‘Fantastic Beasts’ producers explain why they cast Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, announce search for Young Dumbledore

"You’re brilliant one week, people are saying odd things the next, you go up and down."

11:30 am EDT, November 8, 2016

It’s no secret at this point that Dumbledore and Grindelwald will have increasingly large roles as the Fantastic Beasts movie series moves forward.

Now, while on the press circuit for the first film in J.K. Rowling’s new Wizarding World series, director David Yates and producer David Heyman — two longtime Potter crew members — hinted at how Dumbledore will be getting involved in the sequel. They also explained why they selected Johnny Depp to play Grindelwald, and it won’t make any critics of the decision happy.

J.K. Rowling has already finished the script for the sequel, and casting is well underway. “In the second movie Dumbledore comes back,” Yates told websites including The Leaky Cauldron over the weekend. “He’s got a couple of good scenes with Newt… We’re discussing who would play Dumbledore, any suggestions would be good. [Laughs]”

They confirmed that Michael Gambon will not be the one playing Dumbledore. “We need a younger Dumbledore,” they said. How about his son, Mad Men alum Jared Harris? “[He’s] a fine actor. But, yes? Any recommendation.”

Related: Benedict Cumberbatch and 13 other actors who definitely shouldn’t play Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts

As for Johnny Depp, Yates and Heyman confirmed Hypable’s report that the actor will be playing Grindelwald in the sequel, adding that Depp came in to film for two days earlier this year for the first movie.

Asked why they’d select someone who’s recently faced allegations of domestic abuse, Yates said their decision came down to his talent.

Johnny Depp as Grindelwald

“The whole principal of casting the movie was go with the best actor,” he said. “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.”

Added 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.”

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