Johnny Depp’s role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise has garnered controversy since it was first revealed, despite support from director David Yates, Warner Bros., and J.K. Rowling.
Daniel Radcliffe has worked with Yates on four Harry Potter films (which were produced by Warner Bros.) and has known Rowling for years. Radcliffe doesn’t appear to be associated with the Fantastic Beasts franchise, but during the Television Critics Association press tour he was asked his thoughts on Depp’s casting. Since November 2016, many fans have objected to after Depp’s ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, said that Depp abused her during their divorce. The controversy continued as Yates, Rowling, and Warner Bros. publicly supported Depp. (Depp and Heard eventually settled, with both Heard and Depp saying that neither of them lied for financial gain.)
“It’s a very hard thing for me,” Radcliffe told Entertainment Weekly, who added that the producers of the Fantastic Beasts franchise were partially responsible for launching his career as an actor.
As much appreciation as Radcliffe has for the producers, he also offered a poignant perspective as he drew a comparison of Depp’s continued casting to the hypocrisy of the NFL’s domestic violence problem as well as his former Harry Potter co-star Jamie Waylett, who was written out of the final Harry Potter films after he was arrested for growing weed in 2009.
“I can see why people are frustrated with the response that they were given from that … I’m not saying anything that anybody hasn’t already said—and this is a weird analogy to draw—[but] in the NFL, there are lots of players arrested for smoking weed and there is other people’s behavior that goes way beyond that and it’s tolerated because they’re very famous players,” Radcliffe added. “I suppose the thing I was struck by was, we did have a guy who was reprimanded for weed on the [original Potter] film, essentially, so obviously what Johnny has been accused of is much greater than that.”
The statements supporting Depp referred to previous allegations of domestic violence, but Warner Bros., Rowling, and Yates, cited Depp and Heard’s divorce settlement and statement and their own knowledge of events as to why Depp would still be part of the film.
“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,” Rowling said last month.