When Franchises Re-Cast Characters (The Secrets of Dumbledore)

Now we have all watched a movie or a show and a character had been re-cast. The reasons they are re-cast are multiple. Arguments with directors, money disputes, etc. Sometimes, it’s a fail. Sometimes it works. Personally, I love Don Cheadle as Rhodey. I preferred his Rhodey to Terrence Howard’s. I might be an outlier thinking that though. The transition was jarring between the second and third Harry Potter movies where Richard Harris was replaced by Michael Gambon. Gambon was much different than Harris, which wasn’t a bad thing, but it worked. I got over it because it still felt like Dumbledore, just a harder, different version of his. It was like the difference between Nine and Ten. I had to adjust. Then th ere’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor where Maria Bello replaced Rachel Weisz as the titular female protagonist Evy O’Connell. As much as I love Maria Bello, and she’s a phenomenal actress and doesn’t get the credit she deserves, she’s not Evy. It didn’t work for me. I can’t watch that movie. Just like I can’t watch Return to Halloweentown because Sara Paxton is not Marnie Piper, Kimberly J. Brown is. There are plenty of others, shows and movies, that I’ve watched where the re-casting has been good/bad. I’ve watched all of them and judged them. But what do you do when a character is re-cast and it makes you not want to see the movie? To not even give it a chance?

I am talking about Fantastic Beasts and the Secrets of Dumbledore and the decision to re-cast Grindelwald. I’m sure most of you know what’s been going on between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. It’s been big news for a few years now.

Here’s a full timeline of their dispute for the past two or so years.

The basic gist of it is that Heard accused Depp of being physical and verbally abusive. Depp denied the claims and sued her for defamation. Since this entire thing started in I believe 2019, there has been a lot of questions. Some have taken Heard’s side. Others have taken Depp’s. Personally, considering that there is audio proof of Heard admitting she hit Depp, I’m on Depp’s side. I think that Heard is a liar. I also think that because she is a woman, of course she’s the one who is abused. Or at least that’s what everyone is going to think. Men can’t be abused in society’s eyes, which is a major problem.

For more on this, check out the following articles:

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard $100M lawsuit: Elon Musk, James Franco among celebs to testify

Johnny Depp meets with legal team ahead of televised court battle with Amber Heard

There was even a petition to get Heard out of Aquaman 2, but of course, that didn’t pan out. She’s still in the movie. Meanwhile, Depp has taken a major career hit. Not only will he not be returning as Captain Jack Sparrow anytime soon (currently, could change maybe). He resigned from Fantastic Beasts before Warner Bros could fire him. He did this in November of 2020. It’s not a surprise that he resigned. After all, Warner Bros. produced both Aquaman and Fantastic Beasts. They had clearly already made the decision that Heard was innocent and Depp was not when they didn’t fired Heard. After that, the franchise was in a stalemate. We had no idea who was going to play Grindelwald. The obvious choice was Collin Farrell who played a disguised Grindelwald in the first Fantastic Beasts movie, but he was busy with The Batman.

Instead, Mads Mikkelsen was cast. You probably know him as Hannibal Lector in NBC’s Hannibal. I personally haven’t watched the show, but I’ve heard it’s good.

Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal

He also plays Kaecilius from Doctor Strange who serves Dormammu. You know, this guy with the extra makeup.

Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius

Oh and he plays this guy from The Three Musketeers (2011). (Did anyone else forget that Luke Evans, Milla Jovovich and Orlando Bloom where also in this movie? It’s been so long since I’ve watched it that I’ve forgotten. Of course I also forget that Charlie Sheen plays Aramis in the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers. But let’s be real, Luke Evans as Aramis is probably so much better.)

Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort

Basically, Mikkelsen plays a lot of bad guys. Since I can’t remember him in The Three Musketeers and I’ve never seen Hannibal, I’m judging him off Doctor Strange. He was. . . .okay, as Kaecilius. I mean I understood him. Kaecilius was angry that the Ancient One was abusing magic when he was told he couldn’t use it to save his family. He didn’t like the hypocrisy. But otherwise, his character was. . .blah. I mean, he was there. That’s it.

I would love to give him a chance as Mikkelsen, I would but. . .I can’t. I’m not sure I can. I know I’m not seeing the movie in theatres and I doubt I’ll even watch it. But there is a problem when you re-cast a character, and the audience can’t tell who that character is. Let’s just take a look at some trailers.

So this is Depp’s Grindelwald. As per Depp, he’s weird. He’s got blonde hair and mismatched eyes. But he’s charismatic, no small part insane, but he’s got that charming. Like the devil but butter melts in his mouth thing going for him. Right?

Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald is completely different. For a lack of a better phrase, he looks like a business man. I didn’t even know he was Grindelwald when I watched this trailer. Not until the end and I went, “OH.” I thought he was some random wizard who was apart of Grindelwald’s army. They (and I say that generally) didn’t even try to keep any part of Depp’s Grindelwald. They went a different route entirely. I think that’s going to be a problem. Yes, Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore was different than Richard Harris’ but you could still recognize that it was Dumbledore, The beard, the robes. We’ve had Depp’s Grindelwald for two movies, more or less. He has a distinctive look. We’ve gotten used to it. And now we have this new actor who completely changes the look. So much that it wasn’t immediate clear that he was Grindelwald.

Taking the whole Johnny Depp and Amber Heard debacle out of the equation, I still won’t see this movie in theatres, and it’s up in the air if I’ll see it when it’s streaming. Eliminating the debacle, I still am not exactly pleased with the direction they are going with Grindelwald. It doesn’t feel like him and I think that’s going to negatively impact the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

I could be wrong, who knows. I guess we’ll have to see.

Which re-cast in either movies or shows worked for you? Which didn’t? Let me know!


5 thoughts on “When Franchises Re-Cast Characters (The Secrets of Dumbledore)

  1. Great post! Personally, I admire Mads Mikkelsen as an actor but am opposed to seeing this movie on ethical grounds. I try to to separate a movie from what’s going on behind the scenes, but they did Depp dirty and that doesn’t sit right with me. I’ll be honest, I think Mads is a great choice for recasting (probably the best they could have asked for) as he always puts in a great performance and I prefer this new understated appearance to Grindelwald’s original aesthetic. Nevertheless, I don’t think I will be watching this movie. Depp is clearly a victim of abuse and this whole thing seems like a massive f-you to him.


    1. Hey Rachael! Thank you for your comment. I’ve heard that Mads Mikkelsen is a great actor. I’m sure he is. I need to watch Hannibal. I have nothing against him. But they did do Depp dirty and it was a giant F-you to him. I’m not even sure I want to see Aquaman 2.


  2. I think people’s reaction to recasting is entirely subjective. Personally, I never warmed up to Michael Gambon as Dumbeldore because he was simply not the Dumbledore from the books to me. But hey, I still wept for hours when he died on screen in the Half-Blood Prince.

    I completely understand that for you, Johnny will always be the Grindelwald, because it is true that he made the role his own.

    But… I don’t think it’s fair to judge Mikkelsen’s acting range by his Hollywood roles because for most Americans, he is a foreigner with a funny accent so, of course, he is going to play the villain. On top of being a critical darling at film festivals, he’s had two Oscar-nominated films (A Royal Affair, The Hunt) and one Oscar-winning film so far (Another Round) in the Best International Feature category. He didn’t play the villain in any of them.


    1. Hello, Kat. I wanted to clarify that I’m not judging him on his acting range. I can’t judge him because I’ve only ever seen him in Doctor Strange. I have no idea his capabilities as an actor. Now I don’t particularly like his appearance as Grindelwald but that’s not on him. That was a director’s choice. I like the quirkiness of Depp. But the fact I didn’t even recognize Mikkelsen as Grindelwald I feel is a problem. But again that’s not on him. He could make a great Grindelwald and at some point I might watch the movie. I could even like him better than Depp. I have no problem with him. But rather how this was handled. And even taking all that out and trying to ignoring the Depp situation, I’m still not sure I want to see the movie. Excluding Mikkelsen, I wasn’t even excited by this trailer. It felt different and not in a good way. And again that’s not on him. It feels like they’re going in a different direction.


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