Johnny Depp shot just one scene as Gellert Grindelwald in the next Fantastic Beasts film when it was announced to the London production crew that Warner Bros. had asked him to step down after he lost his "wife beater" libel case against a UK tabloid. Depp agreed to resign, but that doesn't mean he agreed to not get paid: Per The Hollywood Reporter, the 57-year-old actor will still be getting his full salary. Depp was to share the screen with co-stars Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law, but he was said to be the highest paid of the three, with an eight-figure paycheck coming his way.
So how is he still cashing in? It's all in his contract, which THR describes as a "pay or play" deal that ensures he gets his money even if he's recast, or even if the movie never gets made at all. Variety dives deeper into what may have weighed into the decision to cut Depp, as his issues with ex-wife Amber Heard were already known when he was originally cast. The magazine cites both the tepid performance of 2018's The Crimes of Grindelwald and the merger of Warner Bros. parent Time Warner with AT&T, resulting in new management that doesn't seem to be tolerating any kind of drama. Meanwhile, the Blast reports that a petition is circulating to bring Depp back to the Fantastic Beasts franchise. "We want him back! Warner Bros should listen to the public or we will boycott the movie!!!" reads the petition, which so far has gathered more than 130,000 signatures. (Read more Johnny Depp stories.)