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Could Johnny Depp Return To Fantastic Beasts After Legal Victory Over Amber Heard? Here's What His Replacement Mads Mikkelsen Thinks

Johnny Depp and Mads Mikkelsen side by side as Grindelwald
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s legal battle has been ongoing for years, and neither actor’s teams are showing any signs of slowing down. The Pirates of the Caribbean actor came out the victor when their defamation case’s verdict was revealed, and he’s been keeping busy with music and returning to acting projects. But could Depp return to the Fantastic Beasts franchise after his legal victory over Heard? Here's what his replacement Mads Mikkelsen thinks.

Johnny Depp was asked by Warner Bros. to step down from his role as the villainous Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise after losing his libel case against the U.K. publication The Sun. Mads Mikkelsen was brought in to replace him in The Secrets of Dumbledore, but fans have been wondering if Depp might return to the role now that he’s been seemingly vindicated in court opposite Amber Heard. Mikkelsen was asked about this possibility during an interview with Deadline, responding with:

It was very intimidating. Obviously, well, now the course has changed—he won the suit, the court [case]—so let’s see if he comes back. He might.

Well, there you have it. It looks like Mads Mikkelsen seems to be considering the possibility that Johnny Depp will return to play Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 4. This would be a wild turn of events, although there’s a major barrier in the way of Depp’s return: the fourth movie hasn’t actually been confirmed by Warner Bros. just yet.

Mads Mikkelsen’s comments to Deadline are from his recent appearance at the Sarajevo Film Festival, where the conversation eventually turned to his debut in the Wizarding World as Grindelwald. And rather than feeling competitive about Johnny Depp or desperate to keep the role, the Hannibal actor acknowledged that things have changed, and Depp could be back. We’ll just have to see if this twist happens behind the scenes.

Later during that same interview, Mads Mikkelsen explained what it was like taking on the mantle as Grindelwald from Johnny Depp. This included his work as an actor, as well as his interactions with hardcore Harry Potter fans that might not have been thrilled about the way he joined the Wizarding World. As he put it,

I’m a big fan of Johnny. I think he’s an amazing actor, I think he did a fantastic job. Having said that, I could not copy it. There’s there was no way I could just copy it, because it’s so much him. It would be creative suicide. So, we had to come up with something else, something that was mine, and build a bridge between him and me. So, yes, it was intimidating. His fans were very, very sweet, but they were also very stubborn. I didn’t interact too much with them, but I could understand why they had their hearts broken.

Johnny Depp’s firing from the Wizarding World came as Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore had just begun filming. Mads Mikkelsen was quickly brought in as a replacement, and he definitely brought something new to the franchise’s main antagonist. The movie didn’t make any mention of this change in the character’s appearance, so could it happen again with Depp returning to the role? Only time will tell.

Fantastic Beasts: the Secrets of Dumbledore is currently streaming on HBO Max. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.