Along with the news that the Fantastic Beasts movies are looking to cast a young Dumbledore, all we care about is if the emotional core of the next couple of films is going to be the betrayal Dumbledore feels when the man he falls in love with turns out to be evil.
It’s not a huge surprise—once the news came out that the movies were looking to cast young Dumbledore, that Grindelwald was going to play a more and more important role in the Beasts movies going forward, and the Johnny Depp was going to be in those movies, we kind of put the pieces together. But it’s always nice to have confirmation.
Director David Yates (via the Leaky Cauldron) said of the casting of Depp as Grindelwald:
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.
Interesting is a good way to put it. It’s legitimately a little difficult to imagine Depp as the evil Grindelwald, but not hard to imagine him as being charismatic enough to make Dumbledore fall in love with him.
Producer David Heyman added, “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.”
Yates also said that even though Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes place in New York, the films going forward will mostly be in Europe. In particular, the second film of this proposed five-movie series will mostly take place in the U.K. and Paris. Which is honestly something of a relief because J.K. Rowling has not shown any facility in writing about wizards in America.
It’s kind of weird that all the news about the sequels to Fantastic Beasts is a lot more interesting than the movie coming out this month. Although making the movies about the fight against Grindelwald—which the Harry Potter books said was one of Dumbledore’s most famous acts—leaves us wondering how much Newt (Eddie Redmayne) can be incorporated into the story without it being weird, and how the characters we meet in wizarding New York will come into play.