Why Mads Mikkelsen Is Fantastic Beasts’ Perfect Grindelwald Replacement

Mads Mikkelsen is apparently in negotiations to replace Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3 — here’s why he’s the perfect candidate.

Recent Fantastic Beasts 3 news has suggested that Mads Mikkelsen is a front runner to replace Johnny Depp as Grindelwald — here’s why it’s the right decision and he’d be perfect. Based on J.K. Rowling’s popular guide book of the same name, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them followed the spawling Harry Potter saga as the next corner of the Wizarding World to become a cinematic franchise. Set decades before Harry’s birth and miraculous survival story, the film centered on Eddie Redmayne’s Newton “Newt” Scamander, a “magizoologist” hunting down some accidentally released magical creatures. Ultimately, however, Newt became embroiled in a plot by the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald that revolved around a creature known as an Obscurus.

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Written by Rowling and directed by David Yates, the first of four planned sequels was released in 2018. Titled Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the film saw Johnny Depp step fully into the villainous role after a brief cameo in the first installment.  Despite the best efforts of Newt, a younger Dumbledore (Jude Law), and several allies, Grindelwald was able to escape imprisonment and further his tyrannical plans for the world — retconning what was previously known about Dumbledore in the process. In November 2020, however, it was revealed that Depp would not return for the delayed outing in 2022. The decision divided fans, with some calling for Depp to be reinstated and others believing Colin Farrell should return (having previously played Grindelwald’s Percival Graves disguise).

Related: Why Fantastic Beasts 3 Removed Johnny Depp As Grindelwald

Warners Bros seems to have other ideas, however, with Mikkelsen already in talks to replace Depp as Grindelwald. It remains to be seen whether or not the Danish actor will officially sign on. Whatever the case, there is just no denying that he would be a perfect choice for the role. For starters, no matter which side of the fence one sits on regarding the situation surrounding Depp, the last thing any studio would want is one of their films overshadowed by an actor’s very public court battles. It would appear Depp himself has graciously acknowledged and accepted this fact. Mikkelsen is, conversely, entirely baggage-free. Furthermore, Mikkelsen has, in recent years, become an almost universally beloved figure. As a result, his casting will no doubt bring a wave of passionate support to the project — with some non-Harry Potter fans likely even paying attention, merely because of his involvement.

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Much of Mikkelsen’s fervent support has come for his three-season turn as Hannibal Lecter on Bryan Fuller’s NBC series, Hannibal. It’s this very role, in fact, that further supports just how perfect the actor’s casting would be. Unlike the outwardly inhuman Voldemort, Grindelwald is designed to be a more compelling and charismatic villain. Grindelwald is a character that can win followers to his side with more than just fear — and even managed to captivate Albus Dumbledore. In playing Hannibal Lecter, Mikkelsen proved that he could deliver such a charming monster in his sleep. And if Mikkelsen can translate even one percent of the chemistry he had with Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham to his scenes with Law’s Dumbledore, the tension (subtextual and otherwise) would be off the charts.

Equally, Mikkelsen recently played the villainous Kaecilius in the MCU’s Phase Three adventure, Doctor Strange. As such, he has a very specific experience that would lend itself to bringing the iconic magical duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald to life in spectacular fashion. Plus, further separating him from Voldemort, who simply doesn’t care about right or wrong, Grindelwald largely believes he is doing the right thing. Though his goals also include world domination, he also showed an aim to avoid his people being caught up and losing their lives in such future events as World War II. Kaecilius similarly believed in the perceived greater good of his aim. Mikkelsen could just as effortlessly add the same kind of nuanced complexity that Depp afforded the role, while also, as seen with taking on Hannibal Lecter after Anthony Hopkins, make the role entirely his own. As such, with Farrell apparently unavailable to play Grindelwald, everybody involved in bringing Fantastic Beasts 3 to life really need not look any further.

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Updated: November 11, 2020 — 1:33 pm

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