It was recently confirmed that Johnny Depp would be taking on the role of Grindelwald – aka the Big Bad – of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film franchise, and is slated to make a surprise appearance in the first installment, due out later this month.
While his casting has been controversial, author JK Rowling has praised the actor, saying he has done “incredible things with that character”.
Though plenty of readers were overjoyed to learn that such a mammoth character would be appearing on screen, others claimed that it called for a British or European actor – and that Orlando Bloom would have been a better choice.
Some have cited his recent high-profile divorce from Amber Heard, insisting that a man accused of domestic abuse should not be cast in such a huge film, even if the case had been settled out of court.
To do so, some said, would only ‘normalise’ abusive behaviour.
Speaking on the red carpet at the film’s world premiere in New York, Rowling said she was “delighted” that he would be portraying the dark wizard on screen, saying: “He's done incredible things with that character.”
Her comments were echoed by director David Yates, who said: “You have to trust us and see what he does in this movie.
“You won't see very much in this movie because he appears in it very fleetingly. He appears much more in the second movie.
“What you have to remember about Johnny is that extraordinary talent and that talent never goes away. Hollywood is such a fickle place. People go up and go down.”
He added: “He's a huge Potter fan. He loves the world. He was beyond excited about working on this material. In fact he didn't even want to see a script, he just said 'I'm in'.”
According to court documents published in People, Heard said she was physically abused by Depp on “two separate instances,” including one night when Depp gave her a black eye. She was granted a temporary restraining order.
The two settled the case out of court, and, in a joint statement, said their relationship had been “volatile”, saying: “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love.”
It also said there was no “intent” to cause physical harm.
Heard donated the financial settlement to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union – a move which would seem to go against previous claims from Depp’s lawyers, filed in court papers, that she was trying to “secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse”.
Meanwhile, it has been widely speculated that a sequel to Fantastic Beasts will see Grindelwald interact with a young Professor Dumbledore – and explore the romantic relationship that was only hinted at in the original Harry Potter series.
Addressing the rumours, Rowling told The Mirror: "I can't tell you everything I'd like to say because obviously it's a five-part story and there's lots to unpack in that relationship.”
She continued: "I will say you'll see Dumbledore as a younger man and quite a troubled man because he wasn't always the sage. He was always very clever.
"We'll see him at what I think was the formative period of his life.
"As far as his sexuality is concerned, watch this space."
Images: Rex Pictures