“Fantastic Beasts” star Mads Mikkelsen recently opened up about replacing Johnny Depp in the fantasy adventure film “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.”
Mikkelsen was tapped to replace Depp in the role of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald after Depp lost a high-profile libel suit against Britain’s The Sun tabloid newspaper in 2020. Depp portrayed Grindewald in the first two installments of the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, set in the magical realm of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.
In an interview with GQ published Friday, Mikkelsen said being cast as Grindelwald by director David Yates and Warner Bros. was a tense whirlwind.
“Obviously there was a situation that had to be solved overnight,” he told the outlet. “They were just panicking.”
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Mikkelsen said he views his portrayal of Grindelwald as building upon Depp’s character work rather than recreating Depp’s approach. “To copy him would be creative suicide,” he said. “We had to make it our own.”
Mikkelsen plays opposite Jude Law, who stars as Grindewald’s former lover, Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore. The former “Hannibal” actor said the complex chemistry between the two characters drew him to the role.
“There was a subtlety to what they were trying to do, especially with that relationship,” Mikkelsen said. “They definitely like each other — and they definitely have to get rid of each other.”
While Mikkelsen said he can be “fairly annoying to work with” because of his uncompromising work style, he’s not impressed by the allure of method acting, popularized in recent years by actors such as Jeremy Strong and Lady Gaga.
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“You can take (preparation) into insanity,” Mikkelsen said. “What if it’s a (expletive) film — what do you think you achieved? Am I impressed that you didn’t drop character? You should have dropped it from the beginning! How do you prepare for a serial killer? You gonna spend two years checking it out?”
He added: “The media goes, ‘Oh my god, he took it so seriously, therefore he must be fantastic; let’s give him an award.’ Then that’s the talk, and everybody knows about it, and it becomes a thing.”
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And while the “Harry Potter” franchise continues to be associated with Rowling’s increasingly controversial image — multiple online posts made by the author have been widely perceived as transphobic, misinformative and hurtful — Mikkelsen said he prefers to stay out of it.
“I have a habit of not commenting on things that I don’t know anything about, and I actually think that that would suit the entire world,” Mikkelsen said.
He added: “I don’t know what the solution is. No hateful rhetoric towards either women or trans (people) — that’s a good start. But we have to be honest — and it seems to me, when you turn science into ideology, and politics into science, then you’re not talking from an honest place. And I think that’s muddying the waters regarding what side you’re on, and rarely leads to anywhere good.”
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Contributing: Brian Truitt, Bryan Alexander, Hannah Yasharoff
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‘Fantastic Beast’ actor talks replacing Johnny Depp