Fans were outraged when it was announced that Warner Bros. asked Johnny Depp to step away from the role of Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, following charges of abuse against Depp by his ex-partner Amber Heard. Now, Jude Law, who plays the role of Albus Dumbledore in the series, has weighed in on Depp's departure and how it affects the franchise as a whole.
"[Fantastic Beasts 3 is] an enormous film, and there are many, many layers to it. It's probably one of the biggest productions I've ever worked on. And in a situation like this, you defer to the studio. That's all you can do. Because you have to turn up and play your part... It was unusual for me because, in fact, on this particular role. Johnny had actually only done a day's filming, I think, on his own... In a franchise like this, it's the studio and the company that make the big decisions. And you have to go along with those because we're just a member of the team."
More than any other character, Law's Dumbledore had the deepest connection to Depp's Grindelwald, and indeed, the entire Fantastic Beasts trilogy is built on the relationship between the two master wizards.
Set many decades before the events of Harry Potter, the first Fantastic Beasts movie followed the whimsical adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander and his voyage to America to add more magical creatures to his collection. At the end of the film, it was revealed that the most dangerous dark wizard in the world, Gellert Grindelwald, was the main villain behind the destructive events of that movie. It is believed that Mads Mikkelsen is in talks to replace Johnny Depp.
By the time Fantastic Beasts 2 rolled around, it had become clear that the overarching plot of the franchise dealt with Grindlewald's attempts to build a magical army to overthrow the world's muggle population. Harry Potter fans will know it fell to Albus Dumbledore to stop Grindelwald's rampage with a legendary duel, even though the two had been very close friends at one point.
It will be interesting to see how Depp's exit from the franchise will play into the events of Fantastic Beasts 3. For his part, Jude Law recently spoke about how much the role of Dumbledore meant to him, and his desire to do justice to a character that means so much to so many people.
"I'm so happy to be in this company and I'm so happy to be playing [Dumbledore]. It feels like every day we make these films, it feels like such a blessing. And there's also such a sense of well, it's the reverence I suppose, because they hold such a special place in so many people. Hold people's hearts and lives. I've never really felt that the way I have on this job. The responsibility that comes with that. But it's a beautiful thing too it's like being given a really precious artifact or something that you have to look after, maybe clean up a bit."
This news originated at Entertainment Tonight Online.