J.K. Rowling has broken her silence over the backlash to Johnny Depp's casting as Grindelwald in the "Fantastic Beasts" films, following domestic abuse allegations from his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
In a lengthy statement on her official website, the author and writer/producer of the movies defended their decision to keep Depp in the franchise despite the allegations that came out during the actor's very messy and very public divorce.
"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," Rowling admitted.
"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," she continued. "I understand why some have been confused and angry about why that didn't happen."
Though many fans had been vocal about Rowling's lack of comment on the issue, she said Depp and Heard's private divorce settlement led to their decision to keep him involved.
"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," she continued. "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 accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role," she conceded, "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."
Social media blew up earlier this month after the first image of Depp as the villainous Grindelwald was released online. Though the actor made a quick cameo in the first "Fantastic Beasts" film, his role will be widely expanded upon in the upcoming sequel, and the director already defended Depp's involvement, as well.
"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," director David Yates previously told EW. "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."
Heard got a temporary restraining order against Depp in 2016, accusing him of being "verbally and physically abusive" during their marriage. She later dismissed the request after the two settled their divorce. Depp denied the alleged abuse at the time.
"Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love," Depp and Heard said in a joint statement after settling their divorce. "Neither party has lied nor made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm. Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future. Amber will be donating financial proceeds from the divorce to a charity. There will be no further public statements about this matter."