Johnny Depp leaves Fantastic Beasts: When other stars have been recast

Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
·4-min read

Johnny Depp resigning from the upcoming Fantastic Beasts film means the role of dark wizard Grindelwald now has to be recast – a move that, while unusual, is far from unheard of.

Depp stepped down after losing his High Court libel case triggered by The Sun newspaper labelling him a “wife beater”.

Warner Bros asked him to resign, Depp said, and the role will now be recast.

While Depp has departed in controversial circumstances, many star changes are put down to the old Hollywood euphemism of “creative differences”.

Here, the PA news agency looks at other high-profile re-castings:

– Ed Norton

MTV Movie Awards 2008
Ed Norton was replaced as the Hulk by Mark Ruffalo (Ian West/PA)

Norton played the titular angry green superhero in 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, an early instalment in the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.

However, Marvel recast the role for later films, with Mark Ruffalo taking over for 2012’s The Avengers.

Marvel boss Kevin Feige said the switch was “definitely not one based on monetary factors” but instead was a creative decision.

Speaking to the New York Times last year, Norton said he had wanted to make a serious film, akin to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, rather than the more light-hearted affairs Marvel pursued.

– Samantha Morton

Samantha Morton
Samantha Morton was replaced in 2013 film Her by Scarlett Johansson (Ian West/PA)

British actress Morton filmed 2013 sci-fi rom-com Her alongside Joaquin Phoenix, providing the voice of an artificially intelligent virtual assistant.

However, writer and director Spike Jonze decided to replace her in post-production with Scarlett Johansson.

Morton, an Oscar nominee and Bafta TV award winner, has no hard feelings.

She told Vanity Fair last year: “It feels like I created a painting and then put it in the attic, and nobody’s seen it — but it’s fine because I know it’s there.”

– Megan Fox

Megan Fox
Megan Fox was fired from the Transformers franchise for comments made about director Michael Bay (Ian West/PA)

Fox was fired from 2011 sci-fi action movie Transformers: Dark Of The Moon for comparing director Michael Bay’s behaviour on set to that of Hitler, saying he was a “nightmare” to work with.

She was replaced by British actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Bay later said executive producer Steven Spielberg was the one who gave the order to fire Fox.

Fox, 34, later described the episode as “absolutely the low point of my career”.

– Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling intentionally turned up overweight to the set of The Lovely Bones and ended up getting fired (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Hollywood heartthrob Gosling was replaced in 2009 supernatural drama The Lovely Bones after turning up on set overweight.

He and director Sir Peter Jackson disagreed on the appearance of his character – a grief-stricken father – and the role was given to Mark Wahlberg instead.

Reflecting on the incident in 2010, Gosling blamed a lack of communication between himself and Sir Peter.

He told the Hollywood Reporter: “It was a huge movie, and there’s so many things to deal with, and he couldn’t deal with the actors individually. I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong.

“Then I was fat and unemployed.”

– Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore had been set to star in acclaimed drama Can You Ever Forgive Me? but was sacked (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Oscar-winner Moore was originally set to play hard-drinking forger Lee Israel in the 2018 critically acclaimed drama Can You Ever Forgive Me?

However, she was fired following a disagreement with writer Nicole Holofcener.

Speaking on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, she said: “I didn’t leave that movie, I was fired. Nicole fired me. So yeah, that’s the truth.”

Melissa McCarthy later took the role and earned a best actress Oscar nomination.

– Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey’s career never recovered from allegations of sexual misconduct (Ian West/PA)

While many re-casting decisions come down to a creative choice, producers of 2017 crime thriller All The Money In The World had their hands forced after star Kevin Spacey was engulfed by sexual misconduct allegations.

In October 2017, months before the film’s release, Spacey was alleged to have made an advance on actor Anthony Rapp in 1986. Rapp was 14 at the time of the alleged incident.

Director Sir Ridley Scott erased Spacey from All The Money In The World, replacing him with Christopher Plummer in hastily reshot scenes that cost millions.

Spacey, once one of Hollywood’s most prolific stars, was also fired from Netflix drama House Of Cards and his career has not recovered.