JK Rowling, Warner Bros Defend Johnny Depp’s Casting in ‘Fantastic Beasts’

Harry Potter author says she’s “genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies”

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J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. are defending their decision to cast Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in the new “Fantastic Beasts” movie despite accusations leveled against the star last year.

“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,” Rowling said on her official website.

The studio also released a statement on Thursday, saying: “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.”

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 briefly in the original 2016 film set in Rowling’s wizarding world.

Director David Yates and producer David Heyman also released statements saying they stood by the decision “to have Johnny in the films,” adding that they “recognized the magnitude of the issues raised and understood the strength of feeling expressed.”

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.

In May 2016, shortly after filing for divorce from Depp, Amber Heard was granted a temporary restraining order against the actor. Heard alleged that Depp came to their Hollywood home on May 21 drunk and high, and proceeded to hit her in the face with his phone.

In a subsequent lawsuit Heard made further allegations of abuse against Depp. The suit, filed against comedian Doug Stanhope, after Stanhope said that Heard was blackmailing Depp in a column published by TheWrap, said that Depp had “hit and kicked Heard on numerous occasions, has thrown objects at her, at one point nearly suffocated her to the point where she feared for her life.”