Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts and Harry Potter legend, is a character near and dear to every wizardry fan’s heart. So when a casting change or a new movie (or a previously unmentioned sexuality) comes out, obviously audiences will be interested. We know that the upcoming film in the J.K. Rowling-verse, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, will feature a flashback segment of young Newt and Dumbledore practicing spells, but what about Dumbledore portrayer Jude Law — how is he approaching the eccentric magical principal?
Well, according to an interview with EW, he had a personal meeting with Rowling where the author gave him the skinny on Dumbledore’s whole life — straight from the source. But his version won’t be beholden to those in the past. When asked about the performances of Richard Harris and Michael Gambon, Law said that “I talked with [director] David Yates about that, and we both decided that it wasn’t necessary to do an impersonation of one of them as a younger man. This is a man with almost 100 years ahead of him before he became that character, so we wanted to look at who he was in this moment and construct our own version.”
This moment is very specific — even as “Young Dumbledore” is in his mid-40s, there’s still an even greater sense of play hiding a “a certain heaviness” Law hints at. It’s also oddly specific because it seems to break from canon: It seems Dumbledore isn’t teaching Transfiguration to Newt, though the books note that he taught the subject before becoming headmaster.
“He doesn’t teach Transfiguration, actually, not at this stage. I’m not sure I’m allowed to say what he teaches,” Law said. And this strangeness only doubles when the matter of spells comes up. “Well … I ah … I only get to cast one,” Law said. “There’s a lot you don’t know about Albus in this film. And there are certain restrictions in storytelling — you’ll see, it all makes sense. You don’t see him in full flow yet.” What is going on with Dumbledore’s powers? Is he under some sort of magical house arrest?
While those questions linger for now, a few nagging ones remain about Dumbledore’s sexuality (that director David Yates said would be not “explicitly gay”) in the film and his relationship with Grindelwald. It seems like that is yet to come as the Fantastic Beasts team kicks that difficult can down the path. “You’re just getting to know Albus in this film, and there’s obviously a lot more to come,” Law said. “We learn a little about his past in the beginning of this film, and characters and their relationships will unfold naturally, which I’m excited to reveal. But we’re not going to reveal everything all at once.”
And as for him and Grindelwald? “I don’t actually have any scenes with Johnny [Depp]. As I said before, this is only Part 2 of a longer story.” So wait, what exactly is Dumbledore doing in this story?
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits theaters on Nov. 16.