Johnny Depp’s casting in the Fantastic Beasts series is the hill upon which Warner Bros. has chosen to fight and die. Director David Yates addressed the ongoing casting controversy in an exclusive for Entertainment Weekly on Tuesday, and he seemed to attribute it to the current climate of, um, calling out toxic masculinity.
“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 EW. “With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something.”
That “one person” was Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard, and the “pop” she took was sharing photos and accounts of domestic abuse against him.
“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,” Yates added. “Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.”
“By testament, some of the women in [Depp’s] life have said the same thing — ‘that’s not the human being we know,’” Yates continued. “It’s very different [than cases] where there are multiple accusers over many years that need to be examined and we need to reflect on our industry that allows that to roll on year in and year out. Johnny isn’t in that category in any shape or form. So to me, it doesn’t bear any more analysis. It’s a dead issue.”
The statement is troubling on a few counts because it shows a grave misunderstanding on Yates’ part of what’s currently happening in Hollywood and why. No one has said that Depp is in the same category as serial harassers and sexual assaulters who have been outed regularly in the news since October. No one is saying Depp abused his previous partners (some of whom vouched for him), but Heard testified that he hurt her and was granted a restraining order. That is fact and legal record, and it continues to trouble Harry Potter fans who can’t reconcile Depp’s reputation with the books’ message.
Harry Potter author and Fantastic Beasts scribe J.K. Rowling has previously defended Depp’s casting, but not since new teasers for The Crimes of Grindelwald or in the year since the first Fantastic Beasts film released.