‘Fantastic Beasts’ bows to fan pressure, Depp replaced by Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman to play Dumbledore

If you've ever doubted the power of fans, here's proof we get stuff done.

10:00 am EDT, April 1, 2017

Sherlock fans rejoice! Fantastic Beasts has cast Martin Freeman as Dumbledore, and replaced Johnny Depp with Benedict Cumberbatch.

Oh what a day!

Grindelwald has been resurrected

When it was revealed Johnny Depp was to play Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts series, some people were not happy. They felt it unethical to have Depp cast in the series, because of his personal life controversy.

When director David Yates’ commented on this matter, he did little to appease the critics. People felt he was brushing aside a troubling issue, “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.”

However, now it seems production has rethought their casting decision, going for a much safer and popular choice in Benedict Cumberbatch, “It wasn’t easy, but ultimately we felt that the fans know more than we do,” producer David Heyman says in a statement. “We learned a lot from Potter, and though I’m incredibly proud of those films, I think if we’d just listened to the fans and did what they said, Potter could have been just a bit more magical. And maybe won an Academy Award.”

Heyman continues, “We’re thrilled to have Benedict join the team. Obviously we’re all huge fans of his work in Sherlock. He’s shown time and again how good he is at playing roles similar to that, so we’re really excited to see him bring that smart-guy awkwardness to Grindelwald.”

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

This is far from the first time an important character has been recast in sequels. Katie Holmes was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy; Rhodey began with Terrence Howard in Iron Man, but was recast as Don Cheadle in subsequent Marvel films; and the Hannibal Lecter films replaced Jodie Foster as the lead character with Julianne Moore. And seeing as Depp was only in Fantastic Beasts for a small amount of time, it’s likely most people won’t even notice the change.

Dumbledore has risen from the ashes

On the heels of this announcement, it’s also (finally) been revealed who will play a young Albus Dumbledore. In light of the new Grindelwald casting, this is perhaps the most unsurprising surprise to have ever surprised us: Martin Freeman will play the young Albus Dumbledore, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch’s Gellert Grindelwald.

“In addition to the recasting of Grindelwald, we’re also happy to announce that fellow Sherlock star Martin Freeman is set to play Dumbledore,” Heyman states. “It was an obvious choice, really. With Benedict now in the series, we just had to add Martin as well. And knowing Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s history, we hope Johnlock shippers will be just as excited about this as we are.”

While Jared Harris has frequently been touted the fan favorite for Dumbledore (succeeding his father Richard Harris, who was Dumbledore in the first two Potter films), we’re sure the Potter community will be thrilled to see Martin play Dumbledore. Not to mention how great it will be to see Martin and Benedict together again, especially since their characters are a canon ship this time.

J.K. Rowling has also tweeted her support:

We wish all the best to Benedict and Martin, and cross our fingers they don’t screw up!

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