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Speaking with The Sunday Times, the Doctor Strange and Rogue One star shared his complicated feelings around taking the part over from Depp, who announced his departure from the role and film last November after appearing in 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald.
“They called me and they were obviously in a hurry, and I loved the script and so said yes,” Mikkelsen, said of his decision to take on the part. “And I know it was controversial for many people, but that’s just the way it plays out once in a while.”
Mikkelsen, acknowledged that a replacement was inevitable, as “obviously, they were going to do the film, and obviously he was not involved anymore,” but says he “didn’t have a dog in that fight” and would have liked to touch base with the actor following his step back from the role.
“I don’t know what happened [in his private life], and I don’t know if it was fair, him losing the job, but I just knew that the show was going on, and I would’ve loved to have talked to him about it if I had the chance, but I just don’t know him in that sense,” Mikkelsen said.
Depp shared he would no longer play the role over Instagram, citing that Fantastic Beasts studio Warner Bros. had asked him to step down. “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,” he wrote.
His firing came just days after the actor lost a libel suit in the U.K. against News Group Newspapers. Depp had sued the Sun publisher for defamation over the April 17, 2018, article headlined, “How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife-beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
Several days before the actor made his announcement, the case’s judge dismissed the suit, finding that what the paper published was “substantially true.”
During his interview with The Sunday Times, Mikkelsen also teased a bit about how his take on Grindelwald — the powerful dark wizard with ties to the eventual Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore — will be different than Depp’s, as well as his time working with Harrison Ford on the upcoming Indiana Jones 5.
Speaking to his own iteration of the Fantastic Beasts character, Mikkelsen said that he “didn’t want to copy what Johnny had done” and will be bringing something definitely his own.
“I think he’s a masterful actor, so copying him would’ve been creative suicide,” Mikkelsen said. “I had to figure out something that was definitely my own, and yet also act as a bridge to what he had done.”
“My take is different, and the look is a little different, but we’ll have to wait for the film’s release [next year] to find out,” he continued.
As for what it’s been like working with acting icon and fellow Star Wars franchise star Harrison Ford on the fifth Indiana Jones installment, Mikkelsen said that while he largely doesn’t get star-struck anymore, Ford was the exception to this rule.
“The more you’ve been in the movie business the less you find yourself wearing your ‘fan hat,’ and yet in this case it was there for a little while longer than most,” Mikkelsen said. “It helps that Harrison is a really sweet man and that everyone on set is aware that we are there, primarily, to do an Indiana Jones film.”
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