Specifically, they were concerned about giving the important role of Gellert Grindelwald (now confirmed as Depp's role) to a man who only months ago was involved in a domestic abuse case.
Although many fans expressed their outrage at casting an alleged abuser in their beloved children's series, director David Yates, who also directed the last four "Harry Potter" films, doesn't see the problem.
When asked about the controversial casting in an interview with The-Leaky-Cauldron, Yates said,
The whole principal of casting the movie was go with the best actor. Go for the most inspired, interesting, right fit for that character. And as we approached Grindelwald we thought, 'Who's going to take this in an interesting direction?' In this business, it's a weird old business. You're brilliant one week, people are saying odd things the next, you go up and down. But no one takes away your pure talent.
(We'll assume that by "odd things," Yates is referring to the domestic violence/divorce case 30-year-old actress Amber Heard brought to court last May. The case was finally settled in August, and Heard donated her $7 million settlement to the ACLU to help violence against woman. That "odd thing.")
Yates did not stop his praise of Depp there. He said,
Johnny Depp is a real artist. He's created several characters who have really resonated in our popular culture. He's a really brilliant, brilliant actor. We were excited about seeing what he would do with this guy, the character. He's fearless; he's imaginative; he's ambitious. We thought he would do something fun and special. So we went for him, purely on that selfish basis. We don't care if he's famous or not famous. We just know he's interesting.
And film producer David Heyman chimed in as well, saying,
Grindelwald is an iconic character, so it was important to have someone who had that weight. There's a reason why he has that weight. It's because, you know, he's a fine actor who makes unexpected choices.
So there ya have it, "Potter" fans who are also abuse survivors! The Davids don't care if Depp is an abuser famous or not, because he's just so darn interesting!
At least we know for sure now Depp will be playing Grindelwald.
You can see a brief glimpse of the back of Depp's head in this featurette for the film around 3:22.
In the past, Yates said the next four films in the "Fantastic Beasts" franchise will feature heavily on Grindelwald and Dumbledore as young men.
In this interview, Yates also confirmed a younger Dumbledore will be cast for the upcoming films (not Michael Gambon). He said,
In the second movie Dumbledore comes back. He's got a couple of good scenes with Newt… We're discussing who would play Dumbledore, any suggestions would be good. [Laughs.]
Hm, I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to think twice about where I'm spending my money when "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" hits theaters on November 18.