JK Rowling is Wrong to Support Johnny Depp in “The Crimes of Grindelwald”

Matthew Loffhagen
Warner Bros
(Photo: Warner Bros)

There’s been a bit of turmoil recently following some remarks from JK Rowling surrounding the role of Johnny Depp in the next “Fantastic Beasts” movie, perhaps poorly titled “The Crimes of Grindelwald”.

The actor, who’ll be playing the titular Grindelwald, has been convicted of a fair amount of crimes himself, leading many people involved with the movie, including director David Yates and now Rowling herself, to insist that, for personal reasons, they’ve elected to forgive Depp’s violent treatment of his ex-wife.

Said Rowling in her statement:

“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.”

This echoes comments from David Yates last year, when Depp was first announced as the new face of Grindelwald, in which he stated:

“In this business, it’s a weird old business. You’re brilliant one week, people are saying odd things the next, you go up and down. But no one takes away your pure talent.”

In this matter, it’s difficult to side with Rowling and Yates – and not just because Depp has been proven to be a danger to his ex-wife’s safety.

Some people, after all, are unwilling to side against domestic abusers if they’re charming enough. Sadly, handsome people can get away with a lot of crimes, and people can start making up excuses for why they should be kept around, or why their previous misdeeds aren’t that big of a deal.

Gellert Grindelwald
Source: Warner Bros

So, that being the case, let’s examine the claim that Depp is somehow worthy of being forgiven of his sins purely because of his acting ability and box office draw.

Leaving aside the fact that a jury found Depp guilty of domestic abuse and forced him to pay $7 million to Amber Heard (which she then donated, in its entirety, to charity), is Depp really even worth defending?

Is the man who played Captain Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands, and Willy Wonka actually a “pure talent” that will be a credit to the “Fantastic Beasts” series as a whole?

Not based on his recent movie history, he’s not.

There’s no denying that, at the height of his career, Johnny Depp was a force to be reckoned with. Often accompanied by Tim Burton, Depp created several iconic characters that remain popular to this day.

Recently, though, Depp’s movies have somewhat lost their flavor.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”, “Mordecai”, “Dark Shadows”, and “The Lone Ranger” have all been critical and commercial disasters.

It’s only in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Murder on the Orient Express”, where Depp plays a minor part of a more noteworthy ensemble cast, that the actor’s films have actually succeeded.

Audiences don’t have the same relationship to Depp now as they did a decade ago. Nobody wants to go see “The Latest Johnny Depp Movie” solely because of his inclusion.

Source: Lionsgate

If anything, the inclusion of Depp makes a film seem like an eye-rolling waste of time (which is why you probably haven’t seen “Mordecai”, and if you have, you’ve already forgotten 90% of the plot).

Depp isn’t worth defending as a “talent” that is going to somehow elevate the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise.

Evidence of this can be seen from his brief appearance in “Where to Find Them”, in which he mumbles his way through his lines, looks tired, and leaves everyone feeling uncomfortable and deflated.

(It doesn’t help that, spoiler alert, Grindelwald turns up at the worst possible moment in the film in order to kill all dramatic tension and retroactively ruin one of the film’s more compelling characters.)

For this reason, giving Depp a large role in “The Crimes of Grindelwald” isn’t going to turn out all that great for the movie as a whole – even those people who aren’t so appalled and disgusted by his domestic abuse record that they boycott the film on principle, are going to be underwhelmed and bored by his performance.

Heck, many people won’t bother turning up to see this at all, just because it’s yet another dark, kooky Johnny Depp movie. We’ve all got a backlog of four of five such films that we haven’t bothered to watch yet.

Director Ridley Scott has proven that if an actor is problematic enough, it’s never too late to rip them out of a movie and replace them with someone better suited to making a more enjoyable experience for audiences.

Johnny Depp as Tonto
Source: Disney

The fact that JK Rowling is so opposed to getting rid of Depp is deeply disappointing, not just because it involves heaping praise upon a man with a record of violence towards his family, but also because Johnny Depp’s so-called “talent” has long-since dried up, and he’s likely to make the movie far worse for his inclusion in a major role.

Some of us are boycotting “The Crimes of Grindelwald” because one of its key actors deserves some form of lasting consequence for his actions.

If you’re not one of those people, then at least bear in mind: Johnny Depp is not an inconsequential part of the movie. His inclusion in “Fantastic Beasts” the First genuinely weakens the film, and the fact that he’ll have a larger role in the sequel will only serve to make the movie less enjoyable.

Domestic abusers should not be let off the hook for their actions, under any circumstance.

Pretending that Depp is somehow above reproach because he’s such a good actor is ridiculous, not just because it absolves him of his crimes, but because it’s not even possible to argue that he’s a worthwhile actor any more to begin with.

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