David Yates, director of the last four Harry Potter movies and its spin-off series Fantastic Beasts, has come out in defense of Johnny Depp, the controversial lead actor of the new films.
Depp played the main character, Newt Scamander, in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was released in 2016. The sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, is set to come out November 16, 2018.
Depp attracted controversy, however, during his divorce proceedings with Amber Head, who accused him (with some evidence) of having physically abused her during their marriage. This has led to some fans demanding that he be recast for the new film.
Yates explained his reasons for keeping Depp during a discussion with EW:
“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,” he said, no doubt referring to the many abuse accusations that have come out since the Harvey Weinstein scandal began some weeks ago.
However, Yates goes on to argue that so far, Depp has only been accused by one person, and though he stops short of accusing Head of lying, he says that there is a major contrast between Depp as she has described him and the very kind person whom Yates has always found him to be.
He continued by noting that several of Depp’s other exes have come out and said that he never acted abusively toward them, in contrast to many other celebrities involved in recent abuse scandals who have accumulated multiple accusers.
Obviously commenting on a “he said, she said” case like this is very risky, and understandably feelings about these issues can be very strong. It remains to be seen how fans will react to Yates’ reasoning, and how that ultimately affects the film.