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J.K. Rowling Stands By Casting Johnny Depp In Fantastic Beasts

Although some fans have called for Johnny Depp to be removed from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, he has some powerful people in his corner.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling released a statement standing by Depp and his casting as the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts series.

It all began when Depp's ex-wife Amber Heard made allegations of abuse during their messy divorce. Although Heard withdrew the claims one day before a restraining order hearing was scheduled to begin in August, it was enough to prompt an outcry that Depp should be replaced in the family-friendly franchise. Depp first made a cameo as Grindelwald in last year's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but he's set to take on a much larger role in next year's Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Here's Rowling's statement:

"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."

Warner Bros, on behalf of Yates and Heyman, released another statement that echoes Rowling's sentiment. "We are of course aware of reports that surfaced around the end of Johnny Depp's marriage, and take seriously the complexity of the issues involved. This matter has been jointly addressed by both parties, in a statement in which they said 'there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.' Based on the circumstances and the information available to us, we, along with the filmmakers, continue to support the decision to proceed with Johnny Depp in the role of Grindelwald in this and future films."

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which also stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander and Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, will be released Nov. 16, 2018.