Producer David Heyman and director David Yates have confirmed that Johnny Depp will be playing evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the follow up to Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Fans has guessed this was the case after the announcement of Depp’s casting a few days back coupled with JK Rowling’s surprise revelation that Fantastic Beasts would be the first in a series of five movies — and that the franchise’s big story arc would concern the rise of the dark wizard Grindelwald.
Speaking to The Leaky Cauldron Yates and Heyman have revealed that filming with Depp has already taken place. “We filmed early. I was amazed. It was completely bonkers. I was convinced it [would be leaked]… you can keep very few secrets nowadays, especially something like that! When he came to Leavesden and we filmed for two days… and it didn’t come out. That’s mad.”
Two musings immediately come to mind following on from that revelation. Two days? Is that all he’s filming for Fantastic Beasts 2, in which case he can’t be in the film much? Or is that just some initial filming? And is one of the reasons for the early filming that he might be turning up for a cameo in the first film? Can we expect to see him in an end credits extra scene?
David Yates explains why they chose Depp for the role: “The whole principle 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?’ 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 adds. “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.”
On other new Yates also confirms that Dumbledore will be back in the sequel. “No it’s not going to be Michael Gambon. No, we need a younger Dumbledore.” Wonder if we’ll get to see him with a same-sex partner?
The sequel will take place in the UK and Paris. “We confirm it!,” says Yates. “We do go back to the UK in the second film as well; it’s UK and Paris. I’m not sure where Jo is setting the rest of the movies, but they’ll be European-centric. I think it will be difficult to ignore America, but the next one is predominately Europe.”
But what the sequel might be called. Will the series have Fantastic Beasts as a running title? I which case do fantastic beasts have to be a necessary part of the mix in each film?
Yates says, “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.”