A Business Case for Dropping Johnny Depp From ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’

TV and Movies

Image of Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in 'Crimes of Grindelwald'
J.K. Rowling is a known social justice warrior. Not only have her books touted lessons that have taught a generation of kids to be better people (according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology), but her active role on Twitter tends to involve calling out hypocrisy, injustice, and other wrongdoings by those in power. She has been incredibly, admirably charitable, and her speeches have been inspirational. Indeed, J.K. Rowling has established herself as a brand that inspires youngsters with the message that anything is possible if you try hard enough, and that being and doing good can go hand in hand with success. Which is why Johnny Depp ought to be ousted from The Crimes of Grindelwald.

I understand that replacing Johnny Depp in a movie where he is the title character is an expensive proposition. I understand that Johnny Depp is a highly talented actor that likely earned his role because of the quality of characterization he could bring into the highly successful franchise. However. The franchise—the entire J.K. Rowling universe—is built on a moral foundation. Choosing good over evil is the deep-seated message throughout every book, movie, screenplay, and script. Yes, Rowling allowed for degrees of good: Sirius Black was the non-Dark white sheep of a wizard in his otherwise Voldemort-leaning family, but was cruel to Kreacher; Snape was… Snape; and even Dumbledore, the greatest wizard, had hidden the truth from Harry as he led him to his inevitable showdown. Even Harry goes through a dark period when he mistrusts his friends, behaves badly, but remains ultimately inherently good.

But that’s fiction. These are lines that are necessarily blurry, and the power of fiction is that it allows characters to be complex, and for readers to “choose sides” and then be presented with the “right” answer. The Harry Potter series is full of moral messages, showing readers how to treat marginalized people with compassion, understanding, and inclusion.

So that brings us to Johnny Depp. This article talks about how Depp’s domestic abuse allegations are being swept under the table, whereas he publicly apologized for a tasteless assassination joke.

Now, I’m not arguing that the joke was no big deal, or that there’s even any room for comparison, as if we are forced to make a choice. It’s perfectly okay for you to be outraged by both. It’s fine to dismiss the joke as harmless because they’re just words, whereas domestic abuse has greater, more sinister implications. You can even decide to withhold judgment about the abuse because “there’s no proof” (except that there is). You are free to hold whatever opinion you like of Johnny Depp.

However. J.K. Rowling’s entire business model is built on a foundation of morality. And the consumers of her products, being raised to be “better people,” have been taught—by her in many cases—that we must treat others kindly. Lucius Malfoy was obviously evil because he mistreated Dobby (well, that and because he was a Death Eater). And however much Harry loved Sirius, he was not to overlook the fact that he was downright cruel to Kreacher.

As Dumbledore reminds Harry, we are responsible for our actions, and we must be held accountable for them. By that same logic, it seems highly inappropriate to overlook disturbing allegations about Johnny Depp. Because while he may be a talented actor, a movie exploring the crimes of a dangerous yet talented wizard may seem a little too surreal.

Part of the problem, of course, is that we know nothing of the story. All we have for now are hints and speculation, and we Potterheads have been anxiously awaiting the movie for the fulfillment of our curiosities’ desires. Only, without any concrete plot information, and only a few crumbs offered to pique our interest, we can focus only on the cast.

Sadly, by casting Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, and making this a means to financially benefit him, watching The Crimes of Grindelwald starring Johnny Depp becomes a moral decision. And for the large audience whose morality has been shaped by J.K. Rowling’s stories, that seems a risky business decision by the powers that be.

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15 thoughts on “A Business Case for Dropping Johnny Depp From ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’

  1. This is a slanderous allegation considering that this was a trial by media and all charges were dropped WITH prejudice by the accuser. Therefore it has never been proven that Johnny Depp abused his then wife. His ex wife however has shown herself to be an ambitious ruthless grifter who will go to varied dishonest lengths to achieve what she requires. There are sadly a lot of people out to sabotage a mans career based on hearsay.

    1. One, it is not slander, by definition. Libel is a written defamatory statement, and slander is a spoken or oral defamatory statement. (Aside: as Depp is a public figure, the standard for libel in the U.S. is quite high.)

      Two, you go on to make your own unproven statements about another person, so that’s hardly consistent.

    2. Also, it should be noted that Amber Heard is the only one of the two that has a record of domestic violence. Also to be noted, amongst all recent charges lately in the media, there is a common thread, when there is one charge, there are more that come out of the woodwork… In Depp’s case, all previous significant others have come out to his defense and could not believe the allegations.

  2. I agree with the above poster. It is out of order to demand that an actor be recast based on an allegation rather than an admittance. A questionably edited video of a man in his own home having a temper tantrum with a few cupboards trying to ignore his devious wife’s provocation is all I saw.

      1. I would state that covertly filming someone sans person’s knowledge is rather devious. But that’s just me!

  3. Why is it so difficult to say “Wow, we will never know if those allegations are true, but his history shows us this is not his normal behavior. I hope it is either not true, or he gets treated because clearly this is out of character, if it is true?”

    I’m really sad that you are paid as a writer who perpetuates this inabilty to take a step back and see things for what they are. The absolute truth is that every single person views a story from his or her own perspective and they operate as if that were the truth. The reality is that things are often not black and white, and we need more journalists who can bring that to light. We have enough emotionally charged, one sided journalists! Please go forth and do better. You owe it to the world.

  4. People shouldn’t be so judgemental. Johnny should be able to keep his role!! I am so tired of people throwing judgement on him! Yes he is a good actor. But he is also human!! Everyone has a past they try to move away from! This isn’t an opinion. It is a fact!!! I love and support him!!

  5. I absolutely agree with the above comments! What I am outraged about in all of this is certainly not the casting of Johnny Depp, but the fact that he gets portrayed as an abuser by the media and people reading and believing the stories without even bothering to think if the allegations are true!

    Having read all I could find about these accusations, I have noticed that there is absolutely no proof that Johnny’s ex-wife’s allegations of abuse are true! In fact, when she called the police after he allegedly threw the phone in her face, the officers said there was no evidence of any abuse and Amber Heard later also dropped these allegations!!!! — Why don’t you media people write about that???

    It is completely unfair to accuse Johnny Depp of the same behaviour as Weinstein or Spacey and others! The accuser in his case is not someone unconnected to him personally. Isn’t it at least possible that his then-wife wanted to make him the bad guy, so that she could blackmail him for money? Is that a thing unheard of? I don’t think so! It is a totally different scenario than the – perhaps – “real” cases of abuse that have recently come out!

    I sincerely hope that Warner Bros. and JK Rowling know better and stand by Johnny Depp because he does not deserve all this hate that is thrown at him!!!!

  6. I think it is substandard to believe these allegations, especially for the fans of this series. The case is, just like the author of this article has mentiond, Harry Potter gives numerous lessons to the reader abut equality, bravery, honesty, and being there for others and that’s just to name a few, but now they’re flipping sides by completely disregarding the fact that the woman in this relationship as an actual abusive past and does not fail to put up with the hate she’s getting, obviously Depp does not have an abusive past and there’s proof but the thing is that since the day they got married she had been provoking him. She’s a bad person, he isn’t a saint but allegations are allegations ans the truth is the truth. Morals of a person decide which is which.

  7. Again, many of you posting in support of Johnny Depp have already read pre-judgments of your own. Amber Heard has been called “devious,” “abusive,” “provoking,” and of blackmail. If you’re pointing out that we have not enough information to know about these allegations, then you don’t have enough information to accuse Amber Heard of anything either.

    1. The ‘abusive’ tag was likely attached to her due to her having been previously arrested for fighting with her partner as documented. ‘Devious’ possibly because of her seemingly underhand tactics to obtain video evidence of her husband in emotional discord. ‘Provoking’ as she was encouraging him to react when he was trying to get on with whatever it was he was venting about that had occurred during the illicit recording. I will not address the ‘blackmailing’ as that is conjecture.

  8. People seriously need to stop hating o him. He is probably the best actor ever. There is no proof that he hit his wife with an iPhone. Also a video was uploaded on youtube saying that Depp smacked a glass on Amber face but there was no proof as the video didn’t show him actually throwing it and hitting her face he was just arguing nothing else.

  9. Johnny Depp has an interesting past. Not sure why he is the darling of Hollywood.


    Anthony Fox was in the process of suing five people, including Johnny Depp, over financial problems at his business, a West Hollywood, California nightclub called The Viper Room.

    Depp was one of the defendants in Fox’s lawsuits. Fox had accused Depp of defrauding him of millions of dollars in profits.

    Fox went missing before the lawsuits could be brought to any conclusion.

    In 2004, Depp turned over his share in the nightclub to Fox’s daughter, who resold it.

    His case remains unsolved.

  10. The amount of misogyny in the comments is outstanding. Everyone is willing and delighted to hate on a woman if she even utters a bad word against their “idols”. People’s cruelty is always a surprise to me, no matter how common it actually is.
    About the article, I 100% agree. It’s hard to believe in a person’s moral values when they support abusers, it seems pure hypocrisy from Rowling, honestly. Especially after the scandal about her racist additions to the HP world before the first Fantastic Beasts movie came out. I’ve been a fan of Harry Potter since i was 10, and I’ll probably always be, but that doesn’t mean i can’t see where and how it is terribly problematic. Adding Depp, for example, has made these movies a hard pass for me.

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