Robert Downey Jr. Wants Johnny Depp in Sherlock Holmes 3 — 4 Reasons it Won’t Happen

Johnny Depp is mired in an ugly defamation trial vs. ex-wife Amber Heard. The actor claims the legal battle and Heard’s abuse accusations cost him a multi-million dollar payday for Pirates of the Caribbean 6. The rumor is that longtime friend Robert Downey Jr. wants to lend a helping hand by having Depp co-star alongside him in Sherlock Holmes 3. The idea of one friend helping another in need is heartwarming, but there are four reasons Downey and Depp co-starring in Sherlock Holmes 3 will never happen.

Robert Downey Jr. during an 'Avengers: Endgame' press conference; Johnny Depp attends the 2021 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
(l-r) Robert Downey Jr.; Johnny Depp | The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images; Gisela Schober/Getty Images

1. Warner Bros. already dropped Johnny Depp from a franchise

Warner Bros. controls the rights to the Sherlock Holmes movies. The same goes for the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts films. 

Depp starred as the title character in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald in 2018, but he didn’t return for the recent Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Warner Bros. asked Depp to step down from the role, and he complied.

Depp’s legal issues presumably prompted Warners to remove Depp from one cornerstone franchise. It stands to reason they wouldn’t rush to add him to another blockbuster series. That’s strike one against Depp in the Sherlock Holmes rumor.

2. ‘Sherlock Holmes 3’ has no timetable

Sherlock Holmes 3 has an IMDb page that lists series regulars Downey, Jude Law, Eddie Marsan, and Jarred Harris as the stars. The page lists Dexter Fletcher as the director, but other information is scarce. There is no release year listed, let alone a targeted date. No supporting actors. Only a skeletal crew. 

Downey’s Marvel Cinematic Universe obligations prevented production from starting in 2016, per IMDb. A December 2021 release never happened because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Time and inertia have left the third movie in the series in place for years.

In short, the third movie is just a figment of the imagination at this point. Another knock on Depp joining Sherlock Holmes 3.

3. Robert Downey can’t just add Depp to ‘Sherlock Holmes 3’ because he wants to

Downey wants to look out for his friend, which is a generous move. The Iron Man star has a lot of Hollywood clout, but he can’t just add Depp to the cast because he wants to.

As we mentioned, it’s unlikely Warner Bros. would add Depp to the Holmes franchise after taking him off Fantastic Beasts. Additionally, Downey isn’t the director or a producer of the film. He can advocate all he wants, but at the end of the day, he has little say in casting decisions. 

Downey could try a power play and threaten to walk away from Sherlock Holmes 3, but that would ultimately backfire. Warner Bros. could then either replace Downey or scrap the project. In either case, a walkout would sabotage any chance of Depp joining the cast.

4. Depp wouldn’t necessarily have an open schedule to film ‘Sherlock Holmes 3’

Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp at the 2011 Golden Globes. Downey wants to add Depp to the 'Sherlock Holmes 3' cast, but it's unlikely to happen.
Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp at the 2011 Golden Globes | Vince Bucci/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Depp potentially lost out on a huge Pirates 6 payday because of Heard’s abuse allegations, which only exacerbated his financial problems. He lost much of his movie fortune partly because of mismanagement by his financial team. Depp also spent wildly on wine, houses, a French village, a private island, and a yacht he sold to J.K. Rowling.

If Depp’s financial situation is as bad as it appears, he won’t be in a position to refuse work once the trial ends. If that’s the case, and he is more liberal in the roles he takes, his schedule could fill up quickly. And if he is too busy with other obligations, he simply won’t have an opportunity to accept a role in Sherlock Holmes 3

Between Warner Bros. opinion on Depp, the standstill in production, Downey’s lack of say in casting, and the outcome of his trial, Depp in Sherlock Holmes 3 is almost guaranteed not to happen.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text START to 88788.

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