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Fantastic Beasts Director David Yates Defends Casting of Not-So-Fantastic Beast Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp at the premiere of Murder on the Orient Express, another film that his alleged abuse did not prevent him from participating in.

John Phillips/Getty Images

Veteran Harry Potter director David Yates has finally spoken out about the frustrating inclusion of alleged domestic abuser Johnny Depp in the franchise’s Fantastic Beasts spin-offs, saying that Depp isn’t like those other bad men.

Depp—who doesn’t appear to have had much trouble landing in roles in the wake of public allegations of physical and emotional abuse by ex-wife Amber Heard—is set to return in the title role of the prequel-sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, much to many Potter fans’ (and former Depp fans’) disgust. (Depp has denied the allegations, and in a joint statement after their divorce, Depp and Heard said “there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”) Depp made a brief cameo as Dumbledore’s former friend, crush, and nemesis at the end of the first Fantastic Beasts installment, when it was revealed that Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves, the Director of Magical Security, was actually the original dark wizard/domestic abuser all along. Filming had already wrapped up Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them when accusations against Depp broke, but Warner Bros. had plentiful time to replace the actor before the sequel.

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Yates took time out from directing the film in London to defend the Depp’s involvement to Entertainment Weekly, saying that man who has been accused of smashing bottles and windows, not to mention writing insults and accusations on mirrors with his own blood, has not engaged in any such behavior in front of Yates.

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.

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The existence of serial abusers with dozens of accusers shouldn’t mean we should require multiple corroborating stories before we start believing the first, but apparently Yates does. The director all but labelled Heard—who donated the entirety of her $7 million divorce settlement to charity—a liar, pointing to the public testimony of Depp’s exes, who stated that they had never been subject to the type of behavior of which he has been accused:

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.

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