Hollywood actor Johnny Depp’s surprise and brief appearance as the big baddy at the end of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” had broken the internet in 2016, and the news of his even bigger return in the sequel of the Potterverse film, set to be released on November 16, 2018, also has created massive buzz.
The controversy created by Depp’s messy divorce from actress Amber Heard in January, amid Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse, is still following the actor. After the first film came out, Depp’s casting as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and its sequel was questioned.
Director of both films David Yates in an interview with Entertainment Weekly last month had defended his decision to keep Depp, saying: “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.”
However, JK Rowling, author and creator of Harry Potter and Potterverse, has been silent all this time, until Thursday. In a post on her website, she defended the decision to cast Depp in the next Fantastic Beasts movie, following backlash from unhappy fans over his divorce.
Rowling, who also wrote the screenplays for both films, said filmmakers had considered recasting the role of Grindelwald for the sequel, titled “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”
The Warner Bros movie is the second of a planned five movie spinoff franchise from the blockbuster Harry Potter films.
But, she said, the circumstances of Depp’s divorce from Heard were private and should be respected. “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.
“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,” Rowling said.
Depp, for his part, has not commented on the casting controversy yet.
The distributor of the films, Warner Bros in a statement on Thursday said that it supported the decision to keep the actor, who has risen to unreachable heights of fame around the world after playing the role of Captain Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.
Director Yates and producer David Heyman also said in a joint statement that while recognising “the magnitude of the issues raised” they stood by the decision to cast Depp.
Meanwhile, Rowling’s statement backing Depp on her website has drawn massive criticisms across social media, including one from Amber Heard on Twitter.
Heard, who had previously accused Depp of being “verbally and physically abusive throughout their relationship,” on Friday claimed Rowling had deliberately misconstrued the agreements put in place following her divorce.
She posted an image of the joint statement she and Depp released on the day their divorce was finalised, along with a rebuke to Rowling.
“For the record, this was our FULL joint statement. To pick & choose certain lines and quote them out of context, is not right. Women, stay strong,” Heard wrote.