- Frazer Harrison/Getty
Warning: Spoiler below about a character in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
If you’ve read up on “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” in the last few weeks, it’s really no longer a secret: Johnny Depp is playing Gellert Grindelwald in the “Harry Potter” spin-off franchise.
He has a very brief (and cleverly placed) cameo in “Fantastic Beasts” (opening in theaters on Friday), but Depp will really sink his teeth into the character for the sequel, which is currently set for a 2018 release.
For “Fantastic Beasts” producer David Heyman, the casting of Depp was a no-brainer.
“Grindelwald is a major character and it’s pretty big shoes to fill,” Heyman recently told Business Insider. “So you want someone who is charismatic, who is brave as an actor, who can stand up and is iconic. Johnny is one of the few actors who has created several iconic characters and he’s brave, he’s a great artist, he’s a great actor. So we went to Johnny and he said yes.”
Heyman said Depp was cast a year and a half ago, after principal photography on “Fantastic Beasts” had wrapped. Depp came on for a few additional shooting days in the beginning of 2016.
Set in the late 1920s, “Fantastic Beasts” follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a wizard who is in the midst of taking a break in New York City from studying beasts around the world. But when the beasts begin to escape from his suitcase, the race is on to capture them all.
- Warner Bros.
The subplot to that involves dark wizard Grindelwald, who is wreaking havoc in Europe and could be heading toward the US.
“Fantastic Beasts 2” will likely delve deeper into the relationship between Gindelwald and Albus Dumbledore, a character Heyman confirmed to Business Insider will also be in the sequel.
Recently, press attention to Depp has been more focused on his private life than his screen work.
In May, actress Amber Heard filed for divorce from Depp after 15 months of marriage. Less than a week later she filed a domestic violence restraining order against Depp. In August they settled the case.
Though Depp was cast in the franchise long before the divorce and domestic abuse case, it’ll be interesting to see if fan reaction to the casting will affect how “Fantastic Beasts” screenwriter/”Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling and director David Yates use the Grindelwald character moving forward.
At the moment, Rowling is keeping the focus on Depp’s talents, saying at the film’s premiere that she’s “delighted” by the casting and that he’s done “incredible things” with the role already.