Harry Potter author JK Rowling has defended her decision to keep Johnny Depp in the role of Grindelwald for the Fantastic Beasts And Where To FindThem sequel after a backlash from fans unhappy about the circumstances of the actor’s recent divorce.
A number of fans had voiced their concern that Depp was to appear in the forthcoming film after he was accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife Amber Heard last year.
In statement on her personal website Rowling said that those stories "deeply concerned" her at the time, however she added that the circumstances of Depp’s divorce from Heard last year were private and should be respected.
She wrote: "When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he'd be wonderful in the role.
"However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise.
"Harry Potter fans had legitimate questions and concerns about our choice to continue with Johnny Depp in the role. As David Yates, long-time Potter director, has already said, we naturally considered the possibility of recasting."
She said she understands why "some have been confused and angry" that Depp was not recast, and that not being able to speak openly with fans about the issues "has been difficult, frustrating and at times painful.
Rowling continued: "However, the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected.
"Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies."
She continued: "I've loved writing the first two screenplays and I can't wait for fans to see The Crimes Of Grindelwald.
"I accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role. However, conscience isn't governable by committee."
Rowling concluded: "Within the fictional world and outside it, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing."
Warner Bros issued a statement in support of the decision to keep Depp in the film. Director David Yates and producer David Heyman also said in a joint statement that while recognising "the magnitude of the issues raised" they stood by the decision to cast Depp.
Depp’s marriage to Heard ended in divorce amid Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse.
After reaching a private settlement in August 2016, the couple issued a joint statement saying their relationship was "intensely passionate and at times volatile but always bound by love," and that there was "never any intent of physical or emotional harm".