Gellert Grindelwald, the greatest dark wizard of all time before Voldemort rolled onto the scene, is expectedly a large focus in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. As the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, long-suffering Harry Potter fans can expect another magical romp through the wizarding world and further exploration of its history.
The problem for some Potter fans, though, is Grindelwald himself, Johnny Depp.
News of Depp’s being cast as the dark wizard and former friend of Albus Dumbledore himself broke in November 2016, raising a lot of eyebrows. Depp, best known for such iconic roles as Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, and Captain Jack Sparrow of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, is a controversial figure at best. His reputation has been tarnished in recent years by his own underhanded jokes and, most importantly, allegations of domestic assault against his now ex-wife Amber Heard.
Heard, who filed a domestic assault charge against Depp in May 2016, was granted a temporary restraining order against Depp at the time and filed for divorce.
“During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me… Johnny ripped the cell phone from my hand and began screaming profanities and insults at iO [the friend],” Heard wrote in a court statement obtained by People. “I heard iO yell at me to get out of the house. Johnny then grabbed the cellphone, wound up his arm like a baseball pitcher and threw the cellphone at me striking my cheek and eye with great force.”
Investigators found no proof of a crime at the time.
As of August 2016, Heard had settled both her divorce and abuse case against Depp. Heard withdrew her request for a permanent domestic violence restraining order and accepted a $7 million divorce settlement.
The situation was further complicated in June 2017, though, when court documents obtained by People detailed that one of Depp’s former business managers, Joel Mandel, “was informed well after the fact through communications with various house staff and security that Depp had been extremely volatile and had sometimes ‘gotten physical’ with Heard.”
The documents, part of a larger lawsuit between Depp and Mandel’s The Management Group, detailed that Depp — who’d originally denied allegations of abuse — had tried to cover up at least one occasion of abuse. The court documents also detailed an incident “in or around 2014” in which “Depp had violently kicked Heard,” offering up testimony from further witnesses.
Due to Heard’s allegations, Potter fans were understandably concerned at Depp’s casting, taking to Twitter to ask Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling why she would permit Depp’s involvement with the franchise. At the time, Rowling said she was “delighted” by Depp portraying Grindelwald. And seeing as Depp is still involved in the film’s sequel, even taking a front-and-center role as the titular character, that sentiment doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will premiere in theaters on November 16, 2017.