In a wide-ranging interview with Entertainment Weekly, Grindelwald actor Johnny Depp is finally speaking at length about Fantastic Beasts and the controversy that’s surrounded him.

EW didn’t shy away from asking him questions about allegations that’ve plagued the franchise over the past couple years. Controversy aside, the interview also goes into Depp’s awareness of the Wizarding World on a whole, what kind of interactions he’s had with J.K. Rowling, and some insight into what lies ahead for Newt, Dumbledore, and Grindelwald.

On Grindelwald’s feelings towards Dumbledore in Crimes:

I think he’s just waiting. He’s looking forward to [their inevitable showdown]. I think there’s probably a lot of residue left over from days gone by. They quite bonded, you know? When you loved someone, and cared for someone, and it arrives into a [combative] arena — as it has with Dumbledore and Grindelwald — it’s very dangerous when it becomes personal.

On Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s (potentially romantic) relationship:

I think it should be left up to the audience to feel it first, and when the time comes … It makes the situation with Dum­bledore all the more intense. I think there’s a jealousy with Scamander. He sees Scamander as Dumbledore’s protégé — his boy, in a way. That in itself is enough for Grindelwald to want to take Scamander down in a way that is ferocious and eternal.

On his awareness of Harry Potter prior to being cast:

I read the books when my kids were smaller and watched the films with them. The books were superb. What J.K. [Rowling] delivered is really a difficult thing to do as a writer — to create a whole new universe and a set of rules. And you pick it up in one fell swoop in the first book and first film. It’s a whole lot of information and I was amazed — you never felt like you were being slathered with exposition or being condescended to. It’s good literature and great writing in its own right. It ticks all the boxes.

On meeting J.K. Rowling (virtually at first):

We met by Skype. We had a very long conversation. We got together again when I arrived in London for fittings. From the first second it’s been an absolute treat and the most positive and fun experience. The opportunity to play one of her characters and try to bring something to the part that might even hopefully surprise her or Yates, that was a great challenge but a real gas. A lot of fun.

On creating Grindelwald:

I had an image in my head of the guy. The beauty of J.K. and of Yates is they put trust in me to a degree. J.K. and I had some really nice talks and I had some ideas and she just said, “I can’t wait to see what you do with him.” It was beautifully left as this open gift.

On his goal with this character:

My intense loyalty is to not just J.K. and David Yates but to the people who go and see the films as well, the people who have invested their lives into this magnificent, incredible world J.K. has created. I went full tilt and headfirst into the character knowing the responsibility that I had. It’s good to take the audience on a ride they’re not necessarily expecting, yet with great respect to the world they’ve come to understand and know. The Potter fans are like scholars of this stuff which I find incredibly impressive. They know that world inside and out. I hope to give them something they haven’t seen before.

On abuse allegations against him:

I’ll be honest with you, I felt bad for J.K. having to field all these various feelings from people out there. I felt bad that she had to take that. But ultimately, there is real controversy. The fact remains I was falsely accused, which is why I’m suing the Sun newspaper for defamation for repeating false accusations. J.K. has seen the evidence and therefore knows I was falsely accused, and that’s why she has publicly supported me. She doesn’t take things lightly. She would not stand up if she didn’t know the truth. So that’s really it.

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