Fantastic Beasts Director Defends Johnny

David Yates describes Amber Heard as taking a “pop” at Johnny Depp.

When Johnny Depp was first announced as the actor chosen to play villainous Gellert Grindelwald in the new Harry Potter franchise Fantastic Beasts, director David Yates was the very first person to defend the decision. Even as he revealed the news during a 2016 press junket, Yates said, in seeming reference to either Johnny’s highly publicized and nasty split from actress Amber Heard, or mixed reviews of his recent work:

“In this business, it’s a weird old business. You’re brilliant one week, people are saying odd things the next, you go up and down. But no one takes away your pure talent.”

Discontent over Johnny’s casting has only grown among the Potter fandom since the first movie was released—especially since his character was name-checked in the title of its sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Now, Yates is doubling down on his defense of Depp and tackling the Heard divorce head on.

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First Look of Johnny as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 2 Photo

With the release of the first cast photo from the next Fantastic Beasts movie, it’s official: Johnny Depp will return as Gellert Grindelwald, the fiend and former love interest-turned-rival to Jude Law’s Albus Dumbledore. What’s more, Johnny’s character has been upgraded to title-worthy villain; W.B. also revealed today that the second film in J.K. Rowling’s second Harry Potter universe series will be subtitled The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Johnny Confirmed as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 2

Johnny Confirmed as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 2

When news broke that Johnny was set to “co-star” in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2, the sequel to this mont’s wizarding world expansion Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, speculation immediately zeroed in on who Johnny might play. Given that Gellert Grindelwald, former friend of Albus Dumbledore, supposedly has a major role to play in this new Fantastic Beasts franchise, folks began wondering if Depp might be bringing the dark wizard to life. Well, yes, it’s true: Johnny Depp is playing Gellert Grindelwald.

The news was confirmed by director David Yates himself, who directed the final four Harry Potter films as well as Fantastic Beasts and is returning for the sequel. In speaking with The Leaky Cauldron, he revealed why they chose Johnny to fill such a pivotal role:

“The whole principal of casting the movie was go with the best actor. Go for the most inspired, interesting, right fit for that character. And as we approached Grindelwald we thought, ‘Who’s going to take this in an interesting direction?’ In this business, it’s a weird old business. You’re brilliant one week, people are saying odd things the next, you go up and down. But no one takes away your pure talent. Johnny Depp is a real artist. He’s created several characters who have really resonated in our popular culture. He’s a really brilliant, brilliant actor. We were excited about seeing what he would do with this guy, the character. He’s fearless; he’s imaginative; he’s ambitious. We thought he would do something fun and special. So we went for him, purely on that selfish basis. We don’t care if he’s famous or not famous. We just know he’s interesting.”

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Johnny to Star in Harry Potter Sequel

Great news to all the Harty Potter fans among us (which includes me!). It’s officially been confirmed that Johnny will be featured in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The second movie will be released in 2018 and directed by David Yates with Eddie Redmayne returning as Newt Scamander.

No further details have been revealed about Johnny’s role except that it’a going to be a co-starring one.

Stay tuned for more information! By they way, I’m super excited about those news since I’ve been a huge Harry Potter since the first book. Now my favorite actor is going to take part in my favorite book saga.