David Yates is defending Johnny Depp’s casting as the evil Grindelwald in the sequel to the Harry Potter spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” calling the backlash against the actor “a dead issue.”
“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 told Entertainment Weekly in a story published Tuesday.
“With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something,” the director said, in an apparent reference to Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard, who accused the actor of domestic abuse.
“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 continued, noting that several of Depp’s other exes, including Winona Ryder, Lori Anne Allison and Vanessa Paradis, have defended him against the accusations of abuse.
“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,” Yates added. “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.”
When Warner Bros. released a promo shot for the “Fantastic Beasts” sequel, fans online were quick to criticize the choice to keep Depp in the role of Grindelwald, an evil wizard to be chased down by a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).
Fans argued that if Kevin Spacey can be replaced in a film because of allegations, so could Depp — who had appeared in the original 2016 film set in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.
Depp’s character is expected to play a larger role in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald,” which is slated for a November 2018 release.