After a controversial year for Johnny Depp, many Harry Potter fans are outraged at his new role of Grindelwald, prompting the question, does an actor’s career deserve to be affected by their personal life?
Reporter: Hannah Grafton | Sub-Editor: Andrew Whiteford
Grindelwald probably isn’t a name you’re particularly familiar with unless you’re a fan of the Harry Potter franchise. Johnny Depp, on the other hand, is a name that nearly all of us are familiar with. On Wednesday, it was announced that Johnny Depp will almost definitely be playing the character of Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Known for his outlandish personality and plethora of extraordinary roles, Johnny Depp has been on of the most recognisable and in-demand actors in Hollywood since the early 1990s. His starring roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland series’, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Edward Scissorhands, to name a few, have garnered him worldwide fame and legions of fans. His friendship with director Tim Burton has allowed him to play a cast of unconventional and bizarre characters, but recent box office flops such as Rango and Mortdecai, and a host of personal issues this year has lead to disillusion within his fanbase.
Back in April, Depp and his wife Amber Heard pleaded guilty in Australia for illegally keeping their two Yorkshire terriers there. Dubbed the ‘war on terrier’, it came to a bizarre end after Depp and Heard released an unusual video of themselves praising Australia’s “unique plants, animals and people” and stating “If you disrespect Australian law, they will tell you firmly”. Mockery or not, this strange turn of events spawned a campaign of memes about Depp and his odd behaviour.
In May, Heard filed for divorce, five days before obtaining a temporary restraining order from Depp, stating “during the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me”. Depp’s lawyers claimed that Heard was making false accusations to secure financial compensation, but after pictures surfaced of her bruised face after being hit by a mobile phone, the public and social media rallied behind her. The divorce was settled in August, and Heard donated the entirety of her proceeds to charity.
After these events tainted Depp’s reputation, his remaining fans were left wondering whether his career too would suffer. It came as no surprise then, that after the announcement of his involvement in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, social media was inundated with messages of excitement and anticipation.
Johnny Depp as Gellert Grinderwald? Hell yes! #ALDUB68thWeeksary
— Juliet Capulet (@curiousambivert) November 3, 2016
However, fans of the Harry Potter series were not so impressed. Many did not want an actor with a tarnished reputation to ruin their beloved franchise, and Twitter users were left doubtful that he will be faithful to the character of Grindelwald, who once broke the heart of Dumbledore himself.
Things wrong with Johnny Depp as Grindelwald:
– he’s Johnny Depp
– grindelwald is British and gay??
– johnny depp
— fantastic! ellie (@hugvvarts) November 3, 2016
I’m livid about the Johnny Depp casting. It’s revealed that you attacked and abused your wife and then you get this? No. Absolutely not.
— Rosianna Halse Rojas (@papertimelady) November 2, 2016
As fans are split over the casting decision, we’re left wondering, should his personal life affect his career?
Adele Britnell, who has experience in casting and producing short and student films believes so: “If I was producing the number one thing you want is for everything to go smoothly, so if something is going to affect it, from someone’s personal life or their behaviour, then I don’t think I would [work with them]”. She explained: “It depends how good there were as an actor, you have to obviously consider everything but it would definitely be on my mind”.
Malgorzata Stanaszek, who also has experience on set and casting, argues that it’s the character that matters and sometimes a violent personality could even be a positive. “With actors you shouldn’t judge them…that’s their job, they should be able to play any role”. “If I wanted [an actor] to play a villain, then maybe I would like it because then I’d know that he has fire”.
Adele adds: “At the end of the day all they want is the money so if they knew that it was affecting his career and people weren’t going to see the film because of it, then they wouldn’t do it.”
Harry Potter fan Leah Kemp explains that social media outcry has less to do with Depp’s personal life and more to do with their loyalty to the harry Potter series and characters. “I just have a different image of Grindelwald in my head…but that’s only based on the chapter he’s in with Dumbledore in the normal books. I just didn’t picture him to be good looking, and I also would have thought he would have been younger that Johnny Depp.”
“This is just me jumping to conclusions… I could watch the film and think he was perfect for the role.” “But his personal life doesn’t phase me with regards to the casting.”
— kelsey darragh (@kelseydarragh) November 2, 2016
It’s clear that this decision won’t affect the ratings of the film and the hype that it deserves. Johnny Depp’s acting abilities have been proven by his vast and successful roles, but it’s undeniable that many people are disillusioned with him and his image after this rocky year. Good or bad, his involvement has brought more attention to the film and whether he deserves the money and attention or not, he’s guaranteed to receive it.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is in cinemas on November 18.