Johnny Depp: New Movies and #MeToo

There is a disturbingly long, and ever-growing, list of sexual assault allegations made against some of the most reputable men in Hollywood. The media frenzy around the #MeToo movement has been wide, and criticism about Johnny Depp and his casting in the Fantastic Beasts franchise is no exception. The public has taken to Twitter to condemn JK Rowling’s decision to support Depp’s role in the movies, however, on a larger scale, the allegations don’t appear to have the power to affect movie ratings. With the next film, The Crimes of Grindelwald, set to be released next month, what impact will Depp’s controversial character have in the film’s reception?

One of Depp’s most memorable characters, the intoxicated and chaotic Jack Sparrow, seems to be trickling into his reality at a disturbing pace.  More and more allegations are surfacing from the ocean of reports made against him including broken contracts and outstanding wages. Depp has always been dubbed quirky and a bit rogue but in 2016 the mirage around the movie star darkened. His wife, Amber Heard, filed for divorce and acquired a temporary restraining order against Depp, claiming that she had suffered domestic abuse at the hands of the Hollywood star for the duration of their four-year relationship. Less than a year later he was to be recast as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts series, but the Harry Potter fans were not happy. Depp’s character has been a key face in the marketing of the film, obviously an attempt to appeal to the masses despite the cloud surrounding his name.

But, what if this marketing strategy backfires and people refuse to support a man alleged to have beaten up his wife? JK Rowling doesn’t seem to think it will, saying she was ‘genuinely happy to have Johnny Depp in the Fantastic Beasts sequel’. For someone who has repeatedly spoken out for women’s rights, it seems surprising that she could endorse a man with such substantial evidence stacking up against him. Removing Depp from the movie would have been far more effort, and cost far more money, than allowing him to continue his reign of abuse and exploitation. It’s disappointing that a woman who preaches for women’s rights has failed to see the implications her casting will have. She is putting forth the notion that some allegations just aren’t as serious as other and names like Depp’s are above removal and replacement.

Unfortunately for Johnny Depp, times have changed, and people are beginning to recognise and understand dysfunctional and harmful behaviour, yet, it still seems that this takes a backseat in Hollywood. There is no doubt that the box offices will go crazy about this film, mainly because the majority of people recognise and worship Depp as an incredibly talented actor, not as a domestic abuser.

Sian Smith

Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.