Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald director David Yates has defended Johnny Depp's casting. Johnny Depp has certainly had a long and interesting career in Hollywood. He started out as a young heartthrob with his roles on the TV series 21 Jump Street and in movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Cry-Baby. After he grew up a little, Depp's career became more serious and reached its peak with roles in Edward Scissorhands, Benny & Joon, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. However, starting with the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, his career took another jump into over the top characters and Depp seemed to begin just having fun.
With his current roster of big and silly characters, the Harry Potter universe was a potentially good fit for Depp. Though the first eight movies were completely out of his reach, the Kentucky born actor had no chance when all the roles were being cast with natives of the UK. So, when original prequel movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was set in New York City and American actors were cast in a number of roles, Depp found his chance and had a small cameo at the end, playing the evil Gellert Grindlewald in his true form.
The decision to cast Depp was met with controversy, as his ex-wife Amber Heard had accused the actor of being physically abusive to her and provided evidence proving as much, prompting a fan demand for Depp to be recast in the sequel - which promises a much bigger role for Grindlewald, as its title implies. However, the role was not recast and Yates has now explained the logic behind the decision to EW:
“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. 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.”
The multiple "people being accused of things" that Yates is referring to is, of course, the fallout from Harvey Weinstein being accused of many accounts of sexual assault and harassment, along with actors Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven, and Andy Dick, Arrowverse writer and producer Andrew Kreisberg, director James Tobeck, and several other big names in Hollywood. All have been accused by a number people - many of whom they worked with - of sexual misconduct. It's sort of interesting that Yates mentions this, as none of this fallout had occurred when Depp was first cast.
Yates also goes on to explain that several of Depp's exes claim they never saw an abusive side to him, whereas many of the big names in Hollywood to recently be accused have numerous accusers. His volatile relationship with model Kate Moss and history of arrests - including one for assaulting a security guard, one for getting involved in a fight with paparazzi, and another for trashing a hotel room with Moss inside - are not mentioned by the director.
None of Yates' statements either confirm or deny Depp's guilt or innocence, as abusers are often careful not to show their true selves to witnesses, and whether someone has a history of abuse or not does not prove whether specific abusive events happened. Still, it was enough for Yates to keep the actor in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald. As for whether fans are angry enough about his casting to boycott and affect the box office, that remains to be seen.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018