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Johnny Depp Opens Up About Playing Grindelwald, Says J.K. Rowling 'Knows I Was Falsely Accused'

People logo People 11/10/2018 Alexia Fernandez

Johnny Depp, J. K. Rowling posing for the camera: Johnny Depp, J.K. Rowling © Jeff Spicer/Getty; Mike Marsland/WireImage Johnny Depp, J.K. Rowling Johnny Depp is opening up about his highly-anticipated new role as the villain Grindelwald in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

The actor spoke to Entertainment Weekly in an interview published on Thursday in which he reveals he had a certain amount of freedom in making the dark wizard his own.

“I had this image in my head of the guy,” he said. “The beauty of J.K. [Rowling] and of [director David] Yates is they put trust in me to a degree. J.K. and I had some really nice talks and I had some ideas and she just said, ‘I can’t wait to see what you do with him.’”

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“It was beautifully left as this open gift,” he added.

When his casting was announced, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling faced backlash from fans questioning why domestic violence allegations made against Depp by his ex-wife Amber Heard didn’t preclude him from the project.

a man standing on a stage: Depp as Gellert Grindelwald © Provided by TIME Inc. Depp as Gellert Grindelwald Rowling released a statement late last year, saying that “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.”

Of the controversy, Depp said he “felt bad” that the author had to step in.

“But ultimately, there is real controversy,” he added. “The fact remains I was falsely accused, which is why I’m suing the Sun newspaper for defamation for repeating false accusations.”

“J.K. has seen the evidence and therefore knows I was falsely accused, and that’s why she publicly supported me,” he said. “She doesn’t take things lightly. She would not stand up if she didn’t know the truth. So that’s really it.”

When reached by EW, Heard’s attorney replied, “As the parties agreed in their divorce to resolve future disputes in confidential arbitration, that is the appropriate forum to address Mr. Depp’s public denials that he abused Ms. Heard.”

Johnny Depp is opening up about his highly-anticipated new role as the villain Grindelwald in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. © GETTY Johnny Depp is opening up about his highly-anticipated new role as the villain Grindelwald in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Depp is currently suing the British newspaper The Sun for libel for accusing Depp of being a “wife-beater” in an article written by Dan Wooton, whom Depp is also suing.

An attorney for the actor claimed “evidence” in the case against the newspaper will be presented in court next month, according to EW. His attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Depp has vehemently denied the abuse allegations throughout the contentious divorce, calling the claims “salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation, and lies.”

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens Nov. 16

Video: Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis’ 16-Year-Old Son Jack Has ‘Serious Health Problems’ (People)

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