Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them doesn’t arrive until next week, but details about the next entry in the franchise are slowly starting to emerge. We recently learned that the sequel will take place in Paris and feature the return of Albus Dumbledore, who has ties with another character that will be seen in the franchise: Gellert Grindelwald.
Albus and Gellert were close friends until they were involved in a three-way duel with Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth, which resulted in the death of Albus’ young sister, Ariana. Grindelwald was obsessed with the Deathly Hallows and terrorized Europe in the early twentieth century, but was later defeated by Dumbledore in a legendary duel that we’ll no doubt see at some point in the series.
Casting for Dumbledore is reportedly already underway, but as we suspected, the role of Grindelwald has already been cast. While doing the press rounds for Fantastic Beasts, director David Yates and producer David Heyman revealed that Johnny Depp is indeed playing the dark wizard. The actor spent two days on set to shoot his cameo for the first movie, but will have a much larger role in the second one.
Speaking with The Leaky Cauldron and other press, Yates explained why they went with Depp as Grindelwald, a casting that was met with a generally negative response:
“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.”
Heyman also chimed in on the subject, adding:
“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 commented on whether the titular beasts will feature less in the sequel:
“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. “
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Source: The Leaky Cauldron