Johnny Depp has addressed the controversy surrounding his casting in the forthcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel The Crimes of Grindelwald, saying he “felt bad” for J.K. Rowling as defended the decision to go with the actor in the light of domestic abuse allegations against the actor.

Back in December last year, the Harry Potter author Rowling – of whose book and film series the Fantastic Beasts movies are a spin-off – justified Depp’s inclusion in the films, despite the allegations of physical abuse made by his ex-wife Amber Heard during their bitter divorce proceedings in 2016.

“The film-makers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but [are] genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies,” the author had said ten months ago, adding that re-casting his part as the villain Grindelwald had “naturally” been considered.

Johnny DeppJohnny Depp is still featuring in 'The Crimes of Grindelwald'

“I’ll be honest… I felt bad for J.K. having to field all these various feelings from people out there… But ultimately, there is real controversy. The fact remains I was falsely accused… J.K. has seen the evidence and therefore knows I was falsely accused, and that’s why she has publicly supported me.”

55 year old Depp also repeated his intention to sue British tabloid paper The Sun for defamation in regard to a story about the film.

More: Johnny Depp breaks silence about Amber Heard domestic abuse allegations

In a subsequent statement to Entertainment Weekly, Heard’s lawyer said: “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.”

Depp and Heard, despite a 23 year age gap, tied the knot in 2015, but Heard filed for divorce just over a year later, alleging that the Pirates of the Caribbean star had been “verbally and physically abusive” towards her and obtaining a temporary restraining order.

That was lifted when the divorce was finalised in January 2017, with a clause in the agreement stating “neither actor would receive spousal support, and a confidentiality provision called for them to refrain from discussing their relationship in interviews or on social media”.

More: JK Rowling defends Johnny Depp casting decision for ‘Fantastic Beasts’ sequel