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J.K. Rowling Defends Decision to Cast Johnny Depp in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Amid Fan Outrage

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is coming to the defense of Johnny Depp.

Following news that Depp would be reappearing as Gellert Grindelwald in the next Fantastic Beasts movie, fans expressed outrage since Depp’s marriage to actress Amber Heard ended in divorce last year amid allegations of domestic abuse.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, due out in November 2018, is the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was based on Rowling’s 2001 spinoff of her popular Harry Potter series.

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Heard had accused Depp of “emotionally and physically abusive and inebriated behavior,” which Depp denied. The two reached a settlement in 2016, at which time they issued a joint statement that read, “Our 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.”

Rowling responded to fans’ concern in a statement on her personal website, explaining that she and director David Yates did consider recasting the role, noting that she “understand[s] why some have been confused and angry about why that didn’t happen.”

Rowling said that the circumstances of Depp and Heard’s divorce are private, and that “must be respected.” Based on her understanding of the circumstances, Rowling said, she and the filmmakers are “not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

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She concluded: “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, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing.” Director David Yates also defended the casting of Depp in an interview last month.