JK Rowling, Warner Bros. voice support for Johnny Depp

NEW YORK — J.K. Rowling voiced her support for Johnny Depp and his casting in an upcoming sequel to "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," following earlier domestic abuse allegations made against the actor.

The author published a statement on her website Thursday, breaking her silence on what had been a simmering controversy for the franchise. Some Harry Potter fans have said they would boycott "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" after Depp's ex-wife Amber Heard in May 2016 said that Depp was "verbally and physically abusive" to her during their marriage. Depp earlier called that claim and others "salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies." The two settled their divorce last year.

Rowling acknowledged that the reports "deeply concerned" her and others behind the production, and that she and director David Yates considered recasting Depp's role. While Depp had a brief cameo in "Fantastic Beasts," he has a starring role as the Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the follow-up film, and potentially future installments in the pre-Potter franchise.

"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," wrote Rowling. "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."

Rowling added: "I accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role. However, conscience isn't governable by committee. Within the fictional world and outside it, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing."

Warner Bros. said it supported the decision.

"This matter has been jointly addressed by both parties, in a statement in which they said 'there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm,'" said the studio in a statement. "Based on the circumstances and the information available to us, we, along with the filmmakers, continue to support the decision to proceed with Johnny Depp in the role of Grindelwald in this and future films."

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com

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