Most of the pieces I do for this blog are pieces about my personal life, my writings, and things I’m generally fangirly about. But with this piece, I hope to go a bit deeper than the usual fare to deliver you some musings on a topic I feel really strongly about, which relates to a certain franchise about certain beasts that may or may not be fantastic.
With the news dropping recently about the title of the Fantastic Beasts sequel, fans have an exciting number of things to talk about. The first image of the cast was released, accompanied by a photo showing several beloved faces from the first film (#TeamNewtina & #TeamJacquennie), and introduces several new characters that so far, we’ve only speculated about. (DUMBLEDORE’S GOT ME SHOOK) Fan reactions are running the gamut from severely fangirling to feeling completely underwhelmed. We really went in on our feelings in the most recent episode of the podcast I co-produce, SpeakBeasty. But there is one reaction that just keeps popping up, and its one I happen to agree with…
It hasn’t even been a month since Kevin Spacey was dropped from Ridley Scott’s film (which comes out next month by the way) due to accusations from Anthony Rapp and many others. Harvey Weinstein’s company is in shambles following the ever-growing list of allegations against him. The #MeToo movement is still very fresh on everyone’s mind. So one has to wonder how in the hell a film written by J.K. Rowling—a woman who has always stood for justice and equality—can possibly still be alright with featuring Depp in this role.
As the tweet above points out, the fact that the film itself is called The Crimes of Grindelwald and stars a known abuser just feels like some alternate universe joke that you didn’t think could be possible. Yet this is our reality. We’re exactly one year out from release, with the film still in production. But here we are, featuring this man’s character in the title of the film, and prominently in the promo poster. It is unreal, upsetting, and in my opinion, unacceptable.
Johnny Depp has starred in many films I’ve loved and enjoyed. He used to be one of my favorite actors. He has proven to be an incredibly talented and versatile actor. I can’t deny that. But how can I, and the entire WB team it seems, sit back and forget about the circumstances that surrounded his divorce with Amber Heard? Yes, she settled and withdrew her case, but she then used her settlement amount and donated it entirely (all $7 million of it) to charities supporting abused women and a children’s hospital. Some have argued she falsified these claims just for the money and to tear him down, but that argument goes out the window when you realize she didn’t keep a dime of the settlement, and his career is going just fine.
Domestic abuse is ignored, despite the unbelievable frequency with which it occurs. We cannot as a society condemn sexual assault as vehemently as we are right now while turning a blind eye to domestic violence. They are both plagues of our society. They both are inexcusable.
Harry Potter, and by extension, Fantastic Beasts, is a guiding light in the lives of so many people. It is a beacon in the darkness. It is a story we connect with and which has taught us to treat others with kindness, and that the weapon we have is love. For a franchise with such a beautiful foundation, it feels wrong to build upon it with a star who has shown himself to be antithetical to everything it stands for.
Jo shouldn’t stand for it. Harry and Newt certainly wouldn’t stand for it. So why should we?
So if Christopher Plummer can get to a studio and make reshoots happen for All the Money in the World mere weeks before it drops into theaters, there is no reason that Grindelwald’s sequences could not be reshot with a new actor before the film’s release. It would ease the pain of the many survivors of domestic abuse who are fans of the series, and frankly, I think it would send a bold statement to Hollywood and the world that just because you’re famous, you can’t get away with abusing someone.
And while Jo and others may joke that they don’t cast movies, as the film’s writer and producer, I believe she holds enough influence that she could make something like this happen. She has always used the power of her words to do what’s right. It is my hope that she uses that power to do the right thing once more and condemn this sort of violence.