When Warner Bros. announced Johnny Depp would be in the first of four Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them sequels, there was a very vocal group of Harry Potter fans who cried out for his ousting. Essentially, they didn’t want an alleged domestic abuser in their franchise, even if he was probably there to play the villainous Grindelwald. They even appealed directly to Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. But she sided with the studio. And with the debut of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them these fans were dealt dismaying blow.
SPOILERS for Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.
Depp is already in the mix. In a groan-inducing twist, Rowling’s script reveals that the mysterious and manhandling Graves (Colin Farrell) is in fact Grindewald (Depp). And of course it wouldn’t be a Depp performance without a ludicrous combo of hair and make-up that makes him difficult to look at. As Grindewald, he delivers a few enigmatic threats, then is carried off to wizard prison, sure to return to menace in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them More Times. But he need not. I mean, yeah, Grindelwald will return. The series is clearly angling for him to be the Big Bad pre-Voldemort. But Depp need never return.
Considering we’ve clearly established Grindelwald has the ability to wear other faces Scooby Doo style, give him literally ANY other face. Let ANY other actor play him. Or hell, take a cue from the first film or from The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and bring back Colin Farrell. Fantastic Beasts has already established that Grindelwald can look like the alluring Irish rogue, so why wouldn’t he choose that face?
Grindewald is the crush Albus Dumbledore had in his youth, and grows to deeply regret. So I get how that makes Depp a meta-appropriate choice for the part. But audiences and critics have already warmed to Farrell’s take on his nefarious figure, while the Depp casting has spurred outcry, not only for his personal scandals but also because Depp’s credibility as an actor has been steadily depleted through piles of bizarre prosthetics and a string of insufferable performances in Alice Through the Looking Glass, Tusk, Black Mass, Into the Woods, Mordecai, The Lone Ranger, Transcendence, and I could go on.
Perhaps story-wise it doesn’t make sense to have Farrell come back when he’d be known by the wizarding community as a traitor and danger. But the second film is said to be set in Paris, and who’s to say Grindelwald is interested in hiding anymore anyway? But if he is, then Depp’s face shouldn’t be the one he’d wear as it’s more wildly known, or would be once MACUSA’s through with him. So that could actually open the franchise up in a thrilling way. Warner Bros. could use this casting catastrophe to their advantage by dumping Depp and bringing in a fresh face to the franchise to play Grindelwald’s latest disguise each time! Just think of all the swoon-worthy actors who could be looped in: Lee Pace. Idris Elba. Mads Mikkelsen. John Cho. Tom Hardy. Tilda Swinton. The WORLD could be their casting oyster.
Sure, Fantastic Beasts’ team is defending the Depp casting. They have to. But fan outcry could tilt the scales into a much more interesting—and arguably ethical—direction.
Dumbledore’s Army. Still Recruiting.