Johnny Depp “felt bad” for JK Rowling following Fantastic Beasts casting backlash

The filmmakers have stood by the actor following abuse allegations made by ex-wife Amber Heard

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 05: Johnny Depp speaks at the 'A conversation with...' event during the 14th Zurich Film Festival on October 05, 2018 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

Johnny Depp has spoken for the first time about the controversy surrounding his casting in Fantastic Beasts, saying that he “felt bad” that Harry Potter author JK Rowling had to respond to criticism over his role in the franchise.

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Depp’s casting as dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spin-off franchise has been called into question in light of the abuse allegations made against Depp by ex-wife Amber Heard.

Depp has strongly denied the allegations.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly ahead of the film’s release, Depp has re-iterated his claim that he was falsely accused, adding that he has presented the Harry Potter author with evidence which he will use as part of a defamation case against The Sun.

“I’ll be honest with you, I felt bad for JK having to field all these various feelings from people out there,” he said.

“I felt bad that she had to take that. 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. JK has seen the evidence and therefore knows I was falsely accused, and that’s why she has publicly supported me.”

He continued: “She doesn’t take things lightly. She would not stand up if she didn’t know the truth. So that’s really it.”

In December last year, Rowling released a statement in defence of the decision to cast Depp as the villain in the Fantastic Beasts sequel, saying that while she had been initially “deeply concerned” by the stories, she has since been convinced that keeping him in the film was the right thing to do.

“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,” she said.

Heard and Depp finalised their divorce in January 2017. In court documents, Heard accused Depp of being physically and emotionally abusive towards her, claims which Depp denies.

At a recent #MeToo event in Hollywood, Heard read an open letter in which he wrote about her anxieties about going public with the allegations.

“It’s no wonder that so many of us feel that we have to keep quiet, or keep our own safety to try to maintain our dignity by quietly enduring,” she said. “The fear of being ostracised by your community is just about the most terrifying prospect there is.”

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will be released in UK cinemas on 16th November 2018