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J.K. Rowling Explains Why She’s Okay With Johnny Depp’s ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Casting Despite Controversy

There has been a lot of media buzz and understandable controversy among Harry Potter fans surrounding the decision to keep Johnny Depp in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film series. Given the domestic abuse allegations made against the actor by his ex-wife Amber Heard in 2016, many have been upset and angry about Depp’s continued involvement with the franchise. Demands for his removal have been met with relative silence from the big names behind the series, most notably from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

Rowling has now addressed the controversy and defended Depp's casting. Rowling, who is also the screenwriter for the first and second Fantastic Beasts movies, spoke out on her website about the justifiable unease regarding the choice to keep Depp in the role of the mysterious and evil Gellert Grindelwald.

In a statement, Rowling wrote that she was originally concerned about the domestic abuse claims surrounding Depp in the press. The author claimed that she and Fantastic Beasts director David Yates considered recasting the role, but she conceded, “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.”

Rowling said it was hard for her to stay silent as fans became outraged, but she firmly stands by the decision to keep Depp in the films, noting that she's aware not everyone will be satisfied with this choice. "Within the fictional world and outside it, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing," she wrote.

Along with Rowling and Yates, Warner Bros. has also chosen to stick by Depp. The studio remarked on the “complexity” of the issues involved but ultimately settled on allowing Depp to proceed with his role as Grindelwald in future films.  

Emily Waitson

Wilfrid Laurier '20

Emily is a twenty-something fourth-year student majoring in English and History. She has a passion for writing, internet-famous cats, and sappy books.
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