Mads MIkkelsen in 'The Secrets of Dumbledore'
Source: Warner Bros.

These Are the Actors Who Would Have Been Better Than Mads Mikkelsen in ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore'

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Apr. 18 2022, Published 2:54 p.m. ET

Now that the third installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise is here, longtime fans have some opinions. From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone all the way to Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, casting is an essential part of bringing the wizarding world to life. In the recent HBO special, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, most of the time was spent talking about how important it was to cast the right people in the roles.

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For the Fantastic Beasts franchise, that importance hasn’t changed a bit. While some of the characters existed in canon prior to the Fantastic Beasts films, others are brand new, so they have a little more leeway. But Grindelwald’s legend existed in the books and in the films, even with a short (albeit somewhat forgettable) cameo in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Now, due to a domestic abuse scandal, Johnny Depp, who was originally cast in the first two Fantastic Beasts movies, has been replaced by Mads Mikkelsen as Gellert Grindelwald. How do the two compare?

Johnny Depp in 'Crimes of Grindelwald'
Source: Warner Bros.
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Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald is inferior to Johnny Depp’s.

We hate to say it, but Mads’s Grindelwald just doesn’t live up to Johnny’s. Johnny Depp has a certain je ne sais quoi, which is why he often gets cast in “quirky” roles, such as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland or as Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean. He brought that charming wildness and unpredictability to his portrayal of Grindelwald. His charisma made it clear how he could grow to so much power and even win over Dumbledore.

As we know, in the Harry Potter books, Dumbledore is a man of quirkiness himself, although Michael Gambon doesn’t portray this well in the films. Many fans saw the Fantastic Beasts franchise as a way to reinvent “movie Dumbledore” and bring him back to his literary roots. But now that there’s a new Grindelwald, that opportunity has been convoluted.

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Johnny Depp in 'Crimes of Grindelwald'
Source: Warner Bros

Mads Mikkelsen isn’t the worst part of The Secrets of Dumbledore, but he’s certainly not the best. He delivers every line with darkness; the only emotion behind his facial expressions seems to be rage. But that’s not the Grindelwald we know. It’s hard to believe that Mads’s Grindelwald would one day atone for his sins and regret what he did. It’s almost impossible to believe that he and Dumbledore were once truly in love.

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We have some ideas about who would be a better replacement for Johnny Depp in the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise.

It’s true that we loved Johnny Depp’s performance in The Crimes of Grindelwald, but we understand why he needed to be replaced. So we came up with some actors that might have done a better job than Mads Mikkelsen does in the role. Our first choice might be obvious to some fans, and might be a total shocker to others: Jamie Campbell Bower.

Young Dumbledore and Grindelwald in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'
Source: Warner Bros.
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We know the 33-year-old actor might be a bit young for the role, but as Harry Potter fans know, he is the face of Grindelwald in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the photo on Bathilda Bagshot’s dresser. How fantastic would it be for canon to see him reprise the role?

Not only that, but he played Anthony in Sweeney Todd, who was somewhat of a mentee to Johnny Depp’s Sweeney, so there’s a romantic sort of parallel in Jamie taking over the role. Plus, he definitely has the charm and acting chops to do it.

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Colin Farrell in 'Fantastic Beasts'
Source: Warner Bros.

Other fans want to see Colin Farrell back in the films. Grindelwald disguised himself with Colin’s appearance anyway, so why not do it again? On the other hand, that could create some confusion about whether he’s the real Percival Graves or not.

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Another Grindelwald choice could be Ben Wishaw. He’s right up there in caliber with the classic British stage and screen actors who graced the Harry Potter films. Plus, he could bring a new sort of quietness to the role.

This may seem like a strange choice, but what about Brad Pitt? He’s unafraid to get weird, as we’ve seen in Interview With the Vampire, Fight Club, and Cool World. He’s arguably one of the most charismatic film actors of all time, and it wouldn’t be outlandish to see him build up an army of followers as he descends into madness.

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Brad Pitt in 'Interview With the Vampire'
Source: Warner Bros.

Our final pick for Grindelwald is none other than Joaquin Phoenix. He can bring the Joker energy that Grindelwald needs — we already know he has a deep well of emotional range that can communicate the darkness inside Grindelwald while also attracting a mass of terrifying followers.

There were many actors who should have taken on the role after Johnny Depp, and we’re disappointed with the one Warner Bros. landed on.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is playing in theaters everywhere.

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