J.K. Rowling has finally spoken out about casting Johnny Depp in the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ sequel. Depp is set to reprise his role of dark wizard Gellert Grindlewald in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,’ the follow-up to the 2016 hit. All is not well in the wizard world, however, as fans have called for a recasting of the role, as Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, accused him of emotionally and physically abusive behavior. Depp called the reports “salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies,” and the two reached a settlement last year.
Rowling, who is writing all of the ‘Harry Potter’ spinoff scripts, expressed her thoughts on the matter on her website Thursday. Rowling said:
“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, longtime ‘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.”
She went on to address those who still may disagree with the decision, saying:
“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.”
Director David Yates and producer David Heyman released a joint statement on Thursday as well, saying:
“None of us involved in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ would ever let our appreciation of talent obscure other, far more important considerations. We recognized the magnitude of the issues raised and understood the strength of feeling expressed. We hoped and strived at all times to be sensitive to both parties. We stand by our decision to have Johnny in the films.”
Warner Bros. joined in, saying:
“We are of course aware of reports that surfaced around the end of Johnny Depp’s marriage and take seriously the complexity of the issues involved. This matter has been jointly addressed by both parties, in a statement in which they said ‘There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.’ Based on the circumstances and the information available to us, we, along with the filmmakers, continue to support the decision to proceed with Johnny Depp in the role of Grindelwald in this and future films.”
Yates again will direct the follow-up, with Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller and Carmen Ejogo reprising their roles in the sequel. Callum Turner, Zoe Kravitz, and Jessica Williams are among the new cast additions.
‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ hits theaters November 16, 2018.