The casting of Johnny Depp as the big villain of the Fantastic Beasts franchise has been causing consternation from some Harry Potter fans, due to the ongoing allegations of domestic abuse leveled against Depp by his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard. Director David Yates has now spoken about the issue directly after it bubbled up again thanks to the movie’s official cast and title reveal, defending Depp in the most awful way possible.
Yates first discussed the controversial casting choice when Depp made his surprise debut as Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald during the climax of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them last year. He asked fans (via GetSurrey) to wait and see Depp’s full performance before they get angry that an alleged abuser is playing the film saga’s primary antagonist:
You have to trust us and see what he does in this movie. You won’t see very much in this movie because he appears in it very fleetingly. He appears much more in the second movie. What you have to remember about Johnny is that extraordinary talent and that talent never goes away.
Obviously, Yates’ first response is both dumb and horrible, because of the incredibly obvious fact that no one should get a pass for being an abuser because they make good movies, period. But Yates has made a new statement to Entertainment Weekly defending his star in response to the latest swell of anger at Depp’s casting, and it’s truly heinous. Because Yates’ latest comment is to essentially cast aspersions on Heard’s allegations, full stop:
Honestly, there’s an issue at the moment where there’s a lot of people being accused of things, they’re being accused by multiple victims, and it’s compelling and frightening. With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something. I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see. Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.
Everything here is horrible. Indirectly calling the victim a liar? Check. Implying that unless multiple victims step forward the abuse isn’t worth examining? Check. Assuming that because Yates has not personally seen Depp abuse someone that he couldn’t possibly have ever done anything bad? Big check. These are all awful, incorrect messages for the director of a beloved children’s movie franchise with millions of fans to send out.
As if the grave Yates had proudly dug for himself wasn’t deep enough already, he continued with this classic apologist claim:
By testament, some of the women in [Depp’s] life have said the same thing—‘that’s not the human being we know.’ It’s very different [than cases] where there are multiple accusers over many years that need to be examined and we need to reflect on our industry that allows that to roll on year in and year out. Johnny isn’t in that category in any shape or form. So to me, it doesn’t bear any more analysis. It’s a dead issue.
So the fact that every single woman in Depp’s life hasn’t accused him of abuse makes Amber Heard’s allegations a “dead issue”? This is, obviously, ludicrous and completely horrible. It’s not just throwing shit in Heard’s face, it’s doing the same to any victim of abuse, because it’s a clear message to them that unless they have multiple witnesses and additional victims, they shouldn’t bother to speak out.
Although Depp has denied Heard’s accusations, and the former couple settled their divorce proceedings releasing a joint statement that read in part, “Neither party has made false accusations for financial gains,” fresh allegations of Depp’s acts of domestic violence have continued to emerge this year. For Yates to fervently dismiss them simply for the sake of Fantastic Beasts wanting to avoid an uncomfortable conversation about one of its major stars (too late!) is just shamefully wrong. In the wake of explosive revelations about the pervasive existence of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood in recent months, Yates’ latest statement is disgusting, and another depressing example of what studios will excuse for the sake of box office numbers.