Harry Potter fans have praised Johnny Depp’s Gellert Grindelwald after the actor made a surprise appearance at Comic-Con to perform on stage in character.
Depp is playing the evil wizard in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, a Harry Potter spin-off set in the 1920s, decades before the events of JK Rowling’s books.
Grindelwald, similar to Voldemort, hates muggles and wants to see pure-blood wizards take over the magical world.
On Saturday, during a panel featuring co-stars Eddie Redmayne, who is reprising his role from the first film as clumsy magical creature enthusiast Newt Scamander, and Jude Law, who plays a young Albus Dumbledore, Depp made a surprise appearance.
Silence fell over the audience inside Hall H of the San Diego Convention Centre as 55-year-old Depp – dressed in black and with bleached white hair – addressed the audience.
He played with a wand while delivering a speech about “no-majs” – non wizards – before saying the “moment has come to rise up and take our rightful place in the world”.
The lights then went off and Depp disappeared to loud cheers from the audience.
Fans took to Twitter to express their excitement about seeing his full performance in the film.
But not everyone was supportive of the actor, whose casting sparked controversy following allegations of domestic abuse against his now ex-wife, Amber Heard.
JK Rowling said the stories “deeply concerned” her but stood by the decision to have Depp in the film, adding that she is “genuinely happy” to have him play a leading character.
Depp and Heard split in April 2016 after 15 months of marriage amid claims of domestic abuse. They later issued a joint statement saying there was “never any intent of physical or emotional harm”.
On Saturday, Heard appeared on stage shortly after Depp while taking part in a panel for an upcoming movie of her own, Aquaman.
Fans on social media criticised Warner Brothers, the studio who organised both events, for having the two stars appear closely together.
Comic-Con and Warner Brothers have been approached for comment.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald will be released on November 16.