J.K. Rowling is ‘Genuinely Happy’ Johnny Depp is Starring in ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ But Considered Recasting Him

One of the biggest shocks in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was the revelation that Colin Farrell’s Percival Grave was actually the notorious evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald in disguise. Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance in the film as Grindelwald, confirming the actor would be playing the villain in future sequels. The casting decision received backlash since Depp has been accused of domestic violence by ex-wife Amber Heard, and now J.K. Rowling has broken her silence on the role.

“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 wrote in a statement on her website. “‘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.”

Rowling says that it has been “difficult, frustrating and at times painful” to stay silent on Depp’s casting, but she notes that “agreements 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,” Rowling concluded.

Heard accused Depp of emotional and physical abuse during their marriage, which lasted one year. The actress released a video of Depp having a tantrum and a photo of herself with a black eye. Depp has denied the allegations.

Rowling’s statement arrives just a few weeks after “Fantastic Beasts” director David Yates defended the casting of Depp, calling the controversy a “dead issue.”

“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,” Yates told Entertainment Weekly. “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.”

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald” opens in theaters November 16, 2018.