CultureCinema An Open Letter To J.K. Rowling On Casting Johnny Depp As Grindelwald

An Open Letter To J.K. Rowling On Casting Johnny Depp As Grindelwald

There seems to be cognitive dissonance between what J.K. Rowling taught us in Harry Potter and her casting of a domestic abuser in her film.

Dear J.K. Rowling,

You recently issued a statement stating your clarification as to why Johnny Depp, a man who physically and emotionally abused his wife, was cast for the role of Grindelwald. You claimed that you understood people’s apprehensions when they came to know who would play Grindelwald, and you said since the two people concerned – Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have moved on, so should we.

I grew up reading Harry Potter, much like most people my age and my perception and understanding of the world was largely shaped by the politics you articulated in the series. Though Harry Potter was very idealistic in its narration I carried those ideals to my adulthood and in the current world of BJP regime in India, Brexit and Trump and the rise of the worst kind of populism I translated Harry Potter politics to my understanding on who should be a part of Order of the Phoenix and who would be a part of Voldemort’s army. That sounds juvenile, I know. But Harry Potter’s politics was deeply ingrained in my brain, and I happen to be quite proud of that.

You have been vocal about politics in your social media, and you have largely used your influence to make this world a better place. You have always, at least almost always sided with stories of the marginalized and celebrated inclusivity. You have called Trump and his disgusting politics that largely capitalized fear on Twitter – several times. You stood by your politics even when it cost you some fans (though Harry potter is far too popular to be destabilised by some xenophobic fans on Twitter). But I am not going to pretend to know you better than you know yourself, because that is bullshit.

When you expressed your happiness in your statement about the casting of Johnny Depp my first thought was – this is very unlike you. Because you are known for preaching empathy and compassion and have actively worked towards it. The other thought was something sinister, that much like Lena Dunham you played your politics to your convenience.

Do you not know the stories of female celebrities who were abused and were made to apologize for having a problem in the first place? Post the New York times expose of the Harvey Weinstien scandal everyone is essentially forced to acknowledge that women have been trying to talk about male entitlement and sexual harassment for years, but their voices were stifled by those in power i.e. cis heterosexual men. The institutional sexism made it difficult for women to come out with their stories. This sounds banal even as I write it, so I am sure you were wary of institutional sexism and the sexism actresses endure on a daily basis. Bernando Bertolucci and Woody Allen are still working in Hollywood, and that is a testament to cis hetero-male supremacy and the kind of shit men in power can get away with. If you think the case of Johnny Depp is an exception to this, either you are ignorant, or profoundly narcissistic.

In August 2016, when Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were in the midst of their divorce settlements, Heard claimed there was never an ‘intent’ to harm, but did say the relationship even if bound by love was volatile. She had earlier accused him of being physically and emotionally abusive and there are videos and testimonies to substantiate that claim. However, people despite the evidence hurled derogatory insults towards her. They called her a ‘gold digger’ and ‘attention seeker’ who was trying to capitalize on Johnny Depp’s fame. They also said the ‘stunt’ was to further her career, without comprehending the logical fallacy of that statement.

Amber Heard had to endure physical and emotional abuse from her then husband, and then she was abused for pinning allegations against him for the same.

You are asking your fans not to treat the case of Johnny Depp along the same line as Weinstein, Spacey and Louis C.K. I am here to tell you that cannot be done.

The reason Depp gets to get away with this is because of the same reason these men had been getting away with it all these years without a blotch on their careers. Can you tell us otherwise? Can you explain and reason it differently?

In this culture of silence where we actively make it difficult to share their stories of oppression you chose to side with a man who abused his wife. When a fan called you out on Twitter and questioned you regarding the casting of Grindelwald you blocked that fan. What exactly are we to make of your politics after this supremely juvenile and arrogant move? That fan if you should know respectfully concluded from this encounter that even though she would always love Harry Potter, she couldn’t possibly extend the same courtesy to you. I do not blame her for taking that stance.

The director of your movie David Yates said in a statement the man he knows on set is “Full of decency and kindness” and the man possibly couldn’t be capable of committing something he has been accused of. This is textbook bro culture, and I think in the Post-Weinstein era we can understand how men behave with men is very different from how men behave with women. Also, there is a chance the director of your movie might be factually wrong considering Amber Heard presented evidence of the abuse. So, are we to understand that despite the factual evidence presented the director chose to not acknowledge the abuse? Do you condone that?

I cannot hold you responsible for the actions of David Yates, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hold you responsible for being complicit in the perpetuation of culture of silence.

The Harry Potter fandom cannot reconcile with a domestic abuser being glorified and not being held accountable for his actions. There seems to be cognitive dissonance from what we have learned in Harry Potter and what the casting of Depp as Grindelwald essentially implies. How do we address this cognitive dissonance? Your solution to this cognitive dissonance is that their divorce is a private matter and the matter should left at that. But men abusing women is not a private matter, its a systemic problem. Your solution does not go along the line of what action must be taken in the Post #MeToo movement.

I, personally, am not going to watch Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It was not an easy decision considering I am very fond of Eddie Redmayne and Ezra Miller, and how close this franchise is to my heart, but considering and weighing my options where I perpetuate a culture of silence by giving men a leeway or take a stand and not keep up with this shit anymore I am proud to say I chose the latter.

Your disappointed fan

Featured Image Credit: Business Insider


  1. cristian says:

    Do you not realise that it’s so painfully obvious that Amber is a gold digger? FFS She was once arrested for abuse and was put on 2 years of probation. Johnny never had such a history; I understand that we never know what happens behind closed doors, but it’s Johnny fcking Depp! He has visited hospitals for years, he has given love, kindness and respect to everyone, he has done so much for people that no other celebrity I know has done. And yet, you all think he is capable of abuse.

    If the pictures of bruises on Amber’s face were proper evidence, why didn’t she give them to the police instead of selling them to tabloids? What kind of abuse victim does that? If he really had been violent towards her, I’m positive she would’ve made sure he’d get locked up. Before all this happened, she asked him for money. He refused and then all of sudden, she cried domestic violence. She knew that she’d have a chance of getting money from that, and then she decided to divorce him, which led to more money.

    Johnny had plenty of evidence that proved he never laid a finger on her. He even had more witnesses than her; as far as I know, his children wanted to testify, but I could be wrong on that part.

    In the end, she got money from the divorce settlement only. She promised to give that money to a hospital (correct me if I’m wrong), but she never did. That hospital didn’t get a cent until Johnny gave it to them on Amber’s behalf.

    Johnny moved on and continued with his life, and Amber started dating a billionaire. She was a gold digger from the beginning, and Johnny didn’t know until it was too late.

  2. Karthika S Nair says:

    I think it is necessary for me to make a comment here.
    First of all, the number of people defending this whole thing, apart from Jo Rowling is just appalling. The defenders include men’s rights activists, Depp fans and patriarchal agents (because responsibility of abuse always comes on shoulders of the victims to these folks).
    In the above comment, the gentleman (going by the name) simply shifted the whole attack on Amber Heard’s character and this is literally what happens when women come out with their stories of abuse. People do admit that there were evidences but finding out different ways in which they could disregard it.
    There were pictures of her bruised face, videos of Depp’s drunken behaviour, including a public appearance where he misbehaved with a prominent male filmmaker while drunk, and had a similar brawl in the sets of Pirates of the Caribbean 5 after which he had to go to the rehab.

    Atacking the victim’s character is a commonly seen trend. Look at the malayalam actress who was attacked. After the incident theer have been many cooked up and false claims to attach her character and to neutralise the intensity of what was done to her.

    As I mentioned earlier, Heard submitted photos of her injured face (to the police who took the mugshot in the first place) and if he court granted her the restraining order then the evidence was overwhelming. Her fighting back was definitely her way of coming out of the relationship. When she did, the number of people supporting Depp and condemning Heard was high, including media. A lot of celebrities supported Depp as he was *nice* to them. Paul Bettany, Depp’s ex Vanessa Paradise, Stanhope etc. One of the reasons why she dropped the lawsuit is because of the overwhelming pressure from the media, personalities, and Depp fans (her instagram page should give an idea). Or we could assume that they managed to settle things up but she didn’t benefit anything from that.
    Also, calling her a gold-digger, why should she dig gold? She is a mainstream actress and a model and is earning money. And, she donated her divorce proceeding to the charity. Even if finance was her motive, does it justify Depp’s violence on her?
    And look at Yates’s comments. His refusal to believe the claims (despite the evidence) is because apparently Heard is the only accuser. Wonderful way to wash your hands.
    Personally I don’t think that Depp deserves to be scrutinised for the rest of his life. He needs rehabilitation whether the problem is drinking or violence. But defending his actions is clearly a systemic problem just like domestic violence. JK Rowling herself is a victim of domestic abuse and the HP franchise’s foundation is on the same.
    And, to those who are justifying his actions by calling Heard as a previous domestic abuser, if Depp is abused in the near future then I am sure that you will be cool if this story is brought up to justify the actions committed by the perpetrator.

    I am not a fan of Amber Heard. I was a fan of Depp’s until his role where has perpetuated institutional sexism or is part of rape culture.

  3. Fantastic Beasts supporter that's against abuse says:

    The above comment and article proved that humanity as regressed in terms of intellect . The writer of this article should consider how freedom of expression in India is being hindered with the delay over Indian movie padmavati and the fact that people in India can boycott release of a movie but not social issues of rape , child marriage, education is appalling . Similarly one should realise that nether depp not heard raised falsified allegations which means that depp may or may not have assaulted heard and heard may or may not have planned the entire situation since its proven that she is a gold digger . Victim shaming only exists when the person being shamed is a victim and I see no victims . I only see circumstance . Has a potter fan I will watch fantastic beasts and I urge people to reconsider their stance on this issue. A movie of all things shouldn’t have to suffer . Remember if depp is facing trial and judgement by mass media revolounists then Josh brolin and Amber heard must also face trial as well since both have their reputations tarnished by suspected abuse allegations . Feminism preaches equality and as a person who shares a progressive outlook regarding both genders , a woman can be equally has insidious as a man . Their is no barrier on abuse . Preaching equality isn’t good enough – these are just words and in order for a difference to be made words need to become actions otherwise they remain words . Padmavati and fantastic beasts shouldn’t have to suffer because some people lack development in progressive attitudes and beliefs .

    • Karthika says:

      The above comment by “fantastic beasts against abuse” (what an irony) is another example of typical ignorance and misogyny expressed by someone, masquerading under human rights issues.
      //I see no victims// the photos and witness statements issued online prove otherwise unless you are “choosing not to see the victim” or as just as ignorant as the fans. Calling Amber Heard a gold digger is easier than calling Johnny Depp out for proven domestic abuse.
      Boycotting child marriage/rape/misogyny cannot be done as long as rich white men get away with the crimes that is clearly a systemic issue. If you don’t “systemic issue part” then it is probably because you are either too priviledged to understand or got engulfed in fanaticism.

      1. child marriage/ rape etc need not be boycotted as it is already illegal, you will find articles related to the same. That line is clear cut derailing of the coversation by deeming less irrelevant or “limitation of freedom of speech”.
      2. Padmaavat is released and is another case of glorified misogynist film which should have never been made. You want to see real golddigger look at the producers of Padmaavat and Karni Sena (who made a fool of themselves).
      3. Amber Heard donated the settlement money to the charity and Depp got the tax cut for the same. So, yeah, golddigger.

      • Sandy says:

        Hope you are reading the news now and know the reality, Miss Karthika

        • J. Mohsin says:

          Ha… But nah, the comment will be ignored now because “feminists are always perfect”, right? It’s in their nature… they’d accuse a man and screw his life over and when they get caught they’d be like oops sorry and get away with it and ignore it completely.

          The legal system needs to change and make these people accountable of their crimes and should be based on evidence gathering than taking any statement by a woman as truth at face value. When that happens that when these feminazis too will get out of their vile ways and be careful what they claim.

  4. Sat says:

    I think someone owes an apology

  5. This is soo funny right now!
    NEWS FLASH :- Heard has always been a gold digger and a proficient actor, where she took advantage and vilified the image of women as lying, deceiving and manipulative.
    to the women out there who stood for Amber Heard, do you feel like a counter argument now? or has Depp provided enough evidence to prove that he was lambasted AS A VICTIM by you?
    Everyone owes him an apology. If you dont, you are as bad, or even worse than Heard, the perpetrator.
    I rest my case.

  6. onionsack says:

    How’s that virtue-signalling and canceling people without any evidence working out for you?

  7. Karithika says:

    With the new revelations of the audio tapes showing that it was Amber who was the abuser, the gaslighter, and the spouse-beater – can the virtue signalling author and the commentator vehemently defending accusations while also calling for a man’s career be brought down without an inkling of an entire judicial process having completed please amend their statements?

    Or you know… just continue to use a medium to call for action against a person with allegations taken as fact purely because of their gender (hmmm I wonder if all of this is just an expression of ‘power’ by the author – a trait attributed to abusers)

Comments are closed.

Related Posts

Skip to content