First, Fantastic Beasts franchise director and Harry Potter veteran David Yates stood by the controversial casting of Johnny Depp. Now author and screenwriter J.K. Rowling and all of Warner Bros. are defending the choice as well.
“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,” Rowling said on her official website.
WB also released a statement on Thursday, saying: “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.”
Depp’s involvement in the series as Gellert Grindelwald has drawn some criticism in the industry following ex-wife Amber Heard’s claims of domestic abuse. The actress released photos of herself last year with a bruised face and claimed Depp physically abused her during their relationship. However, in August 2016, the couple settled their contentious divorce and Heard withdrew her allegations.
Many fans online have complained that Depp could easily be replaced (we argued that Warner Bros. should just hand the role back to Collin Farrell, who appeared in the first Fantastic Beasts film) in the wake of Ridley Scott replacing Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World. Though Depp has never been charged with domestic abuse, Spacey was never under legal scrutiny either and has essentially been blackballed from Hollywood.
Here’s Warner Bros.’ official synopsis of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald:
“At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.
In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.”
The film is set to hit theaters on November 16, 2018.