Shortly before Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released in November 2016, news of Depp's stunt casting leaked in the media. He appeared briefly at the end of the movie, with the promise of a bigger return in its sequel, set for release on Nov. 16, 2018. Earlier that year, Depp's volatile marriage to Amber Heard made headlines, leading some to question his casting.
Last month, director David Yates defended his decision to keep Depp. "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. 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," he told Entertainment Weekly. Calling it a "dead issue," he said "some of the women" in Depp's life have defended him against the claims made by his ex-wife. "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," Yates explained. "So to me, it doesn't bear any more analysis."
Warner Bros. Pictures
"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," the best-selling author continued in her blog post. "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 [Depp and Heard], 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," Rowling concluded, "we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing."
Depp, for his part, has yet to comment on the casting controversy.
Warner Bros., which distributes the films, also issued a statement Thursday regarding Depp's involvement in the series. "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,'" a spokesperson said. "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."