The flip from Farrell's Percival Graves, the dashing turncoat who wielded a repressed wizard's violent "obscurus" to kill hundreds and hunt down a prophesied child, to Gellert Grindelwald, a sunbaked Mortdecai, is a needed jolt for a franchise expected to carry four more films. As Depp never shares the screen with Redmayne or Waterston -- he is hauled away by authorities in front of them, and even shouts "Do you really think you can hold me?" in Newt's face, but it's edited very deliberately -- I had to ask director David Yates: Was Grindelwald always the nefarious through line for the series?
"Grindelwald was always present," Yates insists. "Right at the beginning, right to the very end." The director says the possibility of telling Newt and Grindelwald's stories sucked Rowling back into Potter's world. "Jo's appetite for expanding the narrative came out purely from writing the screenplays. She was writing the first screenplays and said, 'You know what? I know it's a trilogy, but for films two and three, I'm going to just arc out the story and someone else can write them.' But then, two-thirds of the way through writing the first screenplay, she said, 'I'm really enjoying this. I'm going to write the second one. And probably the third one.' Now we're on the second screenplay at the moment, and halfway through that screenplay now, she said, 'You know what, guys, as I'm writing this, I can see this story moving through to five. I can just feel it. This is how it works.' So the process of making the movies is inspiring her to sort of develop a longer narrative arc, and to be fully involved with developing and creating that."