Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) Production Notes

Director: David Yates, Jude La, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Katherine Waterston, Mads M
Writer(s): J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves
Main Cast: Eddie Redmayne,
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Release Date: 2022-04-14
Runtime: 142 mins. / 2 h 22 m
Official Site: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Release Status: Complete
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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?

Please note: Some production notes may contain spoilers.

“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.

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.

Director David Yates says, “Dumbledore is such a major figure in J.K. Rowling’s world. In the Potter books and films, he’s charming, knowledgeable, mischievous, 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.”

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 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.”

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, having 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.”

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 installment, we wanted to bring back more magic, whimsy and fun.”

“Heart, humor 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.” Five disparate wizards and witches and one bemused Muggle seem no match for Grindelwald and his entourage, which sadly now includes the love of Jacob’s life, Queenie Goldstein, again played by Alison Sudol. Another person in Grindelwald’s sphere of influence is the young man known as Credence, with Ezra Miller reprising the role of the character whose real name was revealed to be Aurelius Dumbledore.

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.”

The international ensemble also includes Richard Coyle as Albus’s brother, Aberforth Dumbledore; Poppy Corby-Tuech as Grindelwald’s loyal acolyte Rosier; Fiona Glascott as Minerva McGonagall; Oliver Masucci as Anton Vogel, the outgoing President of the International Confederation of Wizards; Maria Fernanda Cândido as Vicência Santos, running to replace him; Aleksandr Kuznetsov as Helmut, the head of the German Auror office; and Katherine Waterston, who briefly appears as Tina Goldstein, now the head of the American Auror office.

In addition, there are two returning favorites to the non-human cast: the Niffler, named Teddy, always on the lookout for shiny objects; and Pickett, the resourceful Bowtruckle, who is Newt’s constant companion. The film introduces several new beasts, including one that is pivotal to the tale. The magical Qilin (pronounced chillin) is seen in both its adult and baby forms. The adult resembles something of a cross between a dragon and a horse, with iridescent scales that generate a soft glow, while its baby possesses similar features but moves more like a newborn fawn. Revered in the magical community, this rare creature possesses the innate ability to see into a person’s soul and know if they are pure of heart—a gift that makes the Qilin integral to Grindelwald’s machinations to seize power, as well as Dumbledore’s plan to stop him. Other new additions include the voracious, crustacean-like Manticores, and a shape-shifting flying creature called a Wyvern.

“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.”