Mads Mikkelsen May Replace Johnny Depp in ‘The Fantastic Beasts’ Franchise

Published on November 10, 2020

Mads Mikkelsen is in talks to replace Johnny Depp in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Depp was fired following a judge’s ruling in the libel suit against The Sun. The newspaper labeled him a “wife-beater.” Depp lost the case, and as a consequence, lost his role as Grindelwald. The troubled franchise is now seeing some good news with the possibility of Mikkelsen taking over the role.

Director David Yates is keen on the actor, known for his fantastic performances in Hannibal, Casino Royale, and The Hunt. Warner Bros. and the filmmaker are considering several actors for the role, but according to Deadline, Mikkelsen is at the top of the list. Casting will have to move fast, as the third Fantastic Beasts film is already shooting in London. The sequel was most recently delayed from November 12, 2021, to summer 2022. 

Days after the judge’s ruling in Depp’s libel suit, Warner Bros. asked the actor to leave the franchise. Depp had already worked on the sequel, but he had only shot one scene. “I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request,” the actor said. “Finally, I wish to say this. The surreal judgment of the court in the U.K. will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal. My resolve remains strong and I intend to prove that the allegations against me are false.”

Depp is still getting a major payday for the franchise. Warner Bros. still has to pay him his full salary due to his “pay or play” contract. There was no morality clause in his contract, either, so bad behavior goes unpunished and, in this case, compensated. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it was the studio’s film chief, Toby Emmerich, who decided to kick Depp out of the franchise. The studio will still pay Depp eight-figures.

Mikkelsen is an ideal replacement. Mikkelsen turns in consistently entertaining work; Depp does not. Mikkelsen can be larger-than-life on-screen, too, making him well-suited to juicy villain roles. Mikkelsen is a charismatic guy, and Depp’s lack of charisma these days was sorely noticeable in the latest Fantastic Beasts film. The last sequel, which starred Depp as the titular villain, didn’t even make half the amount of money as the first film at the box-office. 

Even without Depp involved in The Fantastic Beasts franchise, it remains a toxic property for Warner Bros. Screenwriter and “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling’s public comments about the transgender community have disappointed fans. Rowling has let down millions of people more than once now. Rowling’s words may keep some audience members away from this franchise going forward. In addition to Rowling, there’s the case of actor Ezra Miller. Earlier this year, a video came out of Miller appearing to choke a woman in a bar. Since the video came out, neither Warner Bros. or Miller have commented on it. The actor, however, will soon reprise his role as Credence Barebone in Fantastic Beasts 3.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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