Following months of silence, J.K. Rowling is finally speaking out about Johnny Depp and the decision to keep him in the role of Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
A few weeks ago, the first official cast photo and title for the upcoming sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released. Following the teaser, people expressed disappointment that Depp — who had a small cameo during the first film — would be returning as the titular character in the sequel due to the domestic violence and abuse allegations leveled against the actor during his divorce from Amber Heard. Considering Depp’s introduction to the franchise came as it was revealed that Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves was just a disguise for Grindelwald, many fans felt Depp could and should be replaced by a different actor.
Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter universe and screenwriter for the Fantastic Beasts films, as well as producers of the franchise have come under fire for keeping him in the role. While director David Yates called the allegations against Depp a “dead issue,” Rowling has been unusually silent.
But now, after reportedly blocking a fan asking about Depp’s casting on Twitter, Rowling is defending her position.
The author and screenwriter revealed that the allegations leveled against Depp around the time of his casting were concerning to the entire Fantastic Beasts team — and they considered recasting him, but ultimately decided against it.
While we can definitely understand the point Rowling is trying to make, the decision to keep Depp in the cast is still something that makes us feel a bit uneasy. Rowling, Yates, producer David Heyman, and Warner Bros. may be hoping to finally put the issue to rest, but we don’t think fans’ frustration or unease is going anywhere.
Here’s Rowling’s full statement:
“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.”
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is slated to hit theaters on November 16th, 2018…and for right now, it will still include Depp.