Fantastic Beasts Star Mads Mikkelsen Shares His Honest Take On How He Ended Up As Grindelwald After Johnny Depp’s High Profile Exit

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

The Harry Potter brand has been a mainstay in pop culture for decades, and is showing no signs of slowing down. On the big screen, the Harry Potter movies have been expanded thanks to David Yates’ Fantastic Beasts franchise. Actor Mads Mikkelsen recently shared his honest take on how he ended up as Grindelwald after Johnny Depp’s high profile exit.

Shortly after photography for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore began, actor Johnny Depp was asked to step down from his role as antagonist Grindelwald. Actor Mads Mikkelsen was brought in to replace him (resulting in some pushback), and put his own spin on the magical villain. With the threequel just days away from its release, the Rogue One actor explained to GQ what it was like jumping into the role. As he put it,

Obviously there was a situation that had to be solved overnight…They were just panicking.

Honestly, that makes a great deal of sense. The road to Fantastic Beasts 3’s release has been a bumpy one, with the movie delayed over a year as a result of the COVID-19. So when principal photography was finally beginning, losing the movie’s villain had the potential to shut the movie down. Luckily Warner Bros. was able to find a replacement in the form of one Mads Mikkelsen. And critics seem to have responded to his take on Grindelwald. 

Johnny Depp was fired so suddenly from the Fantastic Beasts franchise after he lost his libel case against the U.K. publication The Sun. Depp was suing after a story referred to him as a “wife beater”, and his loss in court immediately resulted in Warner Bros. asking him to step down as Grindelwald. 

Later in that same interview, Mads Mikkelseon explained how he approached the role of Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3. Rather than trying to do an impression of Johnny Depp, the 56 year-old actor instead put his own spin on the magical villain. As Mikkelson explained,

To copy him would be creative suicide…We had to make it our own.

Funny enough, Mads Mikkelson is technically the third actor to play Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. At the end of the first movie it was revealed that Colin Farrel’s Percival Graves was actually Grindelwald in disguise the whole time. Johnny Depp appeared only briefly, before having an expanded role in Fantastic Beasts 2. But Grindelwald 3.0 will appear in The Secret of Dumbledore, with Mikkelsen wielding the Elder Wand.

Luckily for Harry Potter fans, the extended wait for Fantastic Beasts 3 is nearly over. We’re just days away from the movie’s release, and the debut of Mads Mikkelsen’s version of Grindelwald. With two more movies originally planned for the franchise, hopefully we’ll see the actor really dig his heels into the role moving forward.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore will hit theaters on April 15th. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movies 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 favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.