Jude Law on playing a wizard and returning to Hogwarts 2
On what Jude Law finds interesting about Dumbledore’s history: “There were so many facets to the possibilities and so many areas to mine that it was a wonderful part to accept and be a part of.”

Q&A: Jude Law on playing Albus Dumbledore and returning to Hogwarts

The star of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ talks about playing J.K. Rowling’s incomparable wizard and inhabiting that magical world.
ANCX Staff | Apr 11 2022

Warner Bros. Pictures recently shared with ANCX an interview with the star of the upcoming “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” Jude Law. The handsome thespian of both stage and movies sounds like he truly dug deep into the character of Albus Dumbledore, brilliant teacher and influential wizard in the British Wizarding Community, a character created by J.K. Rowling. In the interview, Law finds himself talking about working with co-actor Eddie Redmayne who plays Newt Scamander, and collaborating with his director David Yates. He also touches on stepping back into Hogwarts, and explains to us the essential Albus Dumbledore who, despite his overall jolly, positive personality is also still, like many of us, a work in progress. 

Q: We recently celebrated the 20th-year anniversary of the Wizarding World, and Albus Dumbledore is the only character in the films who has been there from the start. What qualities are constant and what qualities are different from the man we first met in the Harry Potter stories?

JUDE LAW: Looking at Dumbledore’s journey from beginning to end, what remains constant, I would guess, are his abilities to see the good in people, his mischievous quality, his good humor, his enjoyment of young and innocent magic, and approach to life. I think he is revitalized by the youth around him because it's sort of untarnished. But you get to see his regrets, I think, a little more earlier on. He’s still someone solving self-afflicted issues, someone who is still unpacking who he is in the world. There’s perhaps a quality of experience and wisdom that we see later on where those wrinkles have been ironed out.

Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore in the fantasy adventure “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbkedore”
Law on his character's quirks: "[Dumbledore] is still someone solving self-afflicted issues, someone who is still unpacking who he is in the world."

Q: He always seems to be a couple of steps ahead as well, right?

JUDE LAW: I think this idea that Albus Dumbledore is always a couple of steps ahead is a position he naturally finds himself in. One thing that I found very hard playing him was playing someone who is really seeing the world and the multiple dimensions and perspectives of the world and its possible outcomes all in one, effortlessly. It’s quite a hard thing to convey. Because Albus has that ability, which I suppose isolates him slightly. It can be a place of loneliness because you see everything ahead of everyone else. So it weighs on him somewhat. I guess it’s true to say that, later on, when we see him in the Harry Potter stories, he’s also learned how to settle into that ability.

Q: What appealed to you about delving into Dumbledore’s history?

JUDE LAW: There was so much to relish in a part whose future we already know. He’s already this much-loved, admired character in folk history. To be able to go backwards and understand how he put himself together, how he worked out a young man’s issues, a young man’s problems, and understand the path he took, or didn’t take, or fought to take to get him to the man that we know he became, is a gem for an actor because you know that journey’s going to be rich. I suppose there was also something wonderful about knowing that in his heart he had strength and a goodness that he was resolving. There were so many facets to the possibilities and so many areas to mine that it was a wonderful part to accept and be a part of.

Q: Did knowing his future make it easier for you or harder to develop where he came from in the beginning?

JUDE LAW: I would say the only elements that were harder were the expectations because Michael Gambon and Richard Harris had done such a wonderful job, and he had already become, as a character, so cemented and loved in people’s hearts. What was pleasant was knowing that I was getting to a place that was already appreciated.

Q: This film also delves into the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Can you expand on how what once brought them together has now turned them apart?

JUDE LAW: What brought Grindelwald and Dumbledore together at an earlier stage in their life was a like mind and a shared passion and excitement, I suppose, for what was possible with their abilities. I don’t think either had ever met a wizard who was as capable as the other. So suddenly, they were able to speak freely, think freely, and express themselves freely. Like many relationships from our past, they then changed, as we all do when we grow up, and their paths separated. The bond that they made in the blood troth was at a very specific point when they were both, let’s say, naive, ambitious, and unexperienced, and their philosophies, therefore, evolved in very different ways, into very different directions. So there’s this huge amount of regret from Dumbledore’s perspective that he has tied himself to someone who he sees now as holding a very dark perspective and creed. And yet, of course, he’s still connected to this person, and I think still holds him very dearly because of the relationship that they did share, the bond that they did share, but Grindelwald’s outlook doesn’t represent Dumbledore’s.

Q: You and Mads Mikkelsen both had to convey the relationship Dumbledore and Grindelwald once had and the connection that they still have. Can you talk about working with him on this film?

JUDE LAW: So working with Mads was, as with great actors, pretty straightforward because he arrived with great ideas and having done lots of work. We spent time discussing their past with our director, David Yates, so that we were all on the same page as to what had happened. Then to be true, the scenes really played themselves and you just imbue them with the intensity and the truth that you hope can convey the underlying architecture of these people. A lot of that work takes place on the day and it takes place in very small, meticulous, little details of how you play off each other, but you’ve done a lot of discussing before that.

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’
With Jessica Williams (as Eulalie “Lally” Hicks), Callum Turner (as Theseus Scamander), Fionna Glascott (as Minerva McGonagall), Dan Fogler (as Jacob Kowalski) and Eddie Redmayne (as Newt Scamander)

Q: It seems that in this film, Dumbledore is treating Newt more like an equal, giving him a position of leadership within the team. Can you talk about how their relationship has evolved?

JUDE LAW: Newt and Dumbledore’s relationship has evolved, but let’s not forget that in the first film, Newt was sent to New York on his own mission and has always been entrusted and believed in by Dumbledore. But at the same time, I guess it’s fair to say that, because Newt was a student of his, there is this teacher-pupil relationship, which you slowly see shifting to equal, but also friend. Certainly now, I think the two of them recognize a very special connection between each other and trust. For Dumbledore, I think, Newt’s incredible barometer of what is right and what is wrong and his natural tendency to choose what’s good is a really important element in his personality because obviously Dumbledore needs to know that someone isn’t going to sway, isn’t going to be misled and is, in real crunch moments, going to make the right choice. And with Newt, I think he just knows it’s implicit.

Q: And yet, he doesn’t tell him the full plan.

JUDE LAW: Well, the problem is he can’t tell him the full plan, so of course there also has to be trust. That’s something I think the two of them share. Even though Dumbledore can be infuriating because he doesn’t always explain everything, Newt trusts him enough to know that he has the overview, and he’s therefore willing, if you like, to jump out of the plane without a parachute. Not that he does that, but he would.

Q: Can you talk about working alongside Eddie on this second film together?

JUDE LAW: Working with Eddie is like spending time with an old friend. We worked together for the first time on the last film, but had known each other for many years and enjoy other’s company very much. He’s both great fun and very entertaining to be with, interested and interesting. And he’s also someone that takes it to another level when it comes to prep and being present and taking it seriously and creating a true environment. I like to think I’m kind of like that as well—that there’s fun, and then there’s also the work. You try and push the work as hard as you can and as far as you can because you want it to be good, you want it to be special.

Q: Dumbledore assembles an interesting team to try and stop Grindelwald, including a Muggle.

JUDE LAW: Everybody who Dumbledore recruits for this is someone he has to trust will react in a certain way in a given moment because only Dumbledore really knows what is going to happen. Everyone else is sent out blind. So, he has to know that each of them will make the right choice, but in the right way. They also will have a different skill set. Jacob, the Muggle, is kind of key to the whole thing. He has a sort of willful and spontaneous personality, and, as he says to him later in the story, he also has a full heart, a heart that sort of guides him. A lot of that all boils down, again, to Dumbledore being able to trust these individuals and know that they will eventually end up where he needs them to end up in order for the plan to come together.

Q: Why does Dumbledore send Jacob a wand and what do you think it symbolizes?

JUDE LAW: Well, I suppose Dumbledore giving Jacob the wand is first of all a symbol that he belongs in this team of witches and wizards. In a way, it’s also slightly cheeky; there’s a cheeky side to Dumbledore in that he offers Jacob a false sense of security, a false sense of power, which he knows will lead Jacob in a certain direction.

Q: From Harry to Newt, and now this group… How do you think Dumbledore gets people to risk their lives, carrying out these missions?

JUDE LAW: Ultimately, his aim always is that the right, the good, the honest choices are made. So he has to hope that he attracts and has the devotion of people who are led by what is right, what is good, and what is honest. He’s also someone who doesn’t necessarily go out and say, “You must do this.” He sets it up in such a way that people feel the need to do it because they know this is good, this is right, this is honest. What’s interesting is that all these people also go on a journey in which they discover their own honest, good, true self. So it’s a personal journey that is also for the greater good, and Dumbledore somehow manages to conduct all of that, without it feeling like, “You must do this for this person.” It’s like, “You’ve got to do this for yourself; it’s the right thing.” He’s someone who just seems to be able to attract that, but he’s also someone who’s out there doing it anyway. And I would say Dumbledore is persuasive because he guides the needle in yourself to be the better you, the stronger you, and the more honest you.

Q: There’s definitely a theme of family and of brothers in this film. Can you talk about Albus’s relationship with his brother, Aberforth?

JUDE LAW: There is a strong theme of family and brothers, and all the complications that go with that. Dumbledore’s journey to the sage that he becomes in the Harry Potter films, I think, is unearthing and facing the darker shadows of his relationship with his family, the regrets. That’s very much locked up in what The Secrets of Dumbledore is about. I don’t know that, when you find him at the beginning of the Fantastic Beast series, and certainly even in this new film, he thinks he’s a very good person. I think he believes he’s a bit of a monster, really, because of things that have happened, particularly between him and his brother. There’s always love between Aberforth and Dumbledore. It’s not that it’s gone that far, this kind of crevice between them. But there’s a lot between them. First of all, you’ve got to remember that Albus, as the older brother, was this outstanding wizard from the beginning. Aberforth was always, probably, in his shadow. So there’s that, which let’s call it brotherly, fraternal jealousy, I suppose. Then added to that, Dumbledore’s decisions in his youth have really caused a wound that has affected the whole family, particularly these two brothers. The relationship with Aberforth is one of the main wrinkles, if you like, that needs ironing out in Dumbledore’s past.

Q: David Yates has been at the helm of the Wizarding World films since Harry Potter. Can you talk about your collaboration?

JUDE LAW: Well, David is a sort of compass now of the whole Wizarding World. He’s so entrenched and has such a sort of innate sense of what’s right, whether it’s the humor, whether it’s the pathos, whether it’s the visuals, the magic, the battles. He’s the sage on the set that you lean into. He still has this very boyish enthusiasm and energy that’s very infectious.

With Richard Coyle, who plays Aberforth
On Dumbledore's relationship with his brother Aberforth: "[It's] one of the main wrinkles, if you like, that needs ironing out in Dumbledore’s past," says Law. 

Q: There is a climactic moment in the movie with Dumbledore and Credence. Can you just speak a little bit about shooting that battle with him?

JUDE LAW: First of all, what was really quite brilliant on the VFX department’s side was that they decided Dumbledore would take Credence into this sort of mirror world so that any destruction or violence that they wreak with each other doesn’t affect the Muggle world. Then on top of that, there’s this fantastic battle and I think it will be exciting for people to finally see Dumbledore in action. There was also this unusual kind of contrast between the desire to destroy from Credence and the desire to protect from Dumbledore. It makes for quite an interesting dance.

Q: The film spans the globe more than any of the Wizarding World films, and yet, it was all built at Leavesden. What it was like to step into these worlds, especially returning to Hogwarts?

JUDE LAW: The detail in every department on every level is really astonishing on these films. It’s a total dream for actors because you just step on and you don’t have to do an awful lot of imagination. It’s all there with trams and cars and shop fronts or vistas and views, whatever. And we jumped through various cities around the world at various times, and it’s just a real treat. Being on something this scale is very rewarding. It’s also a lot of fun. Going back to Hogwarts is always very interesting because it’s full of youngsters who are wizards or witches for the day. Obviously for them, the excitement level is extraordinary, so you kind of feed off their electricity. In this film we see the streets of London. We go to Hogwarts. We go to the streets of Berlin and the Ministry at Berlin, and then we go to Bhutan in the Himalayas. So, we’re all over the place in cities, in the thick of nature, and all the sets are just extraordinary.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” premieres in Philippine theaters on Black Saturday, April 16. The film will be distributed worldwide in select theatres and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Photos © 2022 Warner Bros. Ent.