Mads Mikkelsen takes on Johnny Depp's Grindelwald in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore' out April 28 in UAE

The Danish actor is entering the Wizarding World for the first time.

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Photos: AP
Photos: AP

Published: Wed 27 Apr 2022, 10:53 AM

Last updated: Wed 27 Apr 2022, 10:56 AM

Eddie Redmayne returns for his third outing as magizoologist Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, a highly-anticipated movie the Oscar winner said he feared would not be released at one point due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the film’s premiere in London, Redmayne said, “It always feels incredibly surreal but particularly euphoric this time because the making of this movie during Covid, it was incredibly stressful and hugely enjoyable. But there were moments when I wasn’t even sure it would make it out into the world and so I’m thrilled that it has. It’s filled with the whimsy and the magic that I loved in the Potter films.”

The Harry Potter spin-off is set some 60 years before J.K. Rowling’s books but features younger versions of some of the same key characters, like Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

Trailers for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, releasing April 28 in the UAE, show a brewing wizard war with Scamander and Dumbledore, played by Jude Law, teaming up against villainous wizard Gellert Grindelwald.

“There are a lot of wonderfully familiar characters who evolve, reveal. There are new fantastic beasts. They’re really fantastic, some scary, some cute,” Law said. “There’s an extraordinary heart at the centre of this film. It’s a sort of broken heart and it reveals an awful lot about the empathy that Dumbledore builds on his sort of wound, his regrets and it culminates in an extraordinary battle that I think has a wonderful emotional physicality at its heart.”

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen plays Grindelwald, taking over from Johnny Depp. The Hollywood star was forced to exit the role in late 2020 after losing a libel case in Britain against a tabloid newspaper that branded him a “wife beater”.

Mikkelsen spoke in detail about his role as Grindelwald.

What it was like for you to step into the Wizarding World for the first time?

Well, it was quite overwhelming, to be frank. My daughter was a big fan of the Harry Potter universe. But I had to read up on some of it and, obviously, I’d seen some of it with my daughter. And I love the universe. I think it’s a fantastic, brilliant world that opens up for creativity and fantasy and bursting through borders. Your mind can go anywhere when you’re dealing with this universe, so that was overwhelming.

And you got to portray one of its most powerful Dark wizards, Gellert Grindelwald. How did you approach that?

Stepping into the shoes of one of the Wizarding World’s greatest wizards… Well, as an actor, I assume that Grindelwald has taken it for granted since he was quite young. Obviously, he is at the same level as Dumbledore—equal powers, equal goals of leaving the world a better place, but by different means. So, I approached it like that: as a man who thinks he has virtue on his side, just as Dumbledore believes he does.

Grindelwald is in possession of a very coveted wand. Did you know about the Elder Wand?

I did know about the Elder Wand, and I did tell my daughter right away that that was in my possession, and she freaked out. It’s a beautiful wand, obviously, and extremely powerful. It was a funny experience, because we all got very attached to our wands, so every time there was a cut, or any kind of break, or lunch break, we had numerous people coming around to pick them up, because they wouldn’t risk that we might stuff it into our sleeves (laughs). We all wanted to take them home.

Jessica Williams, Callum Turner, Jude Law, Fionna Glascott, Dan Fogler and Eddie Redmayne in a scene from 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore'.
Jessica Williams, Callum Turner, Jude Law, Fionna Glascott, Dan Fogler and Eddie Redmayne in a scene from 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore'.

More than any previous film, this film delves into the relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore, and how, in a way, what brought them together, ultimately tore them apart. Can you talk about that aspect of their relationship?

We touch upon it in this film. It does seem as if they started out as very talented wizards who united at a young age because they knew that they were more talented than anyone else.

I also have a line in the film, I will be paraphrasing it, but Grindelwald does say to Dumbledore, that, “It was you who said that we could reshape the world.” And that has probably been a dream, a mutual dream within the two of them to reshape the world. And then, down the line, something happened, and their paths split, probably because the means of reshaping the world were quite different from Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

Did you have a lot of conversations with Jude about that? And can you talk about working with him?

We did have quite a few conversations. One of the first scenes I had was one of the first scenes in the film, where we see Dumbledore and Grindelwald in a restaurant, and where we touch upon their past. There is a mutual respect for each other in the room, and a mutual love, I would say, and also a mutual fear. So, it was quite an interesting scene. It was as if—and we don’t go down that path in the film—but it is as old lovers who know each other very, very well. And there’s a bitterness, and there are still a whole bunch of emotions in it.

So, that was a very interesting scene to start out with. It was almost like being not wizards, but just two very old friends who had somehow disappointed each other. And so, we took it from there. And then the wizards element was on top of everything, but we knew that would unfold throughout the film, so we didn’t have to do it in that scene, specifically. And Jude is just a lovely, fantastic actor to work with, and I was very blessed that one of the first scenes was a real acting scene with him. So, that was off to a good start.

This being your first time in a Wizarding World movie, it was also your first time on sets created by the legendary Stuart Craig. Can you talk about what it was like to step into the world that they created on the Leavesden backlot?

I would say for any actor who comes from a different part of the world than the United States, it is always mind-blowing when you enter a created world like this. It’s just not something we can do with our budgets back home in Denmark, or in Europe for that matter. And when you walk onto any set, everything is so real and so amazing.

(Text: Supplied, with inputs from Reuters)

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