Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

With Johnny Depp being forced out of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, it raises a big question: Who will replace the actor as the sinister Gellert Grindelwald?

Warner Bros. is looking to cast a new actor in the pivotal role, and is probably looking to move quickly given that the third film in the series is already in production in the U.K.

Depp's own suggestions helped physically design his version of Grindelwald: a deathly pale specter with spiky, platinum blond hair, a modest mustache, and one odd "scary eye."

Thankfully for the franchise's producers, this is the Wizarding World, so it wouldn't be too hard to justify changing the character's appearance for another actor.

While the production arguably wouldn't even need to have the character to look anything like Depp, there is some background to the character that will likely inform their choice. Grindelwald attended Durmstrang Institute, which is thought to be located in western Russia or northern Europe. Given the prequel franchise's 1920s-'30s timeline and the character's rise to power to threaten the world by declaring wizards a master race, Grindelwald is sort of considered the Wizarding World's version of Hitler. So it seems likely the production will opt for another white male in the role. Given the character's description, here are a few ideas:


Matt Smith: The versatile Doctor Who (pictured) and The Crown actor is a favorite among genre fans and is physically in the ballpark of Depp's version, and could certainly pull off the role.

The Stand
Credit: Robert Falconer/CBS

Alexander Sarsgaard: Seeing the True Blood actor playing the demonic Randall Flagg in CBS All Access' upcoming version of The Stand (pictured), it's easy to think of him slipping into the Grindelwald role.

Game of Thrones Season 8, episode 2 (debut 4/21/19): Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: One can easily imagine the imposing Game of Thrones star trading a broadsword for a wand.

Credit: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

Mads Mikkelsen: The former Hannibal and Rogue One (pictured) actor can be scarily creepy and could lend gravitas to the role.

And finally, there's the most obvious and perhaps best choice…

Credit: Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.

Colin Farrell: The actor has already played Grindelwald — albeit in disguise — in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. At the end of that first film, when he was transformed into Depp's version, some fans were disappointed, despite Depp being arguably the better-known actor (some fans even giggled in the theater given the rather extreme appearance of Depp's characterization). Though Farrell was playing Grindelwald disguising himself as American auror Percival Graves, and not playing Grindelwald straight up, Farrell nonetheless demonstrated the combination of charm and menace that the dark wizard is best known for. The only problem is that Farrell is currently a bit busy – playing the Penguin in The Batman, another Warner Bros. film that's also shooting in the U.K. So close, yet so far away...

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Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
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