending time with them. And she’s even taken Lily shopping on her own for some bonding time.”
2015 February 3— Depp and Heard married on Depp’s private Bahamas Island in front of a small group of friends.
2015 March 3-5— Heard claims Depp kept her in a “three-day hostage situation” on their Australian trip. Heard claims Depp physically and verbally abused her during this time while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Depp denies this and claimed Heard lost her temper during an argument.
Not long after that incident, Depp suffers a hand injury that requires surgical correction. Disney states that Depp’s injury did not occur on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
The injury will not delay filming.
2015 April–Depp and Heard arrive in Australia and fail claim their dogs to customs officials or put their dogs in the required 10-day quarantine. Heard was charged with bringing the dogs in country illegally. Prison time of up to ten years could have been handed down for both, but instead they were let off the hook and made this weird video apology.
(Stephen Colbert made a parody of this as. You can find it here.)
Okay, so far, so good? All seemed decently good for these two from what the outside world saw so of course, things were not.
2016 May 21— Per an article from People Magazine the following was released from an LA Police Department Spokesperson after the Depp/Heard event in question:
2016 May 22–Heard claimed she and Depp had an argument where it escalated and Depp destroyed property within their Los Angeles penthouse. The two are officially separated.
2016 May 23–After fifteen months of marriage, Heard filed for divorce stating Irreconcilable Differences. Pretty standard Hollywood type terminology regarding divorce, but what came a few days later was really fueled a lot more headlines.
2016 May 27–Heard requested and was awarded a temporary restraining order against Depp. She alleged he physically abused her when he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
She claimed he threw a phone at her that hit her in the face. The incident lead to facial bruising.
Depp could not directly contact Heard or come within 100 yards of her.
Depp denied ever abusing Heard and accused her of seeking a large divorce settlement.
An investigation into the domestic incident radio call states that no criminal had occurred. The police who investigated the disturbance did not state any violence had occurred.
2016 August 16–The two reached a divorce settlement of $7 million awarded to Heard. She withdrew the domestic violence restringing order with prejudice meaning she cannot file it again for that specific reason or attached to this case. She also withdrew the $50,000/month spousal support petition.
They release a joint statement about their divorce stating: “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm. Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future. Amber will be donating financial proceeds from the divorce to a charity. There will be no further public statements about this matter.”
According to People Magazine, Heard donates her entire $7 million settlement to multiple charities including Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and others that focus on the prevention and education of domestic violence programs.
2017 January–Divorce finalized. Depp and Heard included a non-disparagement clause in their divorce settlement. That meant neither of them can talk negatively about the other in the press.
Now here’s where more people get in on the drama and that non-disparagement clause comes into play, but first another problem for Depp.
2017 January–Depp sued his business managers, The Mandel Company (TMC), because he claimed they’d failed to properly pay his taxes on his behalf, made unauthorized loads, and overpaid security and other services, costing him millions.
TMC filed a cross complaint that stated they’d done everything in their power to keep his finances in check, but Depp’s $2million/month spending “should be a wake up call to learn better budgeting.”
2017 December–Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts creator, JK Rowlings, publicly states her support for Depp, despite fan outcry to replace him in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movie, due to the domestic abuse allegations made by Heard. Rowling as well as studio executives and director David Yates were reported to have discussed replacing Depp at one point, but with the information they, had they were happy to have Depp in the movie. The full statement is here.
2018 April 27—The Sun article about Johnny Depp abusing Amber Heard was published.
2018 April 28–The words “wife beater” are removed from the article’s headline and not included in the print edition.
2018 June 1–Depp files a libel lawsuit against News Group Network.
2018 October–In an interview with British GQ, the article “Johnny Depp Will Not Be Buried” by Johnathan Heaf, Depp went into great detail about his career, his kids, and Heard’s accusations against him.
Apparently Heard’s camp did not like this, insisting that his interview continued to “psychologically abuse” Heard, so return shots fired.
2018 December–Heard wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post about being abused and women who’d been in similar situations as she had. Never she mentioned Depp by name. She claimed that in December 2015, drunk and high Depp, grabbed her by the throat and threatened to kill her.
She also stated she lost out on movie roles and a possible modeling gig from a designer because she came forward about her alleged abuse.
2019 January— Depp files a $50 million defamation lawsuit stating Heard was never the victim but the violent perpetrator who had extra-marital affairs with James Franco, Elon Musk, and others. He continues to say her Washington Post piece was an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for her as it negatively affected his career.
2019 April–Court records reveal that Heard detailed multiple instances of alleged abuse by Depp, during their fifteen months together and prior. She frequently referred to Depp as “The Monster”. She claimed that she still had scars on her arms and feet from an incident where Depp alleged threw her through a ping pong table and then dragged her through broken glass.
Depp alleged that Heard defecated in his bed and had punched him.
She claimed it was her 4 pound dog that had pooped in Depp’s bed.
She also files for the defamation lawsuit against her to be dismissed.
2019 May–Depp submits a long list of information supporting his lawsuit against Heard. He also claims that Heard “painted on her bruises” and accused her of serious physical abuse against him.
2019 July–Depp’s legal counsel planned to supeona James Franco over surveillance footage of he and Heard in an elevator after she had a fight with Depp. This is later withdrawn.
2020 February —The Daily Mail released a recording where Heard admitted to hitting Depp and he talked about why he leaves when things get heated. Heard stated she hit him, “not punched him”, but told him he was fine afterwards. That she had not hurt him.
Depp explained why he left because he was tired of “more physicality, more physical abuse on each other.”
You can listen to the hour long recording here.
2020 March 11–Heard’s assistant, Kate James, interviews with The Blast, stating Heard routinely verbally and mentally abused her after Heard’s drug and alcohol binges. James reportedly said working for Heard from 2012-2015, had “been a nightmare.”
She also included that there were multiple times she saw Heard undressed (while helping with wardrobe changes and shopping trips) and James witnessed no physical abuse signs.
Regarding Depp, James claimed that Depp was calm and thoughtful, never violent or aggressive, but reported Heard as a classic bully who’d fly into blind rages where reasoning with her proved pointless.
James was fired by Heard in 2015.
2020 July 7— Depp’s libel suit against The Sun and executive editor Dan Wootton begins. During the sixteen day trial, Depp’s former partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder provide statements that neither of them experienced physical abuse from Depp during each of their years with him.
Heard’s former assistant Kate James also testified on Depp’s behalf. Additionally, James stated that Heard lifted James’s own sexual assault incident as her own.
During the course of the trial, additional information was presented regarding Depp’s finger injury that required surgery. He alleged that Heard threw a bottle at him that ended up severing his finger but also put a cigarette out on his cheek. Pictures of him on a (ER) hospital gurney with a bandaged finger were presented as evidence of her abuse.
2020 July 20—The Daily Mail published an article about Depp secretly recording his conversation with Heard that had been released earlier in the year. The article includes a detailed outline of the recording as well as sidebar articles about Heard’s claims of his drug use on their wedding day, the people he claims she had sex with during their time together, and multiple other allegations they had against each other.
2020 November 2–Depp loses libel suit but plans to appeal.
2020 November 6–Depp posts on his Instagram he’s been asked to resign from Fantastic Beasts, which he has.
2020 November 17th–Regarding Depp’s $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard after she wrote the op-ed for The Washington Post, the judge refused Heard’s request to move the suit to from Virginia to Los Angeles. The judge ruled that since the publication in which the article appeared was in Virginia, the suit would stay there. Additionally, proof of her divorce settlement donations to CHLA and other organizations must be submitted in court as Depp’s camp accuses Heard of not following through with her promise to give her divorce settlement those charities.
Needless to say, the Depp/Heard saga is far from over, so stay tuned.