Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and film bosses behind the Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them franchise considered recasting Johnny Depp’s villain character after the actor was accused of abusing his wife.
The writer admits she was “genuinely happy” when she learned Depp had accepted the role of villain Gellert Grindelwald for a brief appearance in the first film of the Harry Potter prequel series, and she is comfortable for him to keep the role, despite the drama in his personal life and the accusations made by his now-ex-wife Amber Heard.
The actress filed for divorce last year (16), claiming the Pirates of the Caribbean star had physically abused her throughout their year-long union. Depp denied the claims, but it almost cost him the Fantastic Beasts gig.
“When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he’d be wonderful in the role,” the author and screenwriter shares in a new statement. “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.”
She adds, “The agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people (Depp and Heard), 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.”
Rowling accepts there will be people who are “not satisfied with our choice of actor”, but adds, “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.”