JK Rowling defends casting Johnny Depp in new 'Fantastic Beasts' film amid fan backlash

"Harry Potter" author JK Rowling has defended the casting of Johnny Depp in the upcoming "Fantastic Beasts" film. Depp faced allegations of domestic abuse and blackmail following his divorce last year.

Author JK Rowling urged fans upset over Johnny Depp's casting in the upcoming "Fantastic Beasts" film to respect private circumstances surrounding the actor's divorce last year.

In a statement on her website, Rowling said, "'Harry Potter' fans had legitimate questions and concerns about our choice to continue with Johnny Depp in the role" and that she and director David Yates had even considered recasting the role.

Read more: JK Rowling explores North American magic ahead of new film

"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," wrote the "Harry Potter" author. "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."

Culture

The friend of magical beasts

Newt Scamander, the main character played by Eddie Redmayne, is a "magizoologist." He's afraid of wizards and especially of humans. He understands the magical creatures he is studying a lot better. A series of five "Fantastic Beasts" films will center on this character.

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On a research trip

In the 1920s, Newt Scamander is traveling around the world to explore magical creatures. An unfortunate incident makes him stay longer than planned in New York, where he was only supposed to stop over. The fantastic beasts Scamander was carrying in his suitcase manage to escape and destroy the city.

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Magical interrogation

For his serious offense, Newt Scamander is prosecuted by the Magical Congress of the United States of America. He is questioned by the Auror Percival Graves, played by Colin Farrell.

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Love on a mission

While trying to recover his fantastic beasts, Newt Scamander meets Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). As expected from a good blockbuster, the sparks from their magic wands aren't the only ones that fly...

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Harry Potter's school book

Newt Scamander appears in the stories of Harry Potter as the author of a school book on fantastic beasts. J.K. Rowling published the book under Scamander's pseudonym. It includes different notes that Harry Potter scribbled into it while studying it.

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Family ancestors in the Harry Potter universe

The magizoologist Newt Scamander was not only the author of Harry Potter's school book, but also the grandfather of Luna Lovegood's husband. Luna is the crazy outsider in the Hogwarts wizarding school who assists Harry Potter in his fight against his archenemy, the Dark Lord Voldemort.

Rowling added: "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."

Depp is set to star as villain Gellert Grindelwald in the upcoming "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," which is scheduled to be released at the end of 2018.

The film will be the second in a planned five-movie spinoff of the hugely successful "Harry Potter" franchise.

Depp made a brief cameo as Grindelwald in the first film, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," but is set to star as one of the main characters in the sequel.

Bitter divorce

Depp separated from actress Amber Heard in May 2016, after she accused the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star of being "verbally and physically abusive."

Depp, however, has maintained that the allegations were "salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies."

The divorced couple reached a private settlement in August 2016 and issued a joint-settlement saying their relationship was "intensely passionate and at times volatile but always bound by love," and that there was "never any intent of physical or emotional harm."

The film studio Warner Bros. said in a statement that, while recognizing "the magnitude of the issues raised," they stood by the decision to cast Depp.

At the beginning of 2017, Depp declared bankruptcy, with some media reports suggesting the actor had enjoyed a $2 million-a-month (€1.7 million) lifestyle.

dm/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP)