The Harry Potter franchise was a huge part of my life, probably more so than most kids in my generation. Hogwarts and the wizarding world provided a safe haven for me in my darkest days; the characters in those books became my best friends. So when it all ended a few years ago, it felt like I was saying goodbye to my family for the last time. You can imagine my excitement when I heard Fantastic Beasts was receiving a trilogy of its own, and that JK Rowling herself would be writing the screenplays. I knew then that the franchise would be heading in the right direction. I was not let down. The first film last year completely blew away my initial expectations and got me very excited to see how the rest of the story would play out. It felt like I was coming home after years of being away.
That was until the recent events of cast member Johnny Depp that cast a giant shadow on the new film trilogy. Depp was chosen to play the big bad wizard that paved the way for the likes of Lord Voldemort, Gellert Grindelwald, the evil wizard that plagued a time before Harry was even born. Over the past couple of months, Depp has been in and out of the tabloids after his physical assault on ex-wife Amber Heard. Depp has faced no consequences for his abuse and toxic behavior. He has continued to receive role after role, and people continue to work with him.
It’s not like Heard is blowing smoke in our faces. Around the time of the incident, she made sure to get video evidence of Depp in one of his outbursts. We saw an angry Depp screaming and lashing out at Heard. Amber was afraid to be in her own home, and it was only a matter of time before the truth got out to the rest of the world. But when it finally did, it seems like no one but Heard had suffered any damage. While Depp seems to have done nothing but flourish, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for Heard to go through something like that; Not only the physical, but the emotional imprint that leaves on someone must be hard to get through.
A little under a month ago the first teaser for FB2 was released to the fanbase. Everyone was so excited to see the entire cast for the second film and to have something to look forward to, but one thing came to a surprise to all of us: the fact that Depp’s role wasn’t recast. The fact that he was involved in a domestic abuse case and he wasn’t removed from the film shook the Harry Potter community down to its roots. The entire community took to social media to get the answer, but everyone was silent. That is, until director David Yates finally broke the silence and gave his two cents in a recent interview, but it wasn’t anything positive.
Yates defended keeping Depp onboard and basically said that he is nothing but a good man. He also stated that since none of Depp’s previous lovers have not reported any history of physical abuse, that must mean Heard was lying. Yates considers it to be “a dead issue”. Of course, his words sparked a huge reaction from the wizarding community, so they went to one person that they knew would lead them in the right direction: Ms. Rowling herself. Rowling has been silent while all of this had been going on. Fans just wanted to know if she shared Yates’s position.
But before we could get any answers from her, she began blocking fans on Twitter for asking about Depp. While that is equally shocking and disappointing, we don’t really know what her reasoning was. Perhaps she was overwhelmed, or maybe she just doesn’t want to comment on it right now. But as a die-hard fan of the series, along with her being the reason why I became a writer, I was very disappointed to find out that she decided to take that route and keep her silence that way.
Abuse of any kind is something that should be taken lightly. Even if it is just an allegation, matters like this are becoming too frequent, and women like Amber Heard continue to be kept silent and are not taken seriously. Your gender should not grant you power or advantage over another person, and neither should your social standing; every single person in this world should be held accountable for this actions, even public figures like Johnny Depp.
So many kids and even adults now have turned to this franchise as a way to escape from their real-world problems. Some of those problems involving abuse as well. Recently, the wizarding world hasn’t felt like a safe haven, which is exactly why FB2 might actually fail before it starts. It is going to be hard for fans to support the film when they know that Depp may not be removed.
A lot can happen between now and November 18, 2018. Perhaps Depp will be removed and his role recast, causing the release date to be pushed back for reshoots. But the likelihood of that happening is slim, given how the situation has played out, and that is a very sad thing to realize.