Actor Daniel Radcliffe, most famous for portraying the titular boy wizard through eight Harry Potter films, has broken his silence regarding the controversy surrounding actor Johnny Depp's casting in the spinoff Fantastic Beasts movie franchise. The second film in the series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, raised the ire of Potter-heads around the world when producers declined to recast the role of the villainous wizard Gellert Grindelwald, whom Depp portrayed in the first installment.
The controversy stems from Depp's tumultuous divorce from actress Amber Heard, who will be playing the role of Mera in the upcoming Aquaman movie. Heard accused Depp of mental and physical abuse, before the pair finalized their split. Heard's supporters have since urged a boycott of the Fantastic Beasts movies for as long as Depp is involved in them.
“It’s a very hard thing for me,” Radcliffe said in a statement to EW regarding the matter, adding that he wanted to be supportive of the producers who “gave me a great start in life and an amazing job.” With that said, Radcliffe expressed his understanding of the point of view of the protesters:
"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 NFL, 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."
The "guy" to whom Radcliffe is referring is actor Jamie Waylett, who played bully Vincent Crabbe in the first six Harry Potter films. Waylett was dropped from the cast of the two Deathly Hollows movies after being arrested for possession of marijuana in 2009. It is worth noting, however, that Waylett was brought up on formal criminal charges and plead guilty. Depp has never faced any charges in any court, save the court of public opinion.
The one certainty in all of this is that this controversy is not going away anytime soon. Both director David Yates and Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling have issued statements of support for Depp remaining in the movies, but that has done little to deter the controversy around Depp's casting.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018