Jude Law teases new take on Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts 2
Ask Jude Law, “What’s the hardest part of playing a young Albus Dumbledore?” and he might reply, “Keeping secrets.”
The 45-year-old, two-time Oscar nominee joins J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world as an early version of the character — who becomes the future headmaster of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books — in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (out this Friday), and he already knows what’s in store for his dashing hero over the course of three planned sequels.
“I know where he’s going. So I’ve got this aim in my mind and I get to take you closer and closer to the Dumbledore we know and love from the Potter world and show how he ended up being that man,” Law says down the line from Los Angeles.
Co-star Eddie Redmayne was enthused to be working alongside Law as he reinterpreted the character.
“I’ve known Jude for many years, so I was incredibly excited that he’d been cast — purely on a selfish level because I was getting to work with a mate,” he says in a separate interview. “But when he showed up on set, there was a look, one glance, where we meet on the bridge that I think encapsulates the gravitas and whimsy and mercurial quality that we’ve all known and loved in Dumbledore.”
Following the first Fantastic Beasts, the second entry in a planned five-film series moves the action from America to Europe, with Newt Scamander (Redmayne) coaxed by the esteemed Hogwarts professor to hunt down the outlaw wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp).
In Rowling’s Potter books, Grindelwald is one of the dark wizards that pre-dates the villainous Lord Voldemort.
“A lot of the original Potter fans are grown up and this story has grown up with them ... Even youngsters will understand the stakes in this movie,” Law teases.
In addition to shining a closer light on Grindelwald, the sequel, which is again written by Rowling and directed by David Yates, brings back familiar characters from the 2016 original, including Newt’s love interest Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), and Queenie’s muggle main squeeze Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).
We also meet Scamander’s Auror brother Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner), his fiancee Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz), and Nagini (Claudia Kim) — who in the books becomes Voldemort’s loyal snake.
“First of all, I think it’s a stroke of genius to take the story back to a time before the Harry Potter books,” Law says. “Another thing I think is very clever is Jo Rowling weaves into Fantastic Beasts little threads that link it to Harry Potter and that generation.”
Law is excited by the prospect of playing Dumbledore in three more sequels.
In the Potter films, Dumbledore was played by Richard Harris and Michael Gambon. Other than returning as John Watson for a second time in the Sherlock Holmes series, he hasn’t been part of an ongoing franchise.
“It’s a very, very exciting prospect on so many levels,” he says. “First of all,
I’m in great company with this cast and crew. It’s a warm and safe and collaborative environment, which I think shows in the film from the top down.
“Then I’ve got this wonderful character in my hand. J.K. Rowling allows her characters to evolve and continue to be full of surprises. It’ll never feel as if I’m doing this by rote; there will always be challenges and what a wonderful character to slowly unpeel.”
Buoyed by his experience joining Rowling’s evergrowing magical world, Law spoke to the Sun about taking on a young Dumbledore and the mysteries that await.
“The calm and sense of self that the old Dumbledore has is yet to be achieved. He’s a man still going through and figuring out his path.” — Jude Law on how his Albus Dumbledore differs from the Harry Potter-era character (right).
Were you a fan of the Potter books and movies when they started coming out 20 years ago?
Oh yeah. I discovered them with my children. I was reading the Potter books to my kids and we listened to the audio books on holidays and I took them to the movies. Like for so many families, Potter and that world was a big part of our family. I knew all about it.
So is this your kids’ favourite role you’ve done?
They haven’t seen the film yet, but they’re pretty excited that I’m suddenly in it.
Do you have a favourite Potter film?
Hmmm. I think the last two — the Deathly Hallows
— really blew me away. To look back at where we’ve come from and where these characters — Harry, Hermione and Ron — how far they went and the darkness and stakes that they encountered, I just felt so impressed by that journey. It was incredible.
You’re playing the young Dumbledore. How much did you and J.K. talk about where Dumbledore had been and what he had experienced in his life before we meet him in this film?
When you have the opportunity to work with the creator of a character, and a novelist at that, it’s like having a well of inspiration and detail. She was very generous with her time and she gave me a very clear picture of who he was from childhood; his motivations and the pivotal moments from his life and the scars that were left. So she and David Yates gave me a real sense early on so we could redefine that period before Dumbledore became the man we know and love from the
Potter movies. I was able to dig into the demons and the turmoil and the drama of a younger man and the stuff that he has yet to resolve.
J.K. famously stated that Dumbledore is gay. Was there something in particular you wanted to know about?
Oh yeah. There was stuff about his relationship with Gellert Grindelwald. There’s that relationship and what happens between them that causes this rift. But prior to that what happened in the Dumbledore family. As we all know, Dumbledore’s childhood was quite idyllic and then something happens and what happened in the family really changed his life and emotional fabric. That will come into more detail in the next (instalments). But understanding his relationship with Grindelwald was key.
It’s a lot darker than anything we’ve seen in any of the other Potter films. It’s certainly a lot darker than the first Fantastic Beasts.
What did you think of that decision?
I think what we’ve done is serve the story and the themes of the story and the situations the characters find themselves in. I still think that there’s a light touch and wonderful escapism that J.K. Rowling brings to it. But, I also think, we live in dark times and the films reflect the period we’re all living in.
How did you think your Dumbledore is different from the one we meet later on in the Potter films? To me there’s a mischievous charm to the younger man.
I guess one of the things that makes him different is he’s 45 and not 112. The calm and sense of self that the old Dumbledore has is yet to be achieved. He’s a man still going through and figuring out his path. Also, he’s still living with demons that are unresolved. There are still issues that he carries that he needs to confront and work through.
In the trailer Dumbledore says to Newt, ‘I can’t move against Grindelwald.’ What’s the relationship Dumbledore has with Newt versus the one he has later on with Harry?
They are slightly more on equal footing. Even though Newt was Dumbledore’s student, he’s an adult. With Harry and Dumbledore, it’s always child and master. I think there’s slightly more neutrality to the Dumbledore-- Newt relationship. Having said that, Dumbledore has a way of leading and manoeuvring his friends in a way that keeps them guessing. I always think how he was a master in the Potter series of making people think that they were coming to their own decisions when really they had been encouraged by him.
In Potter-lore, Dumbledore is the one who defeats Grindelwald. Has J.K. already revealed how that’s all going to play out?
Not in too much detail, but I do know certain emotional situations — I’m being very careful with what I tell you here.
You’re going to be back shooting the third one next year. How is the
Fantastic Beasts series going to progress? Is it going to get darker?
I think J.K. Rowling has always been a brilliant reader for what her audiences’ desires are. There will be areas that I’m sure will get darker and more intense. But, equally, she always approaches the story with such humour and delicacy, and I think that will always remain.
Alright, we’re coming up to the holidays and I have to say your movie The Holiday always helps us kick off Christmas. What’s your favourite festive movie?
I’m probably going to be really predictable here and say It’s a Wonderful Life. But I also love A
Charlie Brown Christmas. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens Friday
Star Jude Law, who joins J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, says he has one goal in mind and that’s to “get to take you closer and closer to the Dumbledore we know and love from the Potter world.”
Clockwise from left: Callum Turner, Zoe Kravitz and Eddie Redmayne; Katherine Waterston; Alison Sudol; a Zouwu; Johnny Depp; and Dan Fogler star in Crimes of Grindelwald.