Days after Johnny Depp stepped down from playing Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3, Mads Mikkelsen is in talks to take over the role. I say this as a one-time hardcore Depp fan: Mads Mikkelsen is a better actor and this is an upgrade. Casting him as a villain is a little cliché at this point—he’s been Hollywood’s go-to villain for years—but he is a terrific actor who can combine worldly charm with deadly menace better than almost anyone (it’s what made him so good on Hannibal). He’ll make a great wizard fascist. It does sound like these talks are early—Deadline notes that “there has been speculation” on other actors, but Mikkelsen is the one they want to play Grindelwald. Imagine if they had cast him in the first place.
Included in this report is the detail that Depp had only worked one day on the film, so there isn’t much footage they’re going to have to toss out. He will, however, be paid his full salary. People are up in arms about it, but he had a contract. It’s really not easy to break those. He’ll get an eight-figure payday to go away, but he will miss out on future payments, should Fantastic Beasts extend to films four and five, as was the original plan for the franchise. I doubt that will happen, because Fantastic Beasts is a f-cking mess even without all the real-world garbage fires encircling it, but if it DOES go to five films, Depp won’t benefit. For those who did not want him in Fantastic Beasts to begin with, this is the cleanest, quickest end possible to his term as Grindelwald, and everyone is already moving on to the idea of Mads Mikkelsen in the role. An A-list star being essentially fired from a major studio franchise with a passionate fanbase has been less dramatic this week than the results of the American election.