I usually try not to get into major social issues, but this one hit home like nothing else ever has. The casting of Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in the Crimes of Grindelwald. Johnny Depp is known to have committed domestic violence, having beaten up his wife Amber Heard. This is something that he has admitted to.
Now the last year has had a series of ‘outings’ with one person after the other being accused of and more often than not proven to have committed some form of sexual or physical assault. But there is one person whose callousness and utter lack of empathy has stood out in all this, and she is the absolute last person who I, and so many others would have expected this of. Joanne Katherine Rowling.
J.K. Rowling defends the casting of Johnny Depp in the Fantastic Beasts movies. Her official statement says that “conscience is not governable by committee” and that she is “genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major role in the films”. To say that her statement is heart-breaking is an understatement. Those who would defend the statement, while the loyalty that exists for her is exceptionally strong, must remember now that she is on the casting committee and has full power to recast at any time she wants. A power that she has outright refused to use.
We’re talking about the JKR here, the one person who has always been incredibly outspoken about the rights of others, who till this moment has always been the one person who you could count on to do and say what was right. This is the person who lost her billionaire status by giving to charity and setting up the Lumos foundation. How could this person, turn out to be an abuse apologist.
On a far more personal note, imagine being somewhere in your late teens or early twenties, and reading about this. Imagine having grown up with Harry, so much so that his life has been a defining part of your childhood, and hearing something like this from the person who created him and his world. The Harry Potter books have dealt with so many forms of abuse, and bigotry, and depression and a hundred other themes that are far too relevant no matter who you are. The author of these books that have basically defined an entire generation is now defending men who admit to having committed domestic violence (please don’t tell me about allegations that may or may not be false, he’s said it himself).
I, myself have spent my entire life idolizing J.K Rowling. As a child I fantasized about what it would be like to meet her, what I’d say, what she’d say, whether I’d be able to get a picture to prove it or not. And now she’s fallen from my mind. When your idol falls, they fall so hard they leave a crater in your heart. And I think this is true for millions of people around the world who truly believed that she was above it all, that of all the great men and women who have come and gone, she would be the one who would remain untarnished. But clearly that is not true. For me, now the books seem tainted and I don’t think I will ever be able read them again without being reminded about this. I wish I could say that my loyalty towards this woman who I have never met and who doesn’t know I exist, is gone but I can’t. And that is what makes this whole thing so much worse.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Albus Dumbeldore said,” the time may come when you have to choose between doing what is right and what is easy”. Today J.K Rowling has chosen to do what is easy. And as a person who spent her whole life admiring and basically hero-worshipping her, I could not possibly be more disappointed.
This was the statement that was released by Rowling on her website.
“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. “