Last week the news broke that Warner Bros. had asked the beleaguered Johnny Depp to step down from his role of Gellert Grindelwald in the third Fantastic Beasts movie. At the time, I wrote that the studio had to hustle if they wanted to find a replacement in time considering production is already underway.
I also suggested Warner Bros. turn to Colin Farrell, who had done an excellent job of playing Grindelwald in disguise through the first movie, but it would appear the studio has another actor in their sights, and I’m not mad at all about their choice. Deadline is reporting that the studio has its eye on Mads Mikkelsen to replace Depp as the franchise’s big bad. According to them, he is director David Yates’ top choice for the gig and is currently in talks with the studio about it. Whatever talks are happening, they have to progress quickly considering the fact the third film was meant to have equal screen time split between Depp, Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law and the latter two are already filming. Though it’s likely most of Depp’s scenes would have not been opposite either of those two, talks for his replacement still need to get their hustle on, so expect us to know shortly whether or not Mikkelsen signs or passes.
Regardless, Mikkelsen is a great choice for a replacement. Mikkelsen, who most recently wrapped reshoots on Doug Liman’s long-delayed Chaos Walking, is one of the most interesting actors working today. I’d even argue he’s an upgrade and will bring something new to the role of Gellert Grindelwald. For starters, thanks to his background as a dancer and acrobat, Mikkelsen brings an elegance and a graceful fluidity to his physicality. It’s a grace that he can turn in a moment to a pointed menace, as we’ve seen from his long run playing Hannibal Lecter on Hannibal and as villain Kaecilius in Doctor Strange. Don’t get me wrong, Depp has been good in his career, at times even great, but this is a role Mikkelsen feels born to.
An anecdote from that latter project reveals another aspect of Mikkelsen that will make him a great addition to the shoot that’s already underway: How fast he learns. During the time of the promo campaign for the movie’s release, both Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson and co-writer C. Robert Cargill told a story about Mikkelsen’s uncanny prowess on set. During one fight scene, Derrickson wanted Mikkelsen to turn his knives a certain way so the light would reflect off the blades. He showed him once, and from that point on, Mikkelsen proceeded to hit his mark every single time, take after take. The speed at which he learns bodes well considering he’ll have to jump into the production and hit the ground running.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3 will now hit theaters in the summer of 2022.