J.K. Rowling Speaks Out About Johnny Depp’s Casting in “Fantastic Beasts” Films

There’s been no shortage of controversy about Johnny Depp being cast as Gellert Grindelwald since he first appeared in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Some people are overjoyed at the casting of such a versatile actor, while others are uneasy with the idea of Depp, who was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife Amber Heard in 2016, being allowed to remain in the role for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Today, J.K. Rowling broke her silence on the debate, publishing the following statement in Depp’s defense on her website:

When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he’d be wonderful in the role. However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise. 

Harry Potter fans had legitimate questions and concerns about our choice to continue with Johnny Depp in the role. As David Yates, long-time Potter director, has already said, we naturally considered the possibility of recasting. I understand why some have been confused and angry about why that didn’t happen.

The huge, mutually supportive community that has grown up around Harry Potter is one of the greatest joys of my life. For me, personally, the inability to speak openly to fans about this issue has been difficult, frustrating and at times painful. However, the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected. Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.

I’ve loved writing the first two screenplays and I can’t wait for fans to see The Crimes of Grindelwald. I accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role. However, conscience isn’t governable by committee. Within the fictional world and outside it, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing.

Last week, director David Yates also defended Depp’s casting in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

Honestly, there’s an issue at the moment where there’s a lot of people being accused of things, they’re being accused by multiple victims, and it’s compelling and frightening. With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something. I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see. Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with. By testament, some of the women in [Depp’s] life have said the same thing — ‘that’s not the human being we know.’ It’s very different [than cases] where there are multiple accusers over many years that need to be examined and we need to reflect on our industry that allows that to roll on year in and year out. Johnny isn’t in that category in any shape or form. So to me, it doesn’t bear any more analysis. It’s a dead issue.

Many fans are still outraged, believing the allegations against Depp warrant a recasting of the role.

This issue is one that every Harry Potter fan should consider individually. In the wake of a flood of allegations against men in Hollywood, it is up to us to maintain our values and a civil discussion environment. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald premieres on November 18, 2018.