After Johnny Depp, Mads Mikkelsen plays the villainous Gellert Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts 3 – Dumbledore’s Secrets”. But why this change of face?
Colin Farrel. Johnny Depp. And now Mads Mikkelsen. With each episode of Fantastic Beasts, the villain Gellert Grindelwald changes face, which has almost become one of the hallmarks of this saga whose events take place several decades before the adventures of Harry Potter. Except that the reasons have varied from film to film.
FROM COLIN TO JOHNNY…
The first change is indeed scriptwriting. At the end of the first part, released in November 2016, Norbert Dragonneau (Eddie Redmayne) discovered that Percival Graves was not who he claimed to be. Because under the appearance of the Director of Magical Security and right-hand man of the President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America was actually hiding Gellert Grindelwald.
Be the most evil wizard the Earth has ever known until the rise of Voldemort, who murders him in his cell as seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Was Graves killed? Or just kidnapped and held captive? David Yates’ film will never tell, and Colin Farrell disappears from the saga when Johnny Depp makes his appearance there, which did not fail to amuse some spectators.
Because it was not the first time that the two actors shared the same role: in 2009, they had agreed to replace, in turn, the late Heath Ledger in the sequences of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus that he couldn’t turn. Each time his character crossed a mirror to land in a marvelous world, he changed his face, taking on those of Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and… Jude Law, future interpreter of Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts 2.
A film in which the villain could already have changed his face. From 2016, the year of release of the first opus, the production is considering replacing the actor, accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife Amber Heard. But JK Rowling and director David Yates support it publicly, and even make it one of the selling points of episode 2, titled The Crimes of Grindelwald. But that was only a postponement.
… AND FROM JOHNNY TO MADS
Because Grindelwald changes face again in the third episode. And for a legal reason this time. On November 6, 2020, Warner announced that Johnny Depp would not participate in the filming of Fantastic Beasts 3, and the actor confirmed it with a message posted on instagram in which he claims that the studio asked him to step down and that he “respected and accepted” this request.
After having openly supported him, the production therefore changed its tune. If the trial between him and Amber Heard, for mutual domestic violence, has just opened, the actor had lost his fight against the tabloid The Sun, which he attacked in defamation for having relayed the accusations of the actress. In a verdict handed down in November 2020, the actor was found guilty of the facts with which he was charged according to the media, and it was in the process that Warner chose to part with him.
It would also not be surprising if the disappointing box office of Fantastic Beasts 2 (655 million dollars worldwide, against 814 for the first) weighed in the balance. A year after the semi-failure of Pirates of the Caribbean 5, where his behavior on the set had been singled out, The Crimes of Grindelwald proved that Johnny Depp was no longer as bankable as in the early 2000s, and that the studio could all the more easily do without him for the prequel to Harry Potter, without making his big bad disappear.
Many fans then hoped for the return of Colin Farrell, unfairly sidelined for their taste, but it was ultimately Mads Mikkelsen who inherited the magic wand. What did not fail to be unanimous, the Dane having proved that he was not only good in the roles of bad guys, but that he was a great actor, always at the level even when the film in which it is illustrated is less so.
If he has a lock of hair bleached, Mads Mikkelsen does not however keep the look of his predecessor and Fantastic Beasts 3 does not give an explanation on the reason for this change of face. Like when Michael Gambon replaced the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the film and the saga are as if nothing had happened. While waiting to see if Grindelwald changes appearance again in a possible fourth installment.