Many actors have taken on the role of Gellert Grindelwald throughout the course of the Harry Potter franchise, especially as Fantastic Beasts brought him into the spotlight. Each iteration of the infamous wizard Gellert Grindelwald has been wildly different from the other with each actor bringing their own flavor to the role. Gellert Grindelwald is mentioned a few times throughout the Harry Potter books, but his first official introduction was in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book as an old ‘friend’ hidden in Dumbledore’s past.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it is revealed that Grindelwald and Dumbledore were extremely close in the past and together had planned to bring the wizarding world out of the shadows and subdue the non-magical population. Dumbledore eventually realized the error in this plan after the death of sister Ariana and distances himself from Grindelwald. Grindelwald went ahead with his plan but was eventually stopped by Dumbledore in a grand duel. This backstory would become one of the storylines explored in the Fantastic Beasts prequel series.
Throughout the years, Grindelwald has been played by five different actors, some appearing in the original Harry Potter series, others in the Fantastic Beasts series. Some performances were cameos while others only appear in flashbacks. However, some actors who took on the role got to fully embrace the role of the famed dark wizard. Here is a breakdown of all the actors who have played Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films.
Jamie Campbell Bower
Jaime Campbell Bower was the first actor to step into the role of Grindelwald and the actor who has remained the most consistent throughout both franchises. He first took on the role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 as a young Gellert Grindelwald in photographs and flashbacks. Grindelwald’s backstory with Dumbledore is briefly explored, but the film puts more focus on Grindelwald’s connection to the Elder Wand instead. He physically looks as Grindelwald is described in the books with haunting good looks that draw people to him. While Jamie Campbell Bower’s appearance is reduced to non-speaking in Deathly Hallows, he still manages to set up the character so audiences can understand the kind of person he was with his looming presence while in photographs with a young Dumbledore as well as his agile movements while stealing the Elder Wand.
Bower later reprised the role in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Once again, his role was kept to flashbacks as Jude Law’s Dumbledore thinks back on when he and Grindelwald created a blood pact so they could never harm one another. The scene is one of few that show Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship in way that suggests they were involved romantically, with them interlocking their hands and staring into one another’s eyes. The appearance of Bower’s version of Grindelwald is also updated with him now having heterochromia, the condition of having two different colored eyes, which was added for the Fantastic Beasts films.