Fantastic Beasts: Mads Mikkelsen Breaks Silence On Replacing Johnny Depp As Grindelwald

The Fantastic Beasts franchise is going through a transition period as Fantastic Beasts 3 chugs along through principal photography. Early last month, Johnny Depp relinquished the role of Gellert Grindelwald after Warner Bros asked him to resign. Just days later, it was reported that Hannibal actor Mads Mikkelsen was being eyed to replace Depp, and last week, it was officially confirmed that Mikkelsen will indeed be the new Grindelwald.

Now Mads Mikkelsen has commented about joining the Fantastic Beasts franchise, in the midst of plugging his latest movie, Another Round. When asked how his version of Gellert Grindelwald will differ from how Johnny Depp portrayed the character, Mikkelsen responded:

Well it's going to be me, so that's a difference. No, this is the tricky part. We're still working it out. There has to be a bridge between what Johnny did and what I'm going to do. And at the same time, I also have to make it my own. But also we have to find a few links [to the previous version of the character] and some bridges so it doesn't completely detach from what he's already masterfully achieved.

That definitely will be a tricky balance to reach. On the one hand, Mads Mikkelsen has to make sure that his take on Gellert Grindelwald is relatively similar to how Johnny Depp played the dark wizard rather than radically alter his persona. On the other hand, there still needs to be room for Mikkelsen to leave his own stamp on the character. So it’ll be interesting to see how the actor combines the best of most worlds, especially since he has to figure all this out in the midst of filming, as opposed to being able to prepare months before cameras start rolling.

Mads Mikkelsen will be the third actor to play Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts film series, as before we saw Johnny Depp debut in the character’s true form, Colin Farrell played him disguised as Percival Graves in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Grindelwald was previously plated as a younger and older man by Jamie Campbell Bower and Michael Byrne, respectively, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1. While Depp had only shot one scene for Fantastic Beasts 3 scene before exiting the movie, he will still be paid his full salary due to his “pay or play” contract.

During his interview with EW, Mads Mikkelsen also said the following about how he reacted to scoring the Gellert Grindelwald role under such dramatic circumstances:

Job wise, it's obviously super interesting and nice. It's also a shocker that it came after what happened, which is just super sad. I wish both of them the best. These are sad circumstances. I hope both of them will be back in the saddle again really soon.

With Fantastic Beasts 3 having been pushed to summer 2022 due to the Grindelwald recasting, as well as COVID-19-related complications, it’ll be a while until we get our first taste of Mads Mikkelsen in the role. However, if we’re lucky, maybe before Fantastic Beasts 3 wraps up filming, or shortly thereafter, Warner Bros will release a photo of Mikkelsen in character as an appetizer of what’s to come. This marks Mikkelsen’s fourth time participating in a blockbuster franchise, having previously appeared in Casino Royale (the James Bond film series), Doctor Strange (the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Rogue One (the Star Wars universe).

So far Mads Mikkelsen is the only new actor who’s been officially announced for Fantastic Beasts 3. The threequel’s returning faces include Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Jude Law, Callum Turner and Jessica Williams. David Yates is sitting back in the director’s chair once again, and J.K. Rowling co-wrote the script with Harry Potter film series veteran Steve Kloves.

Fantastic Beasts 3 will now work its magic in theaters on July 15, 2022, so keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates. Find out what movies are set to arrive next year in our 2021 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.