After Depp was cast (he appeared in a brief cameo at the end of the first “Fantastic Beasts” movie), he made headlines over accusations of domestic violence by now-ex-wife Amber Heard. Though Depp denied the allegations, plenty of Potterheads still decried Rowling for featuring an alleged abuser in her films.
“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, after months of silence on the issue, wrote on her website on Thursday. “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.”
A very vocal Harry Potter fanbase took to Twitter to respond to Rowling. Melissa Anelli of popular fansite the Leaky Cauldron said Rowling’s defense of Depp “makes me very sad” as part of a larger thread.
“Jo has never once indicated (to me) a problem with speaking my truth to her power,” she wrote, in part. “She’s been an absolute champion in that regard. So I hope that continues when I say that my truth right now is that this statement has made me very sad.”
“I love Harry Potter and I love @jk_rowling and both of those things remain true while being deeply disappointed,” she continued. “The irony is that these views we have were informed by the messages of Harry Potter. The Harry Potter generation is a huge part of the #metoo movement and it is not an accident that many of those feeling confident doing what is right over easy did so after growing up with these books.”
One user brought up the unfortunate irony that while the character Harry Potter was victim of abuse, an alleged abuser was cast in the movie. “i seriously hope those fans don’t watch the crimes of grindelwald ’cause they already know the crimes of johnny depp,” she said.
Actor and producer Norman D. Golden II pointed out how crass the defense came across in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Another user questioned the decision not to recast Depp by making reference to Ridley Scott’s decision to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in his film “All the Money in the World.”
Writer Rachel Kiley tweeted, “Casually reminding everyone mad at JK Rowling today that when Depp’s casting was originally announced, she spent the day favoriting tweets calling Amber Heard a liar.” (One fan had previously alleged that Rowling blocked her on Twitter after she asked about Heard’s accusations.)
Other users, however, shared Rowling’s perspective on the matter. “Virtually nobody has enough info to comment on what is right or wrong about him being cast,” said one tweet. “@jk_rowling knows a little more than that. I trust her integrity.”
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is set to release on Nov. 16, 2018. See more reactions below.