Mads Mikkelsen in Fantastic Beasts 3

Mads Mikkelsen is officially replacing Johnny Depp as the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the upcoming third film in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise. With the exception of the die hard Johnny Depp supporters and have taken to the web to demand that his ex-wife Amber Heard be removed from Aquaman 2 as well, most fans are simply wondering what Mikkelsen will do with the villain role in the still-untitled Fantastic Beasts 3. And now, the Rogue One and Hannibal star has talked about it.

Entertainment Weekly spoke to Mads Mikkelsen in support of his new movie Another Round (in theaters tomorrow and on VOD starting December 18), and they asked how Mikkelsen’s performance might differ from what Depp did with Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The actor initially responded jokingly by saying, “Well, it’s going to be me, so that’s a difference.” Then Mikkelsen elaborated more thoughtfully:

“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.”

Mikkelsen using part of Depp’s performance to inform part of his own take on the character is smart. After all, you don’t want Grindelwald to feel like an entirely new character, even if he’s going to look completely different on-screen. Thankfully, there’s already a precedent set for the change in appearance since Grindelwald was initially in disguise as Percival Graves, an auror for the Ministry of Magic played by Colin Farrell in the first Fantastic Beasts movie. So maybe Grindelwald’s appearance in the previous sequel can be explained as just another disguise that needs to be shed in order to continue evading magical law enforcement.

This isn’t the first time Mikkelsen has portrayed a villain. He starred as the titular cannibalistic genius killer in Hannibal, gave Daniel Craig’s James Bond a run for his money in Casino Royale, and wreaked mystical havoc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the bad guy in Doctor Strange. But Mikkelsen’s presence in blockbusters like this is always welcome because he immediately elevates any movie that he appears in. Considering how disappointing the Fantastic Beasts franchise has been so far, hopefully he can help Fantastic Beasts 3 fare a little better.

Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production in the United Kingdom and is slated to hit theaters on July 14, 2022.

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