Mads Mikkelsen Talks of Fast Transition as Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts”

It has been over two months since Warner Bros. confirmed Mads Mikkelsen will be replacing Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts series. Mikkelsen’s most notable, spine-tingling villain roles as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale and Hannibal Lecter in NBC’s Hannibal have us looking forward to what he can bring to the Wizarding World franchise.



In an interview with Josh Horowitz, Mikkelsen described the typical prep time to develop a character – a lengthy process, involving many meetings with the cast and crew, often off set in the preproduction phase. With the sudden casting change, Mikkelsen had to make an even faster transition in Fantastic Beasts 3, though he describes this as something that didn’t necessarily feel rushed.

Yeah, it’s not the normal process for me or for anyone. I’ve seen in Danish film, as we’ve talked about before, the whole idea of talking for weeks, and maybe months, before we start shooting, coming up with ideas, calling each other in the middle of the night. [It] would probably not be the way I would approach an American film anyway. But I would definitely have meetings and talks, and all those details are settled before, in good time. And here, [it] was like, ‘Okey-dokey, I’m flying over. I’ll take it from there.’ And then we had a Skype meeting and we talked about the story, character, and it seems as if everybody was agreeing very much how to approach it with the change we would be dealing with now. So yes, it was different, but it didn’t feel rushed or anything once I was there. If felt… Yeah, you talk about it, but it’s about working. But not in the normal way, no. Definitely not.

Though the transition of recasting the role of Grindelwald was hasty, Mikkelsen says the cast and crew were nothing but welcoming.

They were just wonderful people. They know the situation that they’re in. They know the situation I’m in, the film is in, so it’s a family that’s always already been close-knit, but there was room for one more. That’s the way you feel, and so yeah, that was just a very good experience. And that [goes] for everyone there. They have a kind crew as well. They are [in] very difficult circumstances, not only this but the COVID-like styles, testing constantly, it feels like a really tight-knit community.

Horowitz pointed out that his acting career is sort of the opposite of a midlife crisis. When asked if his career trajectory has exceeded his expectations, Mikkelsen agreed but also revealed that he never really had any expectations about his future.

If you asked me when I was a young dancer, yes. If you asked me when I was in drama school, yes. If you asked me the first ten years of my biggest acting career, yes. Everything has been different than I thought. But then again, my life has been different than I thought from the very start. I never dreamed of being a dancer. I had never watched a dance, never been to the theater. So nothing has turned out the way I planned. But that’s also partly thanks to that I’ve not planned anything. I didn’t have any plans. I had dreams and fantasies like anybody else. I was watching films and I wanted to be that guy up there – not the actor. I wanted to be Bruce Lee. I wanted to be the guy. I didn’t imagine being an actor. I just wanted to be him.

Make sure to listen to the full interview on Happy Sad Confused where Mikkelsen hints at a Hannibal Season 4 revival and talks of his love of comic books, his part in a Rihanna music video, his film Another Round, and more.

Are you looking forward to what he can bring to the role of Grindelwald? Let us know in the comments below.


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Jillian Loveday

I grew alongside Harry since I was 12 years old. It is such a treat to be a part of the best book club any Harry Potter fan could ask for. I graduated in 2016 with a Creative Writing degree and since then I have been doing freelance writing on the side. Outside of the literary world, I love the outdoors, hiking, and binge-watching Parks and Rec for the billionth time.