JK Rowling addresses backlash surrounding Johnny Depp's casting in Fantastic Beasts 2

Jack Shepherd

Following the release of the first image from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, fans expressed their annoyance that Johnny Depp had not been recast.

The image confirmed the actor would once again play the titular villainous wizard despite last year’s domestic violence accusations from ex-wife Amber Heard.

Director David Yates recently commented on the controversy, himself being criticised for reasoning that Depp’s exes — Vanessa Paradis, Lori Anne Allison and Winona Ryder — had all come to the actor’s defence.

Writing on the Harry Potter fansite Pottermore, series creator JK Rowling issued a statement on Depp’s casting in a post simply titled ‘Grindelwald casting’.

“When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he’d be wonderful in the role,” she wrote. “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.”

Rowling acknowledged the Harry Potter community and the “difficult, frustrating and at times painful” experience of not being able to previously talk about Depp.

“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.”

The author added she loved writing the screenplays for the first two Fantastic Beasts and accepts that people will be dissatisfied by Depp’s casting.

“However, conscience isn’t governable by committee,” she wrote. “Within the fictional world and outside it, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing.”

Rowling has only once previously commented on Depp’s casting, only saying she was “delighted” the actor took the role, adding: "He's done incredible things with that character.”

Fantastic Beasts 2 reaches cinemas 16 November 2018.