Mads Mikkelsen steps into the Harry Potter universe
He is no stranger to villainous characters, having played iconic baddies in movies such as Casino Royale, Doctor Strange and TV series Hannibal.
Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen is getting much applause for his portrayal of powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: Secrets Of Dumbledore, a role he took over from Johnny Depp.
Depp played Grindelwald in the first two Fantastic Beasts films (Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, 2016; Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, 2018). The US actor was replaced following allegations of domestic abuse.
In this third Fantastic Beasts film, Grindelwald has emerged from the shadows, ready to implement his plot to gain control of the entire wizarding world and wage all-out war on the Muggles.
The only wizard who can thwart his ambitious plans is Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), Grindelwald's former soul mate. This film delves into the relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore, and how, in a way, what brought them together, ultimately tore them apart.
Directed by David Yates, Fantastic Beasts: Secrets Of Dumbledore, opening here April 14, also stars Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, and Dan Fogler.
The 56-year-old acclaimed actor talks about the intricate relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore, and how he wanted to sneak the coveted Elder Wand home.
What it was like for you to step into the Wizarding World for the first time?
MADS MIKKELSEN: It was quite overwhelming. 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. I love the universe. It’s a fantastic, brilliant world that opens up for creativity and fantasy.
And you got to portray one of its most powerful Dark wizards, Gellert Grindelwald.
Grindelwald is at the same level as Dumbledore — equal powers, equal goals of leaving the world a better place, but by different means. 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 was a funny experience because we all got very attached to our wands. Every time there was a cut, or any kind of 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!
Can you talk about Dumbledore and Grindelwald's relationship?
It does seem as if they started out as very, 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.
One of the first scenes I had was the opening scene 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.
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. The wizard 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.
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.
The Wizarding World has endured for more than 20 years now. Why do you think it continues to draw people to it?
I think the easiest word is escapism. Our world is what it is; we live in it, and we have our daily lives 24/7. Everybody needs something to escape with, a tool, something, whether you watch a football game, or you watch an old movie. You’re escaping when you’re watching it.
The Wizarding World is the ultimate escapism because there are plenty of characters in there who you can identify with. Once you step into those shoes for two and a half hours and fly away, it takes the edge off an everyday life. You can fly somewhere. You can imagine stuff. You can pretend you are flying. And I think that is something everybody needs.