Wednesday, December 06, 2017

(UPDATED) J.K. Rowling, David Yates Respond to Controversial Fantastic Beasts Casting

Actor Johnny Depp Cast in JK Rowlings Fantastic Beasts
The Fantastic Beasts spin-off is gearing up for its second movie set for theatrical release next year, but is facing some substantial backlash along the way. As the film's title was announced in November, Warner Bros and company were under fire for one essential casting element: Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald, ex-lover and foe of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore (to be played by Jude Law).

While making his first appearance in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in 2016, the actor was charged with allegations of domestic violence by his soon-to-be ex-wife Amber Heard. Though the complicated divorce proceedings were ultimately settled between the pair, Harry Potter fans continued to call on a change of the role due to Depp's history.

Though staying largely out of the commentary of whether Depp should be removed or stay on for the role, author J.K. Rowling finally released a statement on her her official website (can be read in full at the link):
[...] 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.[...] 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. 
Further lending his support to the productions' casting, veteran director of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchise David Yates called the controversial casting of Depp "a dead issue". In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he further addressed the backlash further and the issue between the couple:
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. With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something. 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.
Depp's casting as Grindelwald promises to be a prominent role in the upcoming four films. The first sequel is subsequently named after his character, and the story eludes to exploring the great battle between himself and Dumbledore in depth.

While Warner Bros, director, and author's intention to support their choice might've been to soothe the backlash, the choice of words by Yates and Rowling has only garnered more attention. Fans are disappointed not only with Yates's position that insinuates victim-shaming and perpetuates dangerous stereotypes, but with Rowling's stance considering the issues woven through Harry Potter.

Abuse, bullying, respect, and equality are just some of the themes readers grew up taking important life lessons with them into adulthood to create social change in the real Muggle world. Rowling's choice of seemingly siding with Depp comes to a surprise for Potterheads considering her use of novels and twitter to speak out against human rights issues (from immigration to domestic violence). Additionally, Rowling also went as far as to block fans who disagree or criticized her stance before making the official statement.

While it is true that the couple settled their divorce and moved on, the public continues to judge for themselves. Whether fans to choose to separate the art from the artist with Depp, or boycott the upcoming sequels entirely, continues to be an ongoing divide in the fandom.

Amber Heard has broken her silence via social media regarding the news swirling around Depp's casting. She re-posted the original statement both her and Depp released at the time of their settlement, and noted that some of the details by Warner Bros, David Yates, and JK Rowling has left out vital info about their contentious separation.

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