In the latest episode of the important and powerful reckoning about sexual assault sweeping through politics, the media and the entertainment industry, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has weighed in on the allegations against Johnny Depp – who stars in her upcoming film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
Last year, the Oscar-nominated actor faced an accusation from his wife Amber Heard that he assaulted her during a drunken argument at their apartment in Los Angeles.
According to the Guardian, Heard filed a temporary restraining order against him; her filing said Depp “became extremely angry” and threw a phone at Heard, striking her cheek and eye “with extreme force”. Despite Heard supplying photographs of her bruised face, Depp’s lawyers denied the allegations against him.
And when she finally settled her divorce battle with Depp, Heard donated her entire $7 million settlement to charities, including those dedicated to stopping violence against women.
The accusations against Depp led some fans to demand he be recast in the new Fantastic Beasts film. But now Rowling, to the disappointment of many of her followers, has issued a statement supporting the actor and defending his casting.
Here’s her statement in full:
“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.”
This lengthy comment has ignited an outpouring of criticism against the author. On Twitter, Chelsea said: “As a domestic violence survivor, I am beyond disappointed and disturbed that Depp wasn’t recast the moment we all heard video of his abusive garbage behavior. #MeToo
“To add… J.K., your books got me through that aforementioned domestic violence. I understand you aren’t in control of the casting, but to hear a statement of support from a woman who got me through literal hell is beyond gutting to me.”
Another commenter added: “dear @jk_rowling, I’m glad you have created a new Patronus, the hipopocrita.”
Adele Marie wrote: “I can’t believe J.K. Rowling is cancelled. 2017 is really a garbage year.”
And Amber Heard herself has even issued another comment on the matter in which she appears to criticise Rowling. Heard said: “For the record, this was our FULL joint statement. To pick and choose certain lines and quote them out of context, is not right. Women, stay strong.”
The Crimes of Grindelwald is set to released next November but it looks like many disappointed fans might be giving the film a miss.
When contacted by Shortlist, a representative for the author said: “J.K. Rowling isn’t making any further comment.”