Something wicked this way comes, and it’s not magic. Fabled author J.K. Rowling finally spoke out about the mounting backlash against having Johnny Depp play the dark wizard Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series and her response is, shockingly, a rare misstep.
This issue with Depp’s casting stems from allegations of domestic abuse that his ex-wife Amber Heard spoke out about during their divorce last year. During the divorce proceedings, Heard claimed that Depp assaulted her, got a restraining order against him, and appeared in court with a visible black eye. When Depp offered $7 million to drop the charges of domestic violence and end the divorce case, she accepted the money and donated it all to the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Then, as part of the settlement, they released a joint statement saying that “neither party has made false accusations for financial gains” and that “there was never an intent of physical or emotional harm.”
In such a contentious, post-Weinstein landscape, you’d think that someone who is accused of beating his wife would be cast aside from a multi-million-dollar franchise in favor of someone else, yet here we are. Reading statements from one of the most celebrated authors of all time defending the decision to keep Depp in the films.
“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,” she said in a statement on her website, before adding: “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.”
She then went on to say that while some fans won’t be happy with his inclusion, “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.”
Adding to Depp’s defense, director David Yates spoke out about the casting issue with perhaps the most cringe-worthy phrase possible given the circumstances, saying that, unlike other instances where there are multiple accusers, “with Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something.” Plus, it can’t be true, as Depp is “full of decency and kindness” according to Yates and the idea of him allegedly beating his ex-wife “doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.”
So, yes, Depp will be in the franchise because he’s “full of decency and kindness” and Rowling is “genuinely happy” to stick by the side of an alleged wife beater. In other news, the wizarding world of Harry Potter lost its magic today.