The casting of Johnny Depp in The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second instalment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, has been met with everything from widespread criticism to deep hurt.

Plenty of the criticism has been directed at J.K. Rowling, both for not listening to the fans and for not speaking up about the decision to continue employing Depp in the wake of the domestic abuse allegations by his ex-wife, Amber Heard.

Rowling has now finally, finally spoken up, cryptically tweeting that she’s “saying what she can” while both defending the casting and revealing that they considered replacing him.

“When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he’d be wonderful in the role. However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise,” she said.

“Harry Potter fans had legitimate questions and concerns about our choice to continue with Johnny Depp in the role. As David Yates, long-time Potter director, has already said, we naturally considered the possibility of recasting. I understand why some have been confused and angry about why that didn’t happen.”

She says that the inability to speak out has been frustrating, but that “based on our understanding of the circumstances”, she and the filmmakers are happy to continue employing Depp.

johnny depp

“The huge, mutually supportive community that has grown up around Harry Potter is one of the greatest joys of my life. For me personally, the inability to speak openly to fans about this issue has been difficult, frustrating and at times painful. However, the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, 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’ve loved writing the first two screenplays and I can’t wait for fans to see The Crimes of Grindelwald. 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.”

Rowling’s words have been met with disappointment, anger, and further calls to boycott the film.

We’ve been over this again and again, but it’s worth repeating here: the domestic abuse allegations against Depp came from Heard filing a domestic violence restraining order in the course of their divorce. Court documents filed by Depp’s business managers stated that they’d witnessed the alleged abuse. Heard later dropped the charge when the couple settled their divorce out of court, and they issued a statement saying that “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.”

Recently, Yates came in to defend his star, calling Depp’s alleged abuse “a dead issue” and Heard essentially a liar who “took a pop” at his leading star.

We’ll probably never know the full, intimate circumstances of Depp and Heard’s situation, but at this point, the Fantastic Beasts franchise is dangerously close to losing its fanbase.

If you would like to access support for issues around domestic violence, please call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Image: Getty Images / Michael Loccisano