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December 7, 2017

J.K. Rowling Defends Casting Johnny Depp In ‘Fantastic Beasts’

Sometimes, you have to choose the hill you’re going to die on, and right now, Johnny Depp probably isn’t the battle you want to stick with. The actor, at least online, has become something of a pariah, due to the allegations by Amber Heard of domestic abuse and assault. Nevertheless, his career has hardly hiccuped, as Hollywood continues to stick with Depp, with the actor most recently appearing in Kenneth Branagh‘s hit, “Murder On The Orient Express.” Beyond that, he’s got a juicy role in the upcoming “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” and presumably one that will extend into the planned sequels, and people aren’t having it.

As a result, Depp has seen those around the film come to his defence, with director David Yates praising the actor’s “decency and kindness,” adding that there’s additional comfort because, essentially, he’s not a monster like Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, and Kevin Spacey. Now, “Harry Potter” creator and franchise overlord J.K. Rowling has jumped into the Depp Defence waters, with her own statement, which boils down — “I don’t believe Amber Heard.”:

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.

Rowling is correct, “conscience isn’t governable by committee,” and sure, we can all objectively stand back, raise our hands, and say that no one really knows what actually happened between Depp and Heard. But I’d be interested to know how Rowling came to her “understanding of the circumstances,” and whether or not a conversation with the victim — which by the way is Amber Heard, not Johnny Depp — happened. Or, if everyone just got assurances from Team Depp that everything was cool.

Again, everyone involved in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ can stick with this fight and conversation, which will follow the movie around forever, or recast the role as many are asking.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” slated to open on November 16, 2018.

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