J.K. Rowling Addresses Grindelwald Casting Concerns

Dec 07, 2017

Posted by: Emma Pocock

Casting, Depp, Directors, Fandom, Fantastic Beasts Movie, HP Cast, J.K. Rowling, Legal, Movies, News, Opinion, Warner Bros., Yates

J.K. Rowling has given her statement addressing growing concerns around the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, after he was accused by Amber Heard of domestic abuse in a complex legal case last year, ending in their divorce and a joint statement.

Debates have addressed the allegations against him, the public nature of the case and the prominent themes of abuse and Harry Potter‘s role as a light in the dark for many. Due J.K. Rowling’s presence on social media and her involvement in the Fantastic Beasts films, many frustrations or have been either targeted at her, or have called for her voice in some way.

According to USA Today, Warner Bros released this statement:

“We are of course aware of reports that surfaced around the end of Johnny Depp’s marriage, and take seriously the complexity of the issues involved.

“This matter has been jointly addressed by both parties, in a statement in which they said “there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.

Based on the circumstances and the information available to us, we, along with the filmmakers, continue to support the decision to proceed with Johnny Depp in the role of Grindelwald in this and future films.”

This is after David Heyman and David Yates spoke in an interview with Entertainment Weekly on the casting. Yates called the case a ‘dead issue’, and said the following on fan’s concerns:

“Honestly, there’s an issue at the moment where there’s a lot of people being accused of things, they’re being accused by multiple victims, and it’s compelling and frightening,” Yates said. “With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something. I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see. Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.”

“By testament, some of the women in [Depp’s] life have said the same thing — ‘that’s not the human being we know,’” Yates said. “It’s very different [than cases] where there are multiple accusers over many years that need to be examined and we need to reflect on our industry that allows that to roll on year in and year out. Johnny isn’t in that category in any shape or form. So to me, it doesn’t bear any more analysis. It’s a dead issue.”

J.K. Rowling has been put under increasing pressure to break her silence. Speaking out on the issue today via her website (which is currently experiencing crashes due to high traffic), she addressed fans directly and spoke of her initial concerns and current belief that the casting is legitimate:

“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.”

Given Depp’s major – and assumedly reoccurring – role in the Fantastic Beasts series, fans are hugely divided in opinion thus far. This has been left as largely a matter of individual public opinion, without Depp having been convicted.  In the current climate, with #MeToo revealing a torrent of sexual and domestic abuse cases beginning in Hollywood and rippling outwards, now more than ever there is a need for sensitivity, empathy and integrity in discussions of such divisive questions with high implications.

Melissa Anelli – The Leaky Cauldron’s webmistress, Harry, A History Bestselling author, PotterCast host and CEO of Mischief Management – released a statement of her personal opinions via Twitter in response to J.K. Rowling’s comments:

“Jo has never once indicated (to me) a problem with speaking my truth to her power. 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 and both of those things remain true while being deeply disappointed. 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 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.

Our concerns about Johnny Depp aren’t unfounded or unreasonable: and I don’t believe there’s a single Harry Potter fan who thinks they know everything about the circumstances.

And it isn’t about whether or not the people involved want to get on with their lives; my bet is neither of them wants any of this conversation at all. It’s about whether we continue propping up the system that implicitly says if a person is rich enough, powerful enough, or can settle things with enough discretion, they can continue to be put in powerful, important positions.

This role is an integral part of the whole Harry Potter story – bigger than Newt Scamander. He is arguably as important to the series as Dumbledore. And to put someone in that role who (it is reasonable to believe) abused his power is just not necessary. A recast is absolutely possible; contracts are bought out all the time, and with four more movies to go this kind of controversy can really, devastatingly affect things.

Why not choose the harder path? Why not say, you know what, this series is about abuses of power and social inequality — and it is a HUGE, absolutely HUGE, cultural touchstone.

You cannot dismiss the level and importance of this series and its messages on the world; you can’t pretend it’s any other story or any other film. So, while the Weinsteins of the world are being taken apart, and the Roy Moores of the world continue to win, we should be a greater part of this change. No one is entitled to a film role, and if you make a stand to say that this story shall be above reproach? No one could fault you. And there is reproach here. Dismissing the public’s concerns about that reproach feels wrong.

I’ll end this for now by saying, again, how much I love Harry Potter and how much I love J.K. Rowling, and how there really is a thought here to avoiding mob mentality to be considered. But this isn’t about a mob. At this moment Al Franken is resigning. And he should; but if he is to be held accountable so should anyone. Harry Potter fans, especially those who have grappled with domestic abuse, I am very sorry for what you’re going through. We as a fandom will address it together, as we always have. <3″

Read the full thread on Twitter here:

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will release on November 18th 2018. For now, see a first look here, and our initial announcement here.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.