Johnny Depp to Play Villainous Wizard in “Fantastic Beasts” Series


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first prequel/spin-off of the Harry Potter series, hasn’t even hit theaters yet – the movie premieres November 18th – but we’ve already gotten confirmation that it will be the first in a five movie series.

They may, perhaps, be getting a little ahead of themselves. If Fantastic Beasts doesn’t satisfy rabid Potterheads, the studio could end up with some egg on its face.

(Of course, this being part of the Harry Potter universe, the chances are much greater that it’ll smash all box office records simply because it’s been five years since we’ve had a Potter film in theaters.)

For now, director David Yates and producer David Heyman are counting the series an absolute sure thing and have dished on the latest announcement about the forthcoming sequels.

The Internet was abuzz with the news that Johnny Depp had been cast as the Fantastic Beasts‘ big bad: the dark wizard Grindelwald.

As fans of the books know, Gellert Grindelwald was the precursor to Voldemort, another evil wizard with plans of racial purity and global domination. He was also Albus Dumbledore’s closest childhood friend and first love, as was revealed in Deathly Hallows. In the original Harry Potter films he was played by Jamie Campbell Bower.

So why did Yates and Heyman go with Depp instead of asking Bower to reprise his role? As Yates put it, “Johnny Depp is a real artist. We thought he would do something fun and special. So we went for him, purely on that selfish basis.”

Heyman added, “Grindelwald is an iconic character, so it was important to have someone who had that weight.”

It’s true that Depp has created some of the most iconic characters in film, among them Captain Jack Sparrow and Edward Scissorhands. And save for his turn as vengeful anti-hero Sweeney Todd, he’s never really played an outright villainous character – so Grindelwald would be something of a change of pace.

Still, it remains to be seen whether his presence will be a boon or a hindrance to the Fantastic Beasts series. It’s been some time since Depp has starred in a successful or well-received film, and his reputation may overshadow the rest of Fantastic Beasts.

Plus, there’s the fact that introducing Grindelwald (and a young Dumbledore, who has yet to be cast) makes this series much more of a direct prequel than a set of stories simply set in the Potter universe – another detail that might frustrate fans hoping for something new and different.

Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see how everything pans out.

If you’ve any thoughts on these new developments, sound off in the comments below.



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