Next week we'll finally be brought back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but already we are learning details on the sequel. The big shock was finding out that Johnny Depp was coming board in a role that had fans speculating up and down. Some said he could be a young Dumbledore, but that isn't actually the case. Instead he will be one of Dumbledore's greatest enemies, Gellert Grindelwald.
Depp will be making a cameo in the first movie before taking a larger role in the sequel, which will also feature the return of Albus Dumbledore. David Yates and producer David Heyman spoke with The Leaky Cauldron about the casting of Depp, and the direction the five-movie franchise will take...
Yates: “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....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."
Grindelwald was a former friend (and possible lover) of Dumbledore's when they were young. They had a falling out that included a three-way fight with Dumbledore's brother. Dumbledore's sister was accidentally killed in the battle and Grindelwald fled, growing more power and gaining command of the Elder Wand which he used to commit terrible atrocities. Dumbledore eventually defeated him, however, and took possession of the Wand.
Heyman: “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.”
It turns out that Grindelwald is going to be such a presence in latter films that the titular beasts will have a much smaller role...
Yates: “...currently the beasts feature slightly less in the second film, and Grindelwald takes more of a foreground. Currently. But we love the beasts so much. There’s an amazing beast in the second movie–a Chinese beast, actually–that is featured. We’re exploring how we can get a couple more beasts into the second film, with Jo (J.K. Rowling).”
The sequels will also move the action from New York back to Europe, with the U.K. and Paris the primary setting. Will we see Grindelwald and Dumbledore have a confrontation there? If so, the latter will be played by someone who will follow in the footsteps of Michael Gambon and Richard Harris...
Yates: “In the second movie Dumbledore comes back. There are a couple good scenes with Newt. We just have to find out who would play him? No it’s not going to be Michael Gambon. No, we need a younger Dumbledore."
This may be a great role for Depp. He's always been far better as part of adventure franchises than working on his own. He'll at least give the character some flavor, for better or worse. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens November 18th.