Dumbledore has been one of the most revered figures in the Wizarding World canon since he was first introduced some 20-plus years ago. However, the beloved wizard of the Harry Potter books and movies has an intriguing history that is unveiled in the third film in the Fantastic Beasts series.
“Dumbledore is such a major figure in J.K. Rowling’s world. In the Potter books and films, he’s charming, knowledgeable, mischievous, and all-knowing. One of the things that appealed to us was seeing the younger Dumbledore, in a formative period that will ultimately define the human being he will eventually become, ” says director David Yates, who helmed the last four of the blockbuster “Harry Potter” films before directing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, taking us to a new era of the Wizarding World created by J.K. Rowling, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in 2018.
Based on J.K. Rowling’s original screenplay, the final screenplay for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was written by Rowling and Steve Kloves, both of whom also served as producers on the film.
Kloves, who was a producer on the first two “Fantastic Beasts” films, has had a long tenure in the Wizarding World and has also written the screenplays for seven of the “Harry Potter” films. Yates says, “As a director, this was a treat for me because I love Jo and Steve, as writers and as colleagues. They are each incredibly gifted, so this was a perfect combination.”
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is a magical adventure that sends a team of unlikely heroes, led by Newt Scamander, on a mission that could spell their only chance to save both the wizarding and non-magical worlds. Each has a role to play in this covert operation devised by the ultimate wizarding mastermind: Professor Albus Dumbledore.
Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?
Jude Law, who returns to the role of the wizard destined to be Headmaster at Hogwarts, reveals, “What I enjoyed the most was the opportunity to unpeel more of Dumbledore’s past. There were hints of it in the last film, but here we are able to delve into his connection with Gellert Grindelwald as young men and the point at which it started to break. Albus had once shared with Grindelwald quite extreme views about Muggles, which he worked out himself as being wrong and backed away. But he lives with that dark secret and the fallout from their relationship.”
David Heyman, the producer of all the Wizarding World features, adds, “It’s about loyalty and misplaced loyalty, and also the ability to correct the errors of one’s past and move on. I think that is something very potent because we all have regrets in our lives. That is one of several themes in the film that I think will resonate with people.”
Portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, Gellert Grindelwald had been a wanted man due to his radical beliefs and violent tactics. Now, the powerful Dark wizard has emerged from the shadows, ready to implement his plot to gain control of the entire wizarding world and wage an all-out war on the Muggles. This time, however, he is not operating outside the law but within the system while twisting it to his own ends, which makes him all the more dangerous.
Dumbledore is the one wizard with the power to thwart Grindelwald’s ambitions, but there remains a physical manifestation of their previous relationship that stops him. Law explains, “The blood oath is the embodiment of the bond between Gellert and Albus, one made through youthful passion and belief. Even though their lives have taken very different directions, they are still connected in this stalemate, which, from Albus’s point of view, is hugely frustrating.”
Ever the chess master, Dumbledore formulates a plan that involves his friend and former student, Newt Scamander, joining forces with a small band of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle. Yates observes, “Dumbledore has a checkered history of encouraging people to do crazy things, but we love him for that, nonetheless.”
“The group that he puts together is a little like Dumbledore’s Army,” notes Heyman, referencing a familiar appellation for Harry Potter fans. “Every one of them is in some way an outsider, which is another theme that runs through J.K. Rowling’s work.”
Reprising the role of Magizoologist Newt Scamander, Eddie Redmayne says that although this is not the first time Dumbledore has enlisted Newt to operate on his behalf, their alliance has evolved…at least to some degree. “The relationship between Newt and Dumbledore started as the master/apprentice, where Newt was blindly puppeteered by Dumbledore and not always given the truth. And at the end of the last movie, Newt confronted Dumbledore and called him on it. Here it feels like their relationship has shifted to one in which Dumbledore still doesn’t tell him everything but lets him in as much as he possibly can. He sends Newt off on another extraordinary adventure but with more honesty and a bit of impetus and status, which is cool.”
Newt is joined by some familiar faces, including his older brother, Theseus, played by Callum Turner; Newt’s longsuffering assistant, Bunty, played by Victoria Yeates; Yusuf Kama, played by William Nadylam; and Muggle baker Jacob Kowalski, with Dan Fogler returning in the role. Though briefly glimpsed in the second “Fantastic Beasts” film, a new witch to the group is Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, a charming Charms professor at the American wizarding school Ilvermorny, played by Jessica Williams. It is Lally who must convince a reluctant Jacob to venture back into the wizarding world.
The only Muggle in the group, Jacob is “always out of his depth in the magical world,” says Yates. “As we go into this third instalment, we wanted to bring back more magic, whimsy and fun.”
“Heart, humour and adventure were the three pillars of this film for us,” Heyman relates. “There are elements of darkness, certainly, but it’s also tender, funny and thrilling. And of course, it has magic. I think we all wish we could inhabit a magical world and in ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ like Jacob, you are welcomed as though you belong because you do belong.”
Interestingly, there is something of a parallel between Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore in terms of each having to use others as means to opposite ends. Mikkelsen offers, “Grindelwald cannot make a move against Dumbledore, but Albus is in the way of Gellert gaining absolute power, so Credence is key for him. The film makes it very clear what each and every individual is trying to achieve; the question is how they are going to do it. I think it’s a wonderful story that takes us on a ride through this magical world.”
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore continues the series’ tradition of crossing new borders in the wizarding world
Producer Tim Lewis remarks, “It’s exciting to take these films to completely different places, bringing in other magical cultures and entering another Ministry of Magic, this time in Berlin.”
The adventure circles the globe—from China to Great Britain, from New York to Germany, and from the Austrian Alps to Bhutan. The movie also takes audiences back to the beloved Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the nearby village of Hogsmeade.
The filmmaking team worked their own brand of magic, fabricating each of those far-flung locations on the soundstages and massive backlot of Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden in England, which has been home to the Wizarding World films for more than two decades.
“One of the exciting things about exploring J.K. Rowling’s wider wizarding world is that it can take you, literally, to anywhere on the globe,” Yates says. “And this film truly has an international canvas, from the snowy streets of Berlin to the beautiful mountains of Bhutan.”
A team of artists and artisans collaborated with Yates to bring that canvas to life, including production designer Stuart Craig, who realized J.K. Rowling’s vision of the wizarding world, beginning with the first “Harry Potter” film. On this movie, he teamed with fellow production designer Neil Lamont, who had worked with Craig as a supervising art director on all the “Harry Potter” films. They were joined by director of photography George Richmond; Yates’ editor of choice, Mark Day; visual effects supervisor Christian Mänz; costume designer Colleen Atwood; and composer James Newton Howard.
Redmayne says that the juxtaposition of the wizarding and non-magical world “has always appealed to me—this idea that alongside the world we’re living in, brushing shoulders with us through that wall, is another entire universe that is one of magic and adventure. It ignites that sense of childlike wonder that anything could be possible. And to see that unfold in other countries beyond the UK has been astounding.”
DAVID YATES (Director) grew up in St. Helens, Merseyside, and studied Politics at the University of Essex and at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. His interest in film making started when he was a teenager and he made numerous short dramas and documentaries at university before training at The National Film and Television School as a director. Yates won his first BAFTA Award for his work on the BBC miniseries “The Way We Live Now,” a period drama starring Matthew Macfadyen and Cillian Murphy. In 2003, he directed the television drama series “State of Play,” for which he won the Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement.
The following year, Yates directed the gritty two-part drama “Sex Traffic,” winning another BAFTA Award and earning his second DGGB Award nomination. The unflinching look at sex trafficking also won a number of international awards, including eight BAFTA and four RTS Awards, both including Best Drama.
Yates then went on to helm the last four of the blockbuster “Harry Potter” films, culminating in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” which brought the record-breaking franchise to an epic conclusion.
In 2016 he directed the action adventure “The Legend of Tarzan,” starring Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz, before helming “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” taking us to a new era of the Wizarding World created by J.K. Rowling. The film was followed by “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in 2018.
Alongside his directing work, Yates supports emerging writers and directors, with funding for The Bush Theatre in West London, an annual scholarship at The National Film and Television School, and ongoing support for The Watersprite Film Festival in Cambridge.
Yates is a recipient of the John Schlesinger Britannia BAFTA Award for Excellence in Directing and has an Honorary Fellowship for Outstanding Contribution to the British Film and Television Industry, from the National Film and Television School.
J.K. ROWLING (Screenwriter/Producer) J.K. Rowling is the author of the enduringly popular, era-defining Harry Potter seven-book series, as well as several stand-alone novels for adults and children, and the acclaimed Strike crime fiction series written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
Many of her books have been adapted for film and television, and she has collaborated on a play continuing Harry’s story on stage, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and a new series of films inspired by her series companion volume Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Her first novel for adult readers, The Casual Vacancy, was published in September 2012 and adapted for TV by the BBC in 2015. Her Cormoran Strike crime novels, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, including The Cuckoo’s Calling, published in 2013; The Silkworm, published in 2014; Career of Evil, in 2015; and Lethal White, in 2018. They have been adapted for television, produced by Brontë Film and TV.
Rowling’s 2008 Harvard commencement speech was published in 2015 as an illustrated book, Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination, and sold in aid of her charity Lumos and university-wide financial aid at Harvard. Her digital company, Pottermore, was launched in 2012, for fans to enjoy news, features and articles from the Wizarding World.
STEVE KLOVES (Screenwriter/Producer) wrote the screenplays for seven of the “Harry Potter” films, based on the beloved books by J.K. Rowling. He also served as a producer on “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” and more recently produced “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.”
His credits also include “Racing with the Moon”; “Wonder Boys,” for which he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay; “Flesh and Bone”; and “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” He also directed the latter two.
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