The Harry Potter franchise continues to expand the property with the upcoming title Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The sequel to the prequel has brought in some serious star power courtesy of Jude Law (Professor Dumbledore), Zoe Kravitz (Leta Lestrange), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein) and Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander).
Yet it has been the announcement of Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald that altered this picture from a family-friendly fantasy adventure movie to a piece of controversy. The aftermath of the actor's divorce from Amber Heard has tainted his perception and reputation in the industry, but series writer J.K. Rowling has defended the decision in a lengthy post that explains her thought process.
Concerns Over Depp Are Genuine and Legitimate: JK
Rather than offer a stinging rebuke of those who would doubt the studio's decision, Rowling actually lent voice to those who did not want someone with Depp's indiscretions involved in such a project. The writer even went as far to admit that they explored recasting the role.
"When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he'd be wonderful in the role," she began. "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."
Beasts Remain Fantastic As Rowling Doubles Down
With a mixture of legal proceedings potentially hampering their recasting cause, there was also a moral stance to take. Heard's settlement might have left a stain on Depp's image, but Rowling said that the matter is essentially behind all parties.
"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."
Ending her post with enthusiasm for what lies ahead, Rowling understands that her rationale will not satisfy everyone.
"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."
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens across the US on November 16, 2018.