HE is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, with a string of cult films and popular franchises to his name.
But after a judge ruled on Monday that Johnny Depp is a wife beater — following his failed libel case against The Sun — he now faces his most challenging role yet: Clinging on to his glittering career.
Industry experts, however, believe it is set to crash after Depp, 57, was unmasked as a brutal, foul-mouthed, drug-addled abuser.
The ruling has sparked crisis talks behind the scenes of his latest movie, Fantastic Beasts 3, which he has been filming for the past six weeks.
He is set to return as wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spin-off alongside co-stars Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law.
Warner Bros chiefs behind the franchise have previously decided it is too late to write him out.
But they are now facing mounting pressure from crew members horrified at the court verdict, while others believe it will be extremely difficult to market the movie, due out next year, with him in it.
Sources say female staff on the production have become particularly vocal, having heard trial details which included the judge ruling Depp had assaulted his then wife Amber Heard 12 times.
A movie insider said: “The film has already been shooting for the past 45 days and Johnny plays an extremely important role.
"It is completely at odds with the #MeToo message for Warner Bros to keep him.
“But as things stand, they will back him and filming continues.
“Questions have very much been raised about why that is the case.”
It is another crisis for the third film in the franchise.
Fantastic Beasts author J.K. Rowling faced criticism earlier this year for her stance on transgender issues, while Ezra Miller, 28, who plays Credence Barebone, was criticised in April after a video allegedly showed him choke a woman to the ground outside a pub in Iceland.
Depp has raked in hundreds of millions of pounds as one of the highest-paid actors of his generation.
His first Hollywood role was in 1984’s A Nightmare On Elm Street, as a victim of serial killer Freddy Krueger.
He later struck up a long-running collaboration with gothic fantasy director Tim Burton, appearing in eight of his films, including Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
He commands at least £15.5million per movie, and during the trial he revealed that between 2008 and 2015 he made £500million from his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean series.
He also made £50million from Alice In Wonderland in 2010.
Now future roles and lucrative commercial contracts — including his long-term deal as the face of Dior aftershave range Sauvage — will be under threat.
Over three and a half weeks, London’s High Court heard lurid accounts of Depp’s drink and drug abuse, irrational jealousy and violent rage.
Judge Mr Justice Nicol dismissed his claim that Amber Heard, 34, was a gold-digger who invented allegations of abuse as part of “a choreographed hoax”.
Richard Thompson, chairman of top ad agency M&C Saatchi, described the result as “a car crash” for Depp.
He said: “We’ve always known he’s a hell-raiser, going back to the Nineties with Kate Moss when he was trashing hotel rooms.
"It’s part of his reputation. But this goes way beyond that.
“His three most important partners are Warner Bros, Disney and Sauvage. They now have some very big decisions to make.
“The court of public opinion will govern how his career goes.”
PR guru Mark Borkowski, who described the case as “one of the biggest showbiz fails”, added: “His brand had a sort of edge, but that has turned to something that is really ugly and abusive.
“This is like an indelible stain on his character. But nothing is impossible — write no obituaries for his career just yet.”
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