J.K. Rowling on Thursday broke her silence on the growing calls to recast Johnny Depp in the upcoming sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them due to previous allegations of domestic abuse against the actor.
In a statement the Harry Potter author shared on her website Thursday, Rowling acknowledged fans' concerns but ultimately defended the casting decision.
"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.
Calls for Depp to be removed from the series began before the first movie had even come out, when actress Amber Heard, Depp's now ex-wife, took out a restraining order against him in May 2016 after claiming he was "verbally and physically abusive."
Rowling said she and director David Yates had considered recasting the role of Gellert Grindelwald when the allegations against Depp first emerged, but they decided not to due to "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."
"I accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role," said Rowling. "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."
Richard Shotwell / AP
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, director David Yates and producer David Heyman also said they "stand by our decision to have Johnny in the films."
"None of us involved in Fantastic Beasts would ever let our appreciation of talent obscure other, far more important considerations," they said.
"We recognised the magnitude of the issues raised and understood the strength of feeling expressed," they said. "We hoped and strived at all times to be sensitive to both parties."
Rowling's statement was met with significant pushback from some fans, many of whom said they will boycott the upcoming movie.
j.k. rowling wrote a story about a boy who grew up in an abusive situation and yet continues to openly support know… https://t.co/8ctZJKaAvX04:35 PM - 07 Dec 2017
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ok so since the abuser and the victim got into a judicial agreement or something y'all are happy to pretend the abu… https://t.co/OItyAuz2sS04:38 PM - 07 Dec 2017
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Heard said that, on May 21, 2016, Depp threw a cell phone at her, which struck her in the face, and then pulled her hair and hit her in a drunken rage.
Photos of Heard submitted to the court alleging the May 21 attack show bruising around her eye.
Heard dropped the case the following August, and the former couple released a statement saying their relationship was "intensely passionate and at times volatile, but was always bound by love."
The statement did not confirm or deny whether physical abuse took place.
Here is Rowling's 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.
Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Julia Reinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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