Mads Mikkelsen Confirms Replacing Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts 3: "These Are Sad Circumstances"

Recent weeks have brought with them a number of unexpected changes for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel, as Johnny Depp announced he was stepping away from his role of Gellert Grindelwald at the request of Warner Bros., resulting in rumors that Mads Mikkelsen would take over the role, only for the studio to confirm that the Hannibal and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story actor was officially taking the role. In the wake of the casting decision being confirmed, Mikkelsen has weighed in on the matter, expressing his excitement at the opportunity to take over the role but also the disappointing set of circumstances that resulted in the decision.

"Job wise, it's obviously super interesting and nice," Mikkelsen shared with Entertainment Weekly of the situation. "It's also a shocker that it came after what happened, which is just super sad. I wish both of them the best. These are sad circumstances. I hope both of them will be back in the saddle again really soon."

Depp debuted as Grindelwald back in 2016 with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the same year when his then-wife Amber Heard made allegations about him regarding domestic abuse. The pair would officially separate, resulting in a number of lawsuits, while Depp reprised the role in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in 2018. Due to the claims by Heard, many fans have hoped to see Depp step away from the franchise, despite the studio and franchise creator standing by their casting decisions.

While the specific details of these allegations weren't directly referenced in Depp's or the studio's statements, Mikkelsen's comments surely imply that these disputes led to Depp leaving the franchise.

This won't be the first time an actor in the Wizarding World franchise took over a role, as Richard Harris played Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, with his passing requiring actor Michael Gambon to inherit the role for subsequent films. However, with Dumbledore sporting a large beard, the transition wasn't as noticeable for some audiences.

"Well it's going to be me, so that's a difference," Mikkelsen joked about what fans can expect from his take on the character.

It will be difficult, though, finding a narrative explanation for the actor taking on the role while also honoring the groundwork he laid for Grindelwald.

"No, this is the tricky part. We're still working it out," Mikkelson confirmed. "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."

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Fantastic Beasts 3 is set to hit theaters on July 15, 2022.

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