When Johnny Depp was cast for the role of Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, there was concern over the casting decision because of recent allegations against Depp. Depp’s now ex-wife, Amber Heard, accused him of abuse during their marriage.
J.K. Rowling addressed the anger and controversy surrounding the role, while also defending the decision. “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 said “the inability to speak openly to fans about this issue has been difficult, frustrating and at times painful” for her, but “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.”
She acknowledged that many fans would still be dissatisfied about the role, but that, “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.”
Last May, Heard filed for divorce from Depp, and had a temporary restraining order against him. The pair agreed their relationship was “intensely passionate and, at times, volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”