JK Rowling has said she’s “genuinely happy” to have Johnny Depp stay in the Fantastic Beasts cast, despite concerns about stories about him in the press.
The author admitted recasting the role had been “naturally considered” after Depp was accused of domestic abuse by ex-wife Amber Heard – claims he denied.
Yet she said she was now “comfortable” for him to stay as Gellert Grindelwald.
The Harry Potter author has written the screenplays for the spin-off films, the second of which is out next year.
The first, titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was released in 2016.
JK Rowling’s full statement:
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Depp’s divorce from actress Amber Heard was finalised in January after months of wrangling over the terms.
Heard, the actor’s second wife, claimed he had been physically abusive, allegations Depp repeatedly denied.
In August last year, the pair released a joint statement saying their relationship had been “intensely passionate and at times volatile” but had always been “bound by love”.
Depp, 54, made a brief appearance in the first Fantastic Beasts film but is expected to play a more prominent role in its sequel.