Fantastic Beasts director defends Depp role despite backlash

The director of upcoming Harry Potter film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has defended Johnny Depp's role in the movie, in the wake of criticism over the actor's history of domestic violence.

"To me, it doesn't bear any more analysis. It's a dead issue," director David Yates told Entertainment Weekly about the controversy.

Outraged Potter fans threatened to boycott the film earlier this month after studio Warner Bros confirmed Depp would be reprising his role in the Fantastic Beasts sequel, despite accusations of domestic violence being levelled against the actor by former partner Amber Heard two years ago.

The claims, which included Heard saying Depp struck her during a drunken outburst (she appeared in court with a visible black eye), were dismissed after the pair reached a settlement in their divorce.

Depp, whose villainous character Gellert Grindelwald??? appeared only briefly in last year's box office hit Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will have a central role in the new film, which sees him face-off against a young Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law. The lucrative role comes as his reputation as one of Hollywood's top A-listers comes under renewed scrutiny in the wake of Hollywood's sexual harassment and assault scandals.

Director Yates sought to quash the online dissent, defending Depp as a "good, loving, caring guy".

"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," he told EW.

"With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something," he added.

"Whatever accusation was out there doesn't tally with the kind of human being I've been working with."

Yates, who's been the director of several Harry Potter projects put to the big screen since 2007's The Order of the Phoenix, noted Depp's exes, including Vanessa Paradis??? and Winona Ryder, had similarly defended him in public.

"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 them to roll on year in and year out... Johnny isn't in that category in any shape or form," he said.

Yates' defence drew further criticism on social media, with fans labelling his comments "disgusting" and "misguided".

"Well, this is an awful response from David Yates," wrote one commenter. "Apparently because Depp doesn't have multiple accusers, then Amber Heard shouldn't be believed."

"Just because someone has never hurt you, doesn't mean they've never hurt anyone. Really disappointed with David Yates," said another, adding they wished Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who penned the film, would address the issue.

Rowling, a vocal supporter of women's rights, has yet to comment on the controversy surrounding Depp's casting.

The film, currently shooting in London, is due to open in cinemas in November 2018.

Depp, who's currently appearing in Kenneth Branagh's remake of Murder on the Orient Express, has a number of films due out in the new year, including animated family flick Sherlock Gnomes.

This story Fantastic Beasts director defends Depp role despite backlash first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.