Fantastic Cast or a Beastly Decision?

Charley-Ann, president of the Harry Potter Society, discusses the chosen cast for the movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

The casting of Johnny Depp has brought about a lot of controversy amongst fans of the Harry Potter franchise, and the prequel films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  

This being due to the many scandalous allegations that have been made against him over the years, with the most controversial being the domestic abuse allegations from his ex-wife, Amber Heard. 

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter Series, producer and writer of the screenplay for the new movies, released a statement saying she was “genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies” and saying herself and movie director- David Yates- were comfortable to continue working alongside Depp. However, this goes against Rowling’s claims to be supportive of the Times Up and #MeToo movements, as she is ignoring the fans’ concerns with publicising, promoting and openly supporting this alleged domestic abuser. 

It is the belief of some fans that a recasting in between the first and second movie would have been a lot more appropriate, as Depp’s cameo in the first movie is brief, and hence could have been replaced.

Other fans would argue that Rowling’s decision to support Depp is contradicted, when Disney has released a statement to say they will not be continuing to work with him on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter, has said he can “see why people are frustrated” with the continued casting. 

Still, Warner Bros Studios, are standing by the decision to cast Depp. David Heyman, producer on the Fantastic Beast Films, labelled Depp “iconic” claiming that neither he nor “any of us” have the right to “judge and jury.” On the other hand, Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, settled the divorce, retracted her statement and donated her settlement money to charity. Despite this, it is still debatable if she was forced into settlement or not. This is something that fans will never know, as Depp wanted to keep the details of their divorce private. During the divorce, Heard was accused of blackmailing Depp, so supporters and fans of him have argued that she is not as innocent as she makes herself out to be, and she simply relished her 15 minutes of fame. 

Johnny Depp cast as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

When speaking on the matter to CBS News, Depp said “To harm someone you love? As a kind of bully? No, it didn’t, it couldn’t even sound like me.” He goes on to discuss how this effected his relationship with his children, saying “I do this s**t for my kids, man. How could someone, anyone, come out with something like that?” 

Furthermore, domestic abuse is not the only conviction made against Depp. He has been involved in multiple lawsuits regarding substance abuse, underpaid wages and poor working conditions. These lawsuits and accusations were filed against Depp prior to the domestic abuse allegation, so while it is uncertain that he did abuse his wife, there is definite involvement of substance abuse. This still proposes the issue that he should not be flaunted as a key character in a franchise that provides role models to millions of people globally. 

Overall, while the fans and critics alike can speculate on the decision to proceed with Depp’s casting, the truth is that until we see his performance as Grindelwald in the premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, on the 16thNovember, we cannot make a final decision on whether or not Depp is suited to the role. Regardless of any accusations in his personal life, his professional career – which include the titles of Oscar nominations and Golden Globe wins – is undoubtedly excellent.  

To conclude, it is important to note that this is not the only controversy with the new release. There are issues surrounding the sexual orientation of major characters like Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law and backlash surrounding the revelation of Claudia Kim’s character being Nagini. The only thing that we can comment on is that regardless of the discussion topics surrounding this film, fans of the universally acclaimed series, will once again come together to celebrate and enjoy the continuation and exploration of the Wizarding world. 

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