The Harry Potter film franchise (now labelled The Wizarding World) hasn’t had much controversy over the years and that is saying a lot all things considered. That seems to be in the past now as it was recently announced that Johnny Depp would be playing a role in the Fantastic Beasts sequel, starting out with a cameo in the first film.
While the scene had been shot months in advance, it was shocking that Depp would land such a massive role in a family oriented film franchise after “alleged” domestic abuse upon Depp’s then wife Amber Heard (claims supported by Amber’s story, video and photos). The divorce was settled by Johnny before it ever went to court and usually things like this tend to worry studios about hiring an actor with this sort of baggage for projects mostly geared-towards families.
You’ll notice Depp’s Jack Sparrow was strangely missing from the teaser for Disney’s Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, a PR move from the looks of things to distance him from the film.
Instead of giving Depp a cooling-off-period like Hollywood did for Robert Downey Jr., Christian Slater, Mel Gibson and others with questionable judgement. Johnny was quickly rewarded by Warner Bros. with a massive franchise role that could span at least four more Fantastic Beasts films.
The studio and J.K. Rowling recently announcing four sequels on their way and there’s an assumption Depp could be apart of all them as his role has been confirmed to be main villain Gellert Grindelwald.
Mashable’s Jeff Sneider tried to get a quote from Warner Bros. concerning possible backlash due to claims of Depp’s domestic abuse, leading to this quote of blissful ignorance by the studio. Basically, stating they don’t see it being an issue and it’s business as usual.
WB spokesman says studio doesn’t comment on personal matters when asked whether there’s concern abt a Depp backlash due to abuse allegations
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) November 2, 2016
Haven’t seen a single positive tweet about Johnny Depp’s casting in FANTASTIC BEASTS. This can’t be the kind of PR that WB was hoping for…
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) November 2, 2016
Fans haven’t been too happy either, this is just a taste of the reactions.
— Project Casting (@ProjectCasting) November 2, 2016
This side-stepping the controversy was echoed in a recent interview with Fantastic Beasts director David Yates, who seemed to be under the impression that Depp’s talent and box office slump was in question, not that he hits/abuses women.
While speaking with The Leaky Cauldron (via The Playlist) called the claims “odd things” people are saying. An awkwardly worded reaction that seemingly overlooks the real damage and messages this sends to young men about the seriousness of domestic abuse. Yates gives the impression it’s a normal thing that talented people go through, which it’s not.
David Yates explained why they chose Depp, saying, “the whole principal of casting the movie was go with the best actor. Go for the most inspired, interesting, right fit for that character. And as we approached Grindelwald we thought, ‘who’s going to take this in an interesting direction?’ In this business, it’s a weird old business. You’re brilliant one week, people are saying odd things the next, you go up and down. But no one takes away your pure talent.”
“Johnny Depp is a real artist. He’s created several characters who have really resonated in our popular culture. He’s a really brilliant, brilliant actor. We were excited about seeing what he would do with this guy, the character. He’s fearless; he’s imaginative; he’s ambitious. We thought he would do something fun and special. So we went for him, purely on that selfish basis. We don’t care if he’s famous or not famous. We just know he’s interesting.”
You’d think both Yates and Warner Bros. would be a little more willing to talk about this without being dismissive of it. Considering, Amber Heard is apart of the WB “family” with upcoming roles in Justice League and Aquaman. Having your boss hire your abusive ex-husband and then pretend nothing happened, is likely going to make events like CinemaCon and San Diego Comic-Con an unpleasant environment for Amber.
I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if she becomes vocal on this in upcoming press events and I don’t see things going well.
Defend Depp all you want and claim he’s holding Warner Bros. hostage with his contract. Studios have fired actors for less in the past and most fan reasons to keep him on are little more than straight-up selfishness to see Johnny regain his former box office status.
It’s been suggested by biographers that creator J.K. Rowling herself was once a victim of domestic abuse, so I’m a little curious if she’ll be commenting on it as well. At the present time she’s kept quite mum on the subject of Depp’s casting and most fans are telling me this speaks volumes. Rowling quite known for advocacy fighting against violence and abuse of women, tends to suggest she’s not terribly happy at the moment.
Originally, I was looking forward to these movies and now I might have to wait for the next batch of Wizarding World movies to support.
Warner Bros. you fucked up here.
SOURCE: THE LEAKY CAULDRON