Harry Potter fans learned the unexpected news that Johnny Depp would be exiting the role of Gellert Grindelwald for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel, per the request of Warner Bros., likely in reaction to years-long allegations and legal battles regarding domestic abuse by his then-wife Amber Heard. In the wake of these allegations, a contingent of fans have been hoping to see the actor removed from the role. While regularly denying these claims, Depp recently lost a libel suit against the UK paper The Sun, which had described him as a "wife beater," which was seemingly the final straw for the studio, though Depp does plan to appeal the ruling. Now fans can't help but wonder if this means that Colin Farrell, who originally played "Grindelwald," could return to the series.
One of the biggest surprises of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was that the villainous Grindelwald was hiding in plain sight, as he was posing as Farrell's Percival Graves. The twist ending revealed that Grindelwald was merely impersonating Graves, with Depp then starring in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
According to Warner Bros., the plan is to recast the role.
"Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date," the studio shared in a statement. "Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production, and the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast. The film will debut in theaters worldwide in the summer of 2022."
The studio specifically using the word "recast" would surely imply an all-new actor would take over the role, but this could merely be a matter of semantics. From a logistical standpoint, Farrell is currently working on The Batman, a project which is also operating under Warner Bros., which is set to wrap filming early next year. While the coronavirus pandemic is already causing a number of complications for film productions, Warner Bros. could surely find a way to navigate the production schedules of the two projects to allow Farrell to reprise the role, if he so desired.
One question, however, is whether or not Farrell even wants to return. Back in 2017, he admitted that he signed on for the project knowing that it would only require him to be in one movie.
"It was always written that [that first film] was it," he explained to MTV.
He even went so far as to imply his character died shortly after the events of that first film.
"Maybe he's buried in a shallow grave," Farrell pointed out, "and he's going to die of starvation 17 hours after the film ends."
Given the magical nature of the series, there could surely be a way to explain why the character would take a new appearance, yet this won't be the first time an iconic character is played by two performers. In the first two Harry Potter films, Richard Harris played Albus Dumbledore, with his passing in 2002 leading to Michael Gambon taking over the role in subsequent films.
Whatever decision Warner Bros. makes about the role, it will surely be done with fan excitement in mind, as Depp's involvement in the series has caused many fans to express their frustrations over this decision and the franchise as a whole, while series creator, J.K. Rowling, has caused controversy over transphobic remarks, which not only drew the ire of fans, but also franchise stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint.
Stay tuned for details on Fantastic Beasts 3, which is set to hit theaters in the summer of 2022.
Would you like to see Farrell return? Let us know in the comments below!