Fantastic Beasts 3’s Mads Mikkelsen Shares Thoughts On J.K. Rowling Controversy And The Backlash She’s Received

Mads Mikkelsen in the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts 3.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Fantastic Beasts 3 otherwise known as The Secrets of Dumbledore is set to hit the 2022 movie release schedule this month. The movie’s making, however, has been mired in setbacks and controversy including COVID delays, Johnny Depp’s exit as Grindelwald and Mads Mikkelsen’s addition as the same character, and backlash toward J.K. Rowling online about her reported transgender insensitivity. Now that press is moving forward for the new Beasts movie, Mikkelsen was asked to share his thoughts on the matter. 

The newcomer in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, recently open up about the upcoming movie, which means he was asked about a variety of topics, both on topic to and tangentially related to the Wizarding World. One of those topics was the ongoing discourse and backlash from some fans online over previous  J.K. Rowling tweets about the transgender community. Mads’ input? He’d rather not open his mouth without feeling like he has all the facts, telling GQ:

People treat it a little flippantly, like, ‘Isn’t that a disgrace?’ And every time you ask somebody, you can’t really figure out what she said. But if the reaction is that crazy, we have to be very careful that we know what we’re talking about. … I have a habit of not commenting on things that I don’t know anything about, and I actually think that that would suit the entire world.

Mads Mikkelsen is not the first person related to Fantastic Beasts who has shared thoughts following a series of tweets J.K. Rowling posted back in 2020. Eddie Redmayne commented about respect for transgender people” noting it “remains a cultural imperative.” Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe also said in a longer statement of support for the LGBTQIA+ community that “transgender women are women.” Emma Watson also spoke out about the transgender community, believing those within “deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned.” As celebrities spoke out, there was additional backlash online. 

What Did J.K. Rowling Say Leading To Harry Potter And Fantastic Beasts Fan Backlash? 

The author of such works as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone here on this side of the pond) initially responded to a headline that had the words “People who menstruate” in it to insinuate that a short time ago that headline probably would have read “women.” She then responded to her initial comment, saying on Twitter:

If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.

In a separate tweet, the book and screenplay author also said: 

I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.

There are a full series of tweets on this topic that Rowling got into in June of 2020 and that can still be found on her social media account. J.K. Rowling then followed these comments up in a separate post about her “reasons for speaking out on sex and gender issues,” which again caused backlash online, with some follow-up tweets criticizing the author racking up thousands of likes. In the time since, Fantastic Beasts has moved on and readied for its big premiere this month, but the controversy has lingered.

Back To Mads Mikkelsen's Casting In Fantastic Beasts 3

In the case of Mads Mikkelsen, it’s worth noting he only came into the Fantastic Beasts franchise long after these events happened. Mikkelsen was signed on by Warner Bros. after the franchise actor lost his famous libel case in the U.K. and Johnny Depp ultimately stepped down from the role of Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. It was months after Rowling’s online opinions were voiced that Mads joined the Fantastic Beasts cast on set for the first time. He’s already having to respond a lot about taking over for Johnny Depp, and it seems like this other point is not something he’s particularly keen to dive into.

Though he did note he, in particular, tries to avoid social media given he “suck[s] at it,”  he also doesn’t want to be a part of polarizing debates, noting:  

It’s as if we want to have either-or… If that gap becomes too big, then we just stop talking.

What he is keen to talk about is the role of Grindelwald, which he may have inherited, but many believe was a great tradeoff, as reviews about Mads Mikkelsen's performance have been compared to Johnny Depp's, and positively reviewed. Mikkelsen admits that even with two more movies in the Fantastic Beasts franchise planned, he's unsure what the future holds, though he feels they will "need Grindelwald back." This may be good news, as early reviews for The Secrets of Dumbledore have been more positive overall than The Crimes of Grindelwald

After delays, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore hits theaters in the U.S. on April 15. 

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.