Down with Depp? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Down with Depp?

With the recent release of the cast photo for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald, Ellen Macleod dissects the contention surrounding the casting of Johnny Depp

On November 16th the cast photo for the second Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released. This sparked outcry from fans that the evil wizard Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp, had not been recast. In the past couple of years, it is undeniable that Johnny Depp has fallen from grace. Gone is the poster child of the 90's and hottie of the 00's; in his place is an old, bitter man clinging on to his biggest roles and clearly battling addiction to alcohol. A quick google search can reveal a plethora of evidence against Johnny Depp. It was the beginning of this year, however, that should have marked the end of his career. His divorce from Amber Heard in January 2017 and resulting restraining order from her, on the grounds of domestic abuse, should have put an end to his career; as it would have with any other. If Depp was an accountant, a builder, or even a postman; charges of domestic abuse would have resulted in termination from his job.

In the past couple of years, it is undeniable that Johnny Depp has fallen from grace

Hollywood, however plays a different game. Not only has his career not stopped, it hasn't shown any signs of slowing down either. According to IMDb Depp is currently working on 7 films, either finished, in post-production, or in the case of Fantastic Beasts, currently filming. The idea that domestic abuse allegations are something Depp can forget about, as can his fans, is sickening. Though there was public outcry against him when Amber Heard came out with evidence of rages, jealous paranoia, excessive drinking and brutality against her, this outcry hasn't transformed itself into anything substantial. His repeated role in Fantastic Beasts is proof of this. Not only is he not affected by these allegations, but is able to earn millions starring in a film predominantly aimed at younger generations. His career is living proof to children that if you are rich enough you can do anything, whether that's flying to Mars or beating your wife. There are no consequences, Forbes suggested 'his earnings will likely plummet next year', but likely misjudged Hollywood’s immorality when it comes to casting those who shouldn't have been cast.

Depp's story is not a stand-alone one amidst righteous justice towards all wife beaters. Last year Casey Affleck won an Oscar for the film Manchester-by-the-sea, despite public outcry against his casting and awards after sexual assault claims made by 2 separate women in 2010. More recently Mel Gibson was cast in Daddy's Home 2 despite his anti-Semitic drunken rant in 2006. Daddy's Home 2 is also a film predominantly aimed at a younger demographic, teaching them that sometimes the baddie wins.

The numerous allegations coming out this year against many Hollywood stars could signify change. The knowledge of how rife and widespread sexual assault and misogyny is in the film industry, cannot be ignored and hopefully these people will start having to face proper sanctions. Gal Gadot recently hit headlines with her decision, along with other female cast members, to not work on the second Wonder Woman film until it’s producer Bret Radner is fired, after multiple sexual harassment allegations were made against him. However, you could argue this has only gained publicity because it involves Gal Gadot.

Johnny Depp with ex-wife and accuser Amber Heard

The fear is that firstly sexual assault will be so widespread that it will become commonplace, normal and therefore excusable. Secondly, that following on from the examples set by Johnny Depp, Casey Affleck and Mel Gibson, that even with the sheer number of allegations set to start change, inevitably in the end, no one will face consequences or justice.

It could be argued that these men did face economic sanctions for their actions and therefore a form of justice; Affleck settled his allegations outside of court presumably with a lot of money, Gibson had to pay a five-thousand-dollar bail and Depp had to pay a 7-million-dollar divorce settlement. However, does a fine really count if it has no real effect on those that the fine is imposed on. It is hard to believe that Depp found 7 million a big loss with his successful film career and multiple endorsements including Dior. The reality is there is no sign that any of these men are going to face real justice even in 'woke' 2017. Public outcry means nothing, it is useless against Hollywood and the sheer wealth of its high flyers. Whilst outside of Hollywood money also means actions don't have real consequences, the issue with Hollywood is that it is not just a business, it is an all-pervading influence. It affects every generation and culture and should therefore be aware of its responsibility.

His talent does not and cannot justify his behaviour
It is ironic that the industry who gave the phrase 'with great power comes great responsibility' a higher reach, seemingly ignore their huge responsibility. Instead they flaunt their power by allowing people such as Depp, Weinstein and Affleck not only to carry on working but reward them for doing such, either with ridiculous sums of money or actual awards like Oscars. Hollywood’s huge influence as a part of western culture has only grown in the last 20 years and become more accessible through the internet, Netflix, YouTube etc.... its views on misogyny and assault are therefore also more accessible resulting in generations being brought up with the belief that there are not always consequences for bad actions, money is an escape from justice, and the public and especially women are powerless in the onslaught against rich, white, influential men.

Seemingly Depp’s main defence from his fans is that ‘I loved him in Pirates of the Caribbean though’, as if that is a worthwhile defence for his behaviour towards his wife. I am not denying Depp is skilled in acting, his performances in (all of) Tim Burton’s works are entertaining and his ability in other films to embody so many different and iconic characters is commendable. However, his talent does not and cannot justify his behaviour. The Depp we currently see is clinging on to old roles such as Edward Scissorhands, Jack Sparrow or Willy Wonka, hoping we see those and not the bitter, volatile alcoholic that he really is. His part in Fantastic Beasts 2 must be recast. Depp maintaining the role cements the fear that Hollywood is irredeemable when it comes to casting these people. Fantastic Beasts is such a hugely popular film series, with four more forecasted, that this part would give Johnny Depp every reason to believe he is completely above any form of justice and can continue with his current behaviour.


30th November 2017 at 2:55 pm

Images from

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