The “unreal and irresponsible” decision has been heavily criticised on Twitter.
Comic Con 2018 has been making headlines again – albeit not necessarily for the right reasons.
Johnny Depp was a surprise guest at Warner Bros’ Hall H panel, where he promoted his new movie, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, by dressing up as the titular villain to deliver an unnerving speech to fans.
Remaining in character as Grindelwald, Depp described his relationship to “muggles” –average, everyday people rather than the magically inclined – and reiterated that he did not want to destroy them, just that they were not quite “worth” as much as magicians (aka the upper caste).
“The great gift of your applause is not for me, but for yourselves,” he said.
However, while some fans were excited to see the actor, others were angered, calling his appearance on the panel “inappropriate” as ex-wife Amber Heard was on the same panel promoting her upcoming film, Aquaman.
“[This is] unreal and irresponsible,” wrote one Twitter user.
One added that the idea of Depp and Heard running into one another made them “nauseous”, while another insisted that someone had to be fired for “allowing Johnny Depp’s ugly ass to be in the same vicinity as Amber Heard”.
One Twitter user, referencing the recent controversy around Guardians of the Galaxy, added: “Y’all are mad James Gunn made some distasteful jokes on the internet, but Johnny Depp is allowed to roll on up to the club where the woman he physically assaulted is and that’s cool?”
It is worth noting that Heard and Depp were not seen crossing paths at the event. And, while both of their panels occurred in the same room, there was at least an hour separating their appearances.
Depp’s appearance at Comic Con 2018 marks his first public outing since his recent Rolling Stone profile, which presented him as frequently inebriated and crippled by financial issues.
While the article never explicitly stated the fact, it heavily implied that some of Depp’s debts related to his divorce from Heard, who accused the actor of abuse in May 2016.
“During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me,” the actress stated in court documents obtained by ET Online.
“I endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse from Johnny, which has included angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him.”
Heard said she was physically abused by Depp on “two separate instances,” including one night when Depp allegedly gave her a black eye. She was granted a temporary restraining order.
Depp and Heard 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”.
As such, when it was later announced that Depp had been cast as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, many fans expressed their opinion that a man accused of domestic abuse should not be part of such a huge film, even if the case had been settled out of court.
Distributor Warner Bros. stood by the decision to have Depp in the film, releasing a statement which read: “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.”
JK Rowling – who wrote the Harry Potter series upon which Fantastic Beasts is based – also threw her support behind the casting, releasing her own statement which read: “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.”
Heard, however, seemed unimpressed by Rowling’s comments.
Taking to Instagram, the actress posted an image of the joint statement she and Depp released on the day their divorce was finalised (see above).
Heard also added a message which seemingly addressed Rowling directly, which read: “For the record, this was our FULL joint statement.
“To pick and choose certain lines and quote them out of context, is just not right. Women, continue to stand up and stay strong. Love, Amber.”