It was confirmed this week that Johnny Depp has indeed been cast as Gellert Grindelwald in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Many fans then expressed disappointment in light of his divorce from Amber Heard and the allegations – and accompanying photos and texts and witnesses – of domestic abuse. David Yates, the director, defended the decision and said that Johnny was an “inspired, interesting fit” for the character. Last night at the Fantastic Beasts world premiere in New York, JK Rowling defended the decision, stating on the record her support of Johnny’s involvement, telling reporters that she too is “delighted” that Johnny is a part of the story and that he’s done “incredible things” in the role. She went on to tell E! News that:
"I didn't approach him—although he was approached with my full blessing, because I thought he'd be amazing in the part. I can't say much, because there are surprises in the movie, but I'm really happy with his performance," the screenwriter teased. "And I think the fans will be, too."
Well, clearly this week is determined to keep f-cking us. Is it disappointing? Of course. Jo has been outspoken against racism and misogyny and an advocate for women’s rights. So it’s understandable that her support of Johnny being in her movie feels kind of like a betrayal, as many of you have shared today in your emails to me.
I’m not here to dismiss her words. Her words must stand. At the same time, I do think it’s worth pulling back for a broader perspective and considering hers. David Yates previously revealed that Johnny’s scenes were shot in January, a few months before we found out about the f-cksh-t that went down with Amber which was in May. By that point, they would have been deep in post, and to make changes then would have been costly, both financially and logistically. So, now, just as the movie has come out, her first try as a screenwriter, can she really reveal her true feelings? If she does, that becomes the story, overshadowing the excitement of the movie and, most importantly, her work. If she doesn’t, we criticise, which is what we’re doing now. It’s an impossible position. She’s in a no-win situation. And THAT is the unfairness of misogyny.
It’s women, over and over again, who are put in places where their choices are limited. It’s Johnny Depp who allegedly did that to Amber Heard’s face. It’s Johnny Depp who raged against his wife. It’s Johnny Depp who will always be fine, who has no fewer opportunities, and who remains safely protected by his wealth and his celebrity, happily letting others go out there to face the mess that he created, including, now, a successful powerful woman – a woman who has a bigger voice than most women. Even JK Rowling has been muted by the trap of misogyny.
So, maybe one day. When this is all over and she doesn’t have to carry the burden that’s presently inextricably linked to her business, she might be able to speak freely. Because full freedom in the present seems to only be available to one gender.
As for speaking freely on other matters, like Dumbledore and who might play him, Jo told E! that:
"I have, of course, thought about this. I do have a name. I do have someone in mind, but I can't say it. Because if that person doesn't get cast, then the person who does get cast will blame me forever for having said it, won't they? So, I'm going to just keep quiet."
I wonder if who she has in mind is the same as who I have in mind: Tom Hardy!