11:21 am EST, December 7, 2017

J.K. Rowling breaks silence on Johnny Depp / Grindelwald casting controversy

J.K. Rowling has made a rare update to her website to respond to the recent backlash concerning the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts.

Over the past few months, many fans have been upset over the casting of Depp in light of disturbing allegations against him: He had allegedly verbally and physically abused his ex-wife Amber Heard. Depp and Heard settled in court, with Heard donating all of her settlement money to women’s support groups.

Backlash has continued to lap on the film as the second movie’s title (The Crimes of Grindelwald) was announced. And in November, director David Yates poorly responded to the controversy.

Through all of this Rowling remained silent, but today she posted a statement on her website which quickly crashed. Below is the statement in full. In summary, no changes to the cast will be made, but she understands why people are upset.

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.

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Moments later, Warner Brothers issued a statement of their own:

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.

Many fans were quick to denounce the statements as being insufficient and disappointing. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits theaters this November.

Update: Amber Heard has responded to the statements. She appears to be calling out WB cherrypicking the statement. “For the record, this was our FULL joint statement. To pick and choose certain lines and quote them out of context, is just not right. Women, continue to stand up and stay strong. Love, Amber”

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