As the magical panel for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald took over Comic-Con San Diego, actor Johnny Depp was visibly missing from the discussion at main stage, Hall H, while Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Claudia Kim, and Jude Law answered questions about the highly-anticipated sequel.
Then, towards the end of the panel Depp suddenly appeared in character as Gellert Grindelwald.
Per The Hollywood Reporter Grindelwald delivered a “creepy” speech in which he said:
“Magic blooms only in rare souls. It is granted to those who live for higher purposes. What a world we would make for all of humanity. We, who live for freedom, for truth — the moment has come to rise up an take our rightful place in the world.”
Despite public backlash to Depp’s lead role in the film, the 55-year-old still received an almighty applause from the crowd.
About an hour after the Fantastic Beasts panel, ex-wife Amber Heard appeared on the same stage to promote her latest film Aquaman, the trailer was also debuted at the event. Both films fall under Warner Bros.
Fantastic Beast and franchise writer J.K Rowling attracted criticism last year for continuing to cast Depp in the lead role of Grindelwald despite allegations of domestic violence, following the former couple’s separation.
Heard had filed for a domestic violence restraining order a week after filing for divorce in May 2016.
Earlier this month, Depp was sued by a crew member for allegedly attacking him on the set of upcoming film City of Lies.
Location manager Gregg ‘Rocky’ Brooks filed a lawsuit on Friday, July 6 that alleges the actor physically and verbally assaulted him on set.
Since news of the surprise appearance surfaced on social media, some have criticised the convention for scheduling the panels so close together and again questioned why Depp was still involved in the franchise.
— Amir Talai 🐳 (@AmirTalai) July 21, 2018
If you think Amber Heard was lying you also think seven witnesses were lying plus his management team plus the AD of City of Lies. You’d rather believe 12 people are fabricating abuse stories for no reason at all than believe Edward Scissorhands is now an abusive POS? #johnnydepp
— firstname.lastname@example.org (@mspricklefinger) July 22, 2018
When the #SDCC2018 brings out your abuser at the same stage, let your co-stars to surround you with love #Aquaman #AmberHeard #JasonMomoa #NicoleKidman #IWantToBeInThaTSandwich 😋 pic.twitter.com/tFKlvtTV7T
— STIRGUS SACCHETTI (@stirgussa) July 21, 2018
In light of Disney firing Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn for a series of disturbing tweets made between 2008 and 2011, many fans also brought up the inconsistencies in the industry.
Gunn was set to appear at the convention but pulled out following his dismissal.
So @Disney will fire @JamesGunn for off-colour jokes he made 7 years ago, but will employ #JohnnyDepp who abused his ex-wife. Gunn is a political victim targeted by @Cernovich who’s trying to attack Gunn’s livelihood & influence. #BringBackJamesGunn
— Booboo Kittiefukk (@boobookittifukk) July 22, 2018
However, others in the fandom supported Depp for his appearance and #JohnnyDeppIsMyGrindelwald soon started to trend on Twitter.
Last month, Depp received wide attention after his bizarre interview with The Rolling Stones. In it, he discussed the breakdown of his marriage, disgraced American filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, and Osama Bin Laden.