Last Friday, we learned the shocking news that Warner Bros. had requested that Johnny Depp vacate his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Depp, who revealed the bombshell himself via Instagram, explained that he had respectfully moved aside and WB has since released a statement confirming that Grindelwald will be recast for Fantastic Beasts 3.
The implications of this are pretty huge, with the actor’s fans furious on social media for what they believe is an unfair dismissal after the controversial ruling in his libel court case last week. Let’s stick with the fictional ramifications of this decision for the moment, though, and examine how the prequel threequel may deal with the fact that Grindelwald has got himself a new face when we next see him.
First of all, it’s possible that they won’t address it at all. Famously, Michael Gambon took over the role of Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban following the death of original actor Richard Harris. The change was never acknowledged and Gambon’s version even had a very different characterization and fashion sense from Harris. But the fact that he still had long white hair and a beard was enough to convince audiences that he was the same guy.
So, they could pull the same trick with Grindelwald. Get another actor in, give them the short, spiked and bleached hair and a heterochromatic contact lens and pretend that nothing’s happened. However, the way the story is going in the FB movies means that they could actually explain the loss of Depp in a way that won’t require audiences to suspend their disbelief. Because the thing is, Grindelwald already changed his appearance in the first film.
2016’s Where to Find Them features Colin Farrell as Percival Graves, who turned out to be Grindelwald in disguise in a final twist. He was operating as Graves to infiltrate the MACUSA and now that he’s declared war on the Wizarding World in Crimes of Grindelwald, it might be time for him to transform himself once again in order to avoid detection. Probably not back into Graves, despite fans wanting Farrell back, but you never know.
Fantastic Beasts 3 is now scheduled to arrive in summer 2022.