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Dumbledore Won’t Be Explicitly Gay in Fantastic Beasts 2—but Why?

Dumbledore Won’t Be Explicitly Gay in Fantastic Beasts 2—but Why?


When the cast for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was first announced, with Jude Law set to play a younger, hotter Dumbledore, fans grew excited, imagining boundless possibilities for this dashing new version of the character. Could the film, perhaps, even include a glimpse at the future Hogwarts headmaster’s romantic life—a subject left open-ended by the original Harry Potter books, though J.K. Rowling confirmed after completing the series that Dumbledore was gay?

Well, no. Director David Yates has revealed that for now, Dumbledore’s sexuality will not make it to screen—at least, “not explicitly.”

“But I think all the fans are aware of that,” Yates continued, speaking to Entertainment Weekly. “He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology, and each other.”

Rowling previously teased the idea that eventually, one of the five planned Fantastic Beasts films will address Dumbledore’s sexuality—but it’s unclear when, or how. “Well, I can’t tell you everything I would like to say because this is obviously a five-part story, so there’s lots to unpack in that relationship,” she said at a press conference in 2016. “I will say that you will see Dumbledore as a younger man, and quite a troubled man because he wasn’t always the sage. He was always very clever, but we’ll see what I think was the formative period of his life. As far as his sexuality is concerned, watch the space.” Rowling responded to the recent controversy on Twitter, complaining that she’d been “sent abuse about an interview that didn’t involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read, which is part of a five-movie series that’s only one instalment in.”

What, exactly, are fans to make of this? Rowling first announced that Dumbledore was gay in 2007, while promoting the final book in her original series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. As she put it to one fan who asked if Dumbledore had ever fallen in love, “I always thought of Dumbledore as gay.” Three Harry Potter films were released after this announcement, but none of them made explicit mention of Dumbledore’s sexuality—understandably, perhaps, since their source material didn’t either. As of now, Dumbledore’s romantic life has been purely the stuff of fan fiction—and apparently, it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

This approach speaks to a frustrating trend in blockbuster movies, one exemplified by recent films like Power Rangers and Beauty and the Beast. Both movies made headlines by teasing story lines involving explicitly gay characters—or, in the case of Beauty and the Beast, an “exclusively gay moment.” When the movies actually made it to theaters, though, those much-touted scenes amounted to little more than throwaway moments that felt divorced from the rest of the story—blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fragments, rather than true examples of much-needed L.G.B.T. representation. There’s something cynical about explicitly telling L.G.B.T. fans to look out for L.G.B.T. characters—then responding to their attention (and ticket purchases) with weak feints at inclusion, or nothing at all.

Although TV continues to make great strides in this arena, film has lagged far behind—and few franchises make that more readily apparent than Fantastic Beasts. Obviously, it’s wrong to write a film off without having seen it—but at the same time, it’s only natural for some fans to feel disappointment at this Dumbledore news. Legions of moviegoers are tired of being teased with the possibility of L.G.B.T. characters, only to have the prospect unceremoniously yanked out from under them. The first Fantastic Beasts already hinged on an obvious gay liberation metaphor involving Ezra Miller’s character, Credence. Why, then, should it bother being coy about Dumbledore’s personal life—especially in a film that essentially pits the character against his terrible ex-boyfriend?

Marketing divisions seem to have figured out already that representation often helps a film’s bottom line; how long will it take for writers and filmmakers to follow suit?

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Full ScreenPhotos:Daniel Radcliffe’s Quirky Post-Harry Potter Projects: An Appreciation
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The Woman in Black (2012)

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Photo: From CBS Films/Everett Collection.

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A Young Doctor’s Notebook (2012-2013)

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Photo: From AF Archive/Alamy.

*Kill Your Darlings* (2013)

Kill Your Darlings (2013)

In this period flick, Radcliffe took his first movie-length stab at an American accent, playing a younger version of the beloved beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Although his role entailed a much-discussed gay sex scene, Radcliffe said the hardest part was “hitting all those big emotional beats,” and crying when the script called for it.

Photo: By Clay Enos/Sony Pictures/Everett Collection.

*What If* (2014)

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Photo: By Caitlin Cronenberg/CBS Films/Everett Collection.

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Swiss Army Man (2016)

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Photo: Courtesy of A24.

*Now You See Me 2* (2016)

Now You See Me 2 (2016)

In Now You See Me 2, Radcliffe did a total 180 from the Potterverse by playing the skeptic within another franchise’s magical universe—a reversal that Radcliffe himself told Vanity Fair he hadn’t even thought about.

“The people I admire are always the people that manage to mix it up and do both: do super commercial stuff, and do super weird indies as well,” Radcliffe said. “And that’s kind of the career I want for myself.”

A highlight from that experience, Radcliffe added, was working with Michael Caine, whose achievements and reputation he called “the Everest of my own personal aspiration.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate.

*Imperium* (2016)

Imperium (2016)

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Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate.

<em>The Woman in Black</em> (2012)

The Woman in Black (2012)

This British period horror flick was Radcliffe’s first major outing post-Potter. Radcliffe starred as Arthur Kipps, a lawyer dealing with the loss of his wife who soon finds himself dealing with a supernatural threat—the titular woman in black. The movie made £14 million in its first three weeks at its home box office, a record U.K. opening for a British horror film.

From CBS Films/Everett Collection.

<em>A Young Doctor’s Notebook</em> (2012-2013)

A Young Doctor’s Notebook (2012-2013)

It’s not often you get to see Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe hang out in a bathtub together, so if nothing else, A Young Doctor’s Notebook gave that to the world. Radcliffe played the titular young doctor to Hamm’s older doctor in this delightfully zany series, which was largely well received by critics and ran for two seasons.

From AF Archive/Alamy.

<em>Kill Your Darlings</em> (2013)

Kill Your Darlings (2013)

In this period flick, Radcliffe took his first movie-length stab at an American accent, playing a younger version of the beloved beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Although his role entailed a much-discussed gay sex scene, Radcliffe said the hardest part was “hitting all those big emotional beats,” and crying when the script called for it.

By Clay Enos/Sony Pictures/Everett Collection.

<em>What If</em> (2014)

What If (2014)

By far Radcliffe’s warmest, fuzziest role came in this rom-com, which finds Radcliffe’s character Wallace falling in love with a girl named Chantry (Zoe Kazan). This part, like so many others in Radcliffe’s career, involved his bare butt—which was a little too much to handle for some fans who still remembered him as Harry Potter. But overall, the movie—and Radcliffe—were insistently adorable.

By Caitlin Cronenberg/CBS Films/Everett Collection.

<em>Horns</em> (2014)

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Horns wasn’t quite as earnest as The Woman in Black; it was a horror comedy that found Radcliffe suddenly growing horns after his girlfriend gets murdered. Radcliffe had shown off his comedic chops before—both in the Potter movies and in his guest appearance on the The Simpsons—but this was his first dedicated shot at a comedic role. His delivery wasn’t as charismatic as it would be in future movies like Now You See Me 2, but practice, as they say. . .

By Doane Gregory/Dimension Films/Everett Collection.

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From Abaca USA/AKM-GSI.

<em>Victor Frankenstein</em> (2015)

Victor Frankenstein (2015)

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By Alex Bailey/20th Century Fox/Everett Collection.

<em>Swiss Army Man</em> (2016)

Swiss Army Man (2016)

Yes, the legendary “farting corpse movie.” This film co-starring Paul Dano was an immediate enigma for those who heard about it outside of Sundance: it inspired both standing ovations and walk-outs. But it’s visually enchanting, with a warm message that resonated with many viewers. Radcliffe plays Manny, a cheerful, naïve corpse whom Dano’s character Hank must teach to be human again. The two have great chemistry, and their adventure together is a gaseous odyssey for the ages.

Courtesy of A24.

<em>Now You See Me 2</em> (2016)

Now You See Me 2 (2016)

In Now You See Me 2, Radcliffe did a total 180 from the Potterverse by playing the skeptic within another franchise’s magical universe—a reversal that Radcliffe himself told Vanity Fair he hadn’t even thought about.

“The people I admire are always the people that manage to mix it up and do both: do super commercial stuff, and do super weird indies as well,” Radcliffe said. “And that’s kind of the career I want for myself.”

A highlight from that experience, Radcliffe added, was working with Michael Caine, whose achievements and reputation he called “the Everest of my own personal aspiration.”

Courtesy of Lionsgate.

<em>Imperium</em> (2016)

Imperium (2016)

This upcoming thriller finds Radcliffe’s character, an F.B.I. agent named Nate Foster, seemingly in over his head as he attempts to infiltrate a white-supremacist group to stop them from making a bomb. The first trailer was pretty intense, and now fans can finally see whether Nate pulls off the undercover gig—or gets himself killed trying.

Courtesy of Lionsgate.

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