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American films

Is Johnny Depp villain in new Fantastic Beasts film basically Trump?

  • Film’s writer J.K. Rowling is a long-time Trump critic but stars of the new Harry Potter series movie say it looks at more universal themes of tyranny
PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2018, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2018, 1:02pm

Johnny Depp’s charismatic leader at the centre of the new Fantastic Beasts sequel isn’t modelled on US President Donald Trump.

But the stars of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the film written by J.K. Rowling about a dark wizard who becomes a divisive leader in the magical world, said there are some similarities.

J.K. Rowling is ‘happy’ Johnny Depp was cast in Fantastic Beasts

The film is set in the Harry Potter universe and finds Depp’s character, Gellert Grindelwald, seeking to gain power and divide “pure-blood” wizards from humans in 1920s Paris.

“It’s shining a light … on things that have happened before [Trump] as well – how seductive and easy things can take a turn for the worse, and not just be specific to any one moment,” said Callum Turner, who plays Theseus, the older brother to Eddie Redmayne’s hero main character in the film.

“That’s the question. Why are we – people – being seduced in that way? What is it in the moment, in the zeitgeist, what is that? And that’s what is interesting about that – that’s the similarity. Not the person. The message.”

Katherine Waterston, who plays a magical law enforcement agent, says the villain crafted by the politically outspoken Rowling is more “subtle” than the real-life president.

“Every bad guy is more nuanced and subtle than Trump. He is like the most overt bad guy of all time,” she said. “But it’s amazing because [Rowling] was actually writing this long before the election happened – this chapter of the story. It’s interesting, actually – with brilliant people, if they’re paying attention to the way the world is going, they actually tend to predict the future. It really is, I think, from paying close attention. And she’s so politically active.”

Ezra Miller plays a mysterious character named Credence Barebone, whose powers include a destructive magical parasite. He says Grindelwald shares similarities to many leaders throughout history.

“I think it’s approaching universal themes … you look at all of the autocrats in all of history and be like, ‘Yup, they are all kind of that guy,’” Miller said. “There’s a period where they just convince everyone that they are on their team and they’re going to get them good jobs and it’s going to be awesome.

“That’s how tyranny works. At first they convince you that they have the right to rule you. And then they arm up and get it on. It’s a universal story.”

Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell enter Harry Potter’s world with Fantastic Beasts

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second of five planned movies in the franchise, opens in Hong Kong on November 15. It hits theatres in the US and UK on November 16.