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Daniel Radcliffe discusses the backlash against Johnny Depp's 'Fantastic Beasts' casting

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 13/01/2018 Bryan Alexander
Daniel Radcliffe et al. posing for the camera: Daniel Radcliffe has broken his silence on the 'Fantastic Beasts' casting of Johnny Depp. © Getty Daniel Radcliffe has broken his silence on the 'Fantastic Beasts' casting of Johnny Depp.

Daniel Radcliffe has broken his silence on Johnny Depp's controversial casting in the sequel of J.K. Rowlings' Fantastic Beasts.

EW.com asked Radcliffe, who grew up onscreen in as Rowlings' wizard Harry Potter, about the uproar over Depp playing wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

The outcry has followed abuse allegations made by Depp's ex-wife Amber Heard during the couple's acrimonious 2016 divorce.

Radcliffe expressed reluctance wading into the debate.

“It’s a very hard thing for me,” Radcliffe said, pointing out that it's the same film production team on Fantastic Beasts who “gave me a great start in life and an amazing job.”

a man and a woman standing in front of a building: The dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (left, Johnny Depp) is recruiting followers like the mysterious Rosier (Poppy Corby-Tuech) for his nefarious plans in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.' © Jaap Buitendijk The dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (left, Johnny Depp) is recruiting followers like the mysterious Rosier (Poppy Corby-Tuech) for his nefarious plans in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.'

But then Radcliffe gave criticism, saying he didn't understand the film's support for Depp. “I can see why people are frustrated with the response that they were given from that," said Radcliffe.

In Radcliffe's mind, this support was especially troubling in light of the treatment towards Jamie Waylett, who played Hogwarts bully Vincent Crabbe. After appearing in six Harry Potter films, Waylett was dropped from the film franchise after being arrested for growing 10 marijuana plants in 2009. 

a young man lying on the ground: Daniel Radcliffe is shown in a scene from 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.' © Warner Bros. Daniel Radcliffe is shown in a scene from 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.'

This doesn't seem consistent or fair to Radcliffe compared to Depp's treatment.

Said Radcliffe:

"I’m not saying anything that anybody hasn’t already said — and this is a weird analogy to draw — (but) in the NFL, there are lots of players arrested for smoking weed and there is other people’s behavior that goes way beyond that and it’s tolerated because they’re very famous players. I suppose the thing I was struck by was, we did have a guy who was reprimanded for weed on the (Potter) film, essentially, so obviously what Johnny has been accused of is much greater than that.”

Fantastic Beasts director David Yates and producer David Heyman (who produced the Harry Potter films) put out a statement in November addressing Depp's casting in light of Heard's allegations.

"None of us involved in Fantastic Beasts would ever let our appreciation of talent obscure other, far more important considerations," their statement said. "We recognized the magnitude of the issues raised and understood the strength of feeling expressed. We hoped and strived at all times to be sensitive to both parties.

"We stand by our decision to have Johnny in the films," the statement added.

Rowling published a statement on her website in November, saying that she is not only comfortable with Depp's casting "but genuinely happy" to have him starring in the franchise.

"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 said.

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