On a very busy Friday, when the nation’s attention was largely occupied on presidential election vote tallies, a little story about the still largely shuttered movie industry broke: Johnny Depp had been forced out of the Harry Potter spin-off/prequel series, Fantastic Beasts. The now controversial actor had played Gellert Grindelwald, the trilogy’s main baddie, and though the third installment was already being shot, his name had been yanked off the call sheet, soon after he lost a defamation suit against The Sun, who had dubbed him a “wife-beater” after his divorce from Amber Heard. Now were getting some details about what led to the decision and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, we’ve learned at least one person will make a lot of money off of this: Johnny Depp.
As per the report, Depp, like many Hollywood A-listers, signed a so-called pay-or-play contract, which meant he’d be compensated in full whether the film is completed or recast or what have you. That means he’ll received his full eight-figure salary, despite having only filmed one scene so far. Think of it the way Megyn Kelly received a full year’s salary from NBC even after they fired her for defending blackface.
That also means that, when the Fantastic Beasts threequel hits theaters in its final form, Depp will be the highest-paid performer involved with it, even though he’ll likely not be involved with it at all. (Who knows? He could always make a simple appearance, much as he did in the series’ maiden voyage, which ends with Colin Farrell’s Grindelwad revealing himself to actually be Depp.) Poor leads Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne, who were to share the same amount of screentime and will still wind up being paid less. And, for that matter, poor other Fantastic Beasts players Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, and more, who aren’t famous enough either to get that much dough, and while shooting a movie in the midst of a pandemic to boot.