Mads Mikkelsen replaces Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, and the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer proves Mads Mikkelsen is an even better version of the character. Johnny Depp’s interpretation of the character was simply too out of place in the world of the Harry Potter prequels, but Mads Mikkelsen makes the villain more complex and believable. This is a chance for the series to reintroduce and reinvent Grindelwald.
In the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer, Mads Mikkelson’s Grindelwald makes his motivations clear. He plans to take over the entirety of the Wizarding World with his global movement, and not even Dumbledore will stand in his way. To him, Muggles and No-Maj’s are inferior, though he’s careful not to relay his true intentions out loud. Rather, he relies on his powers of persuasion to bring anyone and everyone he can over to his side- like Queenie Goldstein. Similar to Voldemort, he believes that magical beings are superior, and so they belong in seats of ultimate power.
The question, “why did they recast Grindelwald” is on everyone’s minds since Johnny Depp left the Fantastic Beasts series, after appearing as the titular villain in the first two movies. It’s true that there’s a ten-year jump between The Crimes of Grindelwald and The Secrets of Dumbledore, but that has nothing to do with why Depp was recast with Mads Mikkelson. Based on the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer, the Hannibal actor is already doing a better job than Johnny Depp did. Mads plays Grindelwald with a subtle intensity, proving that there’s a dangerous villain simmering beneath the surface. Every action has intent behind it, and Mikkelson’s version of the silver-tongued manipulator already exudes a deadly seriousness. Here’s why Mads Mikkelson is a better Grindelwald than Johnny Depp.
Why Mads Mikkelsen Is A Better Grindelwald Than Johnny Depp
Mads Mikkelson’s Grindelwald is a far cry from Johnny Depp’s characterization of the villain – and this is for the best. Though Depp is a talented actor in his own right, he never quite got down the power of persuasion necessary to play the character. The Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer sees Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald being carried through the streets by his own followers like some kind of god, and only Mikkelsen can pull this off. It’s true that Grindelwald’s speech in The Crimes of Grindelwald was compelling, but imagining Mads taking on the call to action would’ve proven better results. Mikkelsen has a quiet intensity that Depp lacks, and where Depp brings quirk to the character, the former brings true menace.
Ralph Fiennes played Lord Voldemort as a flashy, perhaps even flamboyant character with an evil laugh and snake-like face in the Harry Potter movies. Fiennes’ choices worked for Harry’s young adventures and the movies’ epic battles between good and evil, but the Fantastic Beasts series has a completely different tone. First, it places Newt Scamander as its main protagonist and, unlike Harry, Newt is an adult already sure of himself and his place in the world. He and his companions are not in a coming-of-age story, and the Wizarding World is no longer a place of awe and mystery. This is one of the main pillars behind Grindelwald’s recasting.
Instead, the Fantastic Beasts series gives audiences a far more serious and down-to-earth world of bleak themes such as prejudice, societal strife, and the rise of fascism. Even the outfits and the color palette of the movies signal a more mature tone. But Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald felt different. From his looks to his acting, he appears out of place and even somewhat cartoonish. Depp is known for playing unique, eccentric characters, but Grindelwald was never meant to be eccentric, so he feels like a less interesting version of Voldemort. This is why Mads Mikkelson’s Grindelwald is better than Johnny Depp’s.
Why Was Grindelwald Recast As Mads Mikkelsen
The main reason for Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald’s recasting involves Depp’s personal life. While at first J.K. Rowling and company stood behind Depp when criticisms about his personal life came to light, the public outcry forced Warner Bros.’ hand. The controversy surrounding Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s relationship had reached a boiling point, and their court case became extremely messy and toxic. While many called for Depp’s removal, others supported Depp and instead focused their vitriol on Heard. It’s because of this turmoil that Warner Bros. asked Depp to step down from the role, and Mads Mikkelsen was cast in his place.
What Other Movies And Shows Is Mads Mikkelsen Known For?
Mads Mikkelsen’s films include many in which he plays the villain. He got his start in the 1996 crime thriller Pusher, in which he played the character of Tonny. He was popularized in the American film industry in the role of Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. He played Galen Erso in Rogue One and will also appear in Indiana Jones 5. Out of all of Mads Mikkelson’s films, he’s actually most known for his characterization of the prolific villain Hannibal Lecter in the wildly popular television series Hannibal. All of these roles, and more, have set him up to be the perfect Grindelwald.
Meanwhile, Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter, from the NBC series Hannibal, was the right balance between menacing and charismatic. Hannibal wasn’t his first or only time playing villain either. Aside from Le Chiffre, he later fought Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange as Kaecilius. But it’s his Hannibal that showcases why Mikkelsen is a great replacement for Grindelwald. Mikkelsen’s Hannibal was sad, melancholic, predatory and charismatic, which is exactly how Grindelwald is supposed to be. He’s a tragic but vile character. Unlike Voldemort, Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald uses charisma to have people join his cause, and, most importantly, his past with Albus Dumbledore indicates he has a human heart.
Other Harry Potter Recastings That Worked
The Harry Potter universe is no stranger to recasts, and sometimes these work out for the better. In the case of Bill Weasley, he was initially played by Richard Fish and then recast with Domhnall Gleeson. Gleeson turned out to be a better fit for the eldest Weasley sibling, though Fish was featured in pictures alone during Chamber of Secrets. Dawn French replaced Elizabeth Spriggs as the portrait of the Fat Lady, who guards Gryffindor Tower. This was another fun recast, as French was able to take on the comedic role that’s better explored in the Harry Potter books. While Richard Harris’ passing forced Dumbledore’s recasting, Michael Gambon ended up being a much more powerful Dumbledore. The final (and best) recast comes down to Richard Bremmer being replaced with Ralph Fiennes in the role of Lord Voldemort himself. Fiennes embodied the character of Voldemort, and while his version of the character seemed over-the-top at times, it was perfectly necessary for an accurate portrayal of the villain. Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald is no different.
While Depp is certainly capable of playing subtle characters, his Grindelwald feels cartoonish compared to the rest of the cast and world. Now that Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald is in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the series has a chance to add more depth and complexity to its main villain by using Mikkelsen’s past experience with the same type of characters. While the Fantastic Beasts movies still have other issues to fix, this casting choice is certainly a step in the right direction.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022)Release date: Apr 15, 2022
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