SAN DIEGO – The presentation for the magical sequel "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" featured a new trailer, light-up wristbands and even an appearance by Johnny Depp in creepy character as villain Gellert Grindelwald.
The hottest topic of the discussion, though, was young Albus Dumbledore – or as moderator Aisha Tyler calls Jude Law, "hot Dumbledore."
The elderly Hogwarts headmaster from the "Harry Potter" films is comparatively fresh-faced in "Fantastic Beasts," which is set in the late 1920s. Evil wizard Grindelwald is getting a villainous squad together to head to Paris and continue his attack on nonmagical folks (called No-Maj or Muggles, depending on where you are), and Dumbledore, the Hogwarts teacher of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), convinces his former student to be an important line of defense against the dark arts.
In one of the craziest parts of the panel, Depp (as Grindelwald) startled the crowd with a surprise appearance, and arrived with speech prepared. "It has been said that I hate the Muggles, the No-Maj, the Can't-Spells. I do not hate them," he said. "I say the Muggles are not lesser. Not worthless, but of other value. Magic blooms only in rare souls. It is granted to those who live for higher things.”
He ended with saying, "The moment has come to rise up and take our rightful place in the world," before disappearing into the shadows as the lights went out.
"It’s very much a 'Whose side are you on?' story," Law said of the film. "The Muggle world and the wizarding world are somewhat pitching against each other, but also the wizards within the wizarding world are asked 'What side of the line do they choose to join?' Everything’s at stake, really. I’d say the depths and the darkness of this story are possibly the darkest this world has plumbed."
As for his age in the new "Beast" film, written by "Potter" creator J.K. Rowling, Law revealed that his Dumbledore is "a very spritely 45. I love the fact that he’s called young Dumbledore, because I’m 45 and I’m not feeling very young anymore. So I’m holding on to that term."
Some familiar character traits carry over from the older Dumbledore portrayed by the late Richard Harris and Michael Gambon to Law's take. "He’s still mischievous (and) manipulative. And he’s got secrets. There are chasms to him and all those will be explained over time," Law said.
"You’ve got to remember that the Dumbledore we all know and love from the 'Potter' films is nearly 100 years old so there’s a long way to go," Law added. "And of course, over those years he develops a penchant for caftans and he loses his razor along the way. I’m happy that all that is yet to come."
Redmayne gushed about continuing to live in Rowling's universe: "It’s a hell of a lot of fun. When you get to swim in this world, it feels like one of the great cryptive and imaginative privileges."
But things got a little political when a young fan asked the cast how they would use real magic. "Impeach Trump," said Zoe Kravitz defiantly, with co-star Dan Fogler whipping up a quick spell: "Impeachus maximus!"