Harry Potter has long maintained a mass of fervent, devoted followers, but reactions to J.K. Rowling's Johnny Depp statement show that even a fandom that faithful has its boundaries, and now, they've near-unanimously been crossed. After an extended period of silence, Rowling finally responded to urges to address Depp's casting in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, for which he'll reprise his role as the titular dark wizard after making a cameo in last year's Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
The decision to keep Depp onboard has been widely controversial, as the first Fantastic Beasts arrived in theaters only months after his ex-wife Amber Heard accused him of domestic abuse during their 2016 divorce. Depp ended up agreeing to a $7 million settlement, and in a joint statement released to TMZ, both actors claimed that Heard planned to donate the money to charity and that "there was never an intent of physical or emotional harm."
Nonetheless, fans have been skeptical about Depp's involvement, prompting the film's team to publicly address the backlash. Fantastic Beasts director David Yates called the matter a "dead issue" during an interview with Entertainment Weekly late last month, and on Thursday, Rowling also weighed in. "I'm saying what I can about the Grindelwald casting issue here," she tweeted along with a link to a longer statement on her website. (Rowling's rep told Bustle this is the only comment she will be making on the matter.) Rowling wrote that the allegations surrounding Depp "deeply concerned" her, and that while they considered recasting, they ultimately decided to keep Depp in the part. She continued:
"For me personally, the inability to speak openly to fans about this issue has been difficult, frustrating and at times painful. 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."
Viewers, however, were outraged by Rowling's response, and soon took to Twitter to air their disdain.
Some Compared Her To Lena Dunham
Dunham, an outspoken feminist, also came under fire last month after supporting Girls writer Murray Miller when he was accused of sexual assault. (Murray has denied the claims, but Dunham later apologized for coming to his defense.)
These People Called For A Boycott
That's one way to protest.
While Others Pointed Out The Impact Of Rowling's Words
This is about so much more than one movie.
Some Referenced Her Work
Added another Twitter user: "jk rowling legacy [sic] is literally about a boy who has been emotionally and physically abused and the danger in looking the other way bc the truth is inconvenient."
Or Outright Reclaimed It For Their Own
This is a full-on revolution.
And Many Unsubscribed From The Fandom
For some, this was the final straw.
But Mostly, Fans Were Just Flat-Out Disappointed
Rowling is generally quite beloved, so this came as a major blow.
And At Least One Person Damned The Entire Year
Is it 2018, yet?
Of course, there were some people in Rowling's court. "To all the ignorant people that keep [attacking] Jk Rowling after her statement ... GET OVER IT! [IT'S] OBVIOUS SHE KNOWS MORE THAN YOU THINK ABOUT THE CASE," tweeted one user. And another wrote: "JK Rowling clearly implies in her statement that she has inside info about allegations against Johnny but you still are too proud to admit that you are in the wrong side."
But by and large, the message is clear: Rowling has landed on the bad side of her fandom, and from the sounds of it, the Harry Potter franchise might not be strong enough to withstand it.