Johnny Depp never wanted to put J.K. Rowling in an uncomfortable position.
The 55-year-old actor's casting in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them drew mixed reactions from Harry Potter fans after he was unveiled at the end of the first film.
Depp, as well as the famed author, received backlash after he was involved in troubled divorce proceedings and was accused of physically and emotionally abusing his ex-wife, Amber Heard. Depp has denied the allegations. He, however, does admit to feeling bad that Rowling has to endure the negative comments surrounding his role as Grindelwald in the forthcoming sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
"I’ll be honest with you, I felt bad for J.K. having to field all these various feelings from people out there. I felt bad that she had to take that," Depp told EW in an interview published on Thursday. "But ultimately, there is real controversy. The fact remains I was falsely accused, which is why I’m suing the Sun newspaper for defamation for repeating false accusations. J.K. has seen the evidence and therefore knows I was falsely accused, and that’s why she has publicly supported me. She doesn’t take things lightly. She would not stand up if she didn’t know the truth. So that’s really it."
Heard filed for divorce from Depp in May 2016, after one year of marriage. Days later, the filed for a restraining order against Depp, alleging he was abusive to her while they were together. Despite the bitter proceedings, in August 2016, Heard withdrew her restraining order request, and the exes settled their divorce, saying in a joint statement, "Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love," adding, "Neither party has made false accusations for financial gains. There was never an intent of physical or emotional harm."
As for Rowling, back in December, she explained how she stood by her decision to cast the actor as the films' villain.
"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," Rowling said in a statement to ET at the time. "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."
Rowling lamented the inability to address fans more candidly about the issue, but maintained that she and the filmmakers stand by Depp's casting. Warner Bros. also echoed the famed author's sentiments, telling ET in a statement: "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,'" the statement continued. "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."
The actor, though, did receive a great welcome from Fantastic Beasts fans when he surprised them during San Diego Comic-Con in July. The movie star appeared dressed as the villainous Grindelwald, rocking a short, platinum-blond cut and period-era coat while waving a magic wand at the throng of cheering fans inside the massive Hall H before they screened the trailer.
The cast told ET they knew Depp was coming. "They flipped their lids," Katherine Waterston explained, with Jude Law adding, "They flipped their lids, and then when he started speaking, it went silent. You could hear a pin drop. It was amazing."
Meanwhile, Depp continues to be involved in the controversy. He recently opened up about the abuse allegations against him in an interview with British GQ. Heard's lawyers, however, disputed his "shameful" claims and called out the publication for not fully doing an investigation. The actor's team then responded to Heard's lawyers by saying that "Mr. Depp is simply defending himself against Ms. Heard’s lingering false abuse accusations."
See more on Depp's difficult year in the video below.
Johnny Depp's 7 Biggest 'GQ' Reveals: From Amber Heard Abuse Allegations to Almost Getting Fired Off 'Pirates'
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