We’re still months away from the debut of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, but Johnny Depp’s presence in the film continues to cause controversy among fans. (For those who have been hiding under a rock, or patiently staring at their mailbox waiting for a Hogwarts letter: Depp plays Grindelwald, the dark wizard, in the franchise, which launched in the fall of 2016. In the spring of 2016, Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard accused him of domestic abuse; Depp has denied the claims.)
It seems unlikely that we’ll get Christopher Plummer in wizardly garb at the end of all this: both Fantastic Beasts director David Yates and scribe J.K. Rowlinghave defended Depp’s involvement, and seem unlikely to change their positions anytime soon. Harry Potter, however, understands the frustration.
The Boy Who Lived told Entertainment Weekly Friday that the controversy is “a very hard thing” for him to reconcile, given that the franchise gave him, as he put it, “a great start in life and an amazing job.” Still, he said, “I can see why people are frustrated with the response that they were given from that . . . I’m not saying anything that anybody hasn’t already said—and this is a weird analogy to draw—[but] in the N.F.L., there are lots of players arrested for smoking weed, and there is other people’s behavior that goes way beyond that, and it’s tolerated because they’re very famous players. I suppose the thing I was struck by was we did have a guy who was reprimanded for weed on the [original Potter] film, essentially. So obviously what Johnny has been accused of is much greater than that.”
Jamie Waylett, who played Crabbe in the original Harry Potter films, was indeed absent fromHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 after he was caught growing cannabis plants in his bedroom.
Last November, Yates offered this take: “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.” Rowling more or less followed suit in December, publishing a statement to her Web site in which she wrote, “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.”
To some fans, that will mean skipping the film when it debuts in November. It’s a real pity—especially because Plummer would make a great Grindelwald.