'Fantastic Beasts 3' Set to Replace Johnny Depp With Mads Mikkelsen as Grindelwald

Mads Mikkelsen might be the new Gellert Grindelwald. The Hannibal and Rogue One actor is in early talks to replace Johnny Depp as the villain in the upcoming David Yates-directed Fantastic Beasts 3 following Depp’s exit last week. Mikkelsen is reportedly at the top of Yates’ list to play Grindelwald, and could join the currently-shooting Fantastic Beasts sequel soon enough for the film to make its summer 2022 release date.

We called it. Mads Mikkelsen is the top actor being considered to replace Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts 3, the third installment of the Harry Potter spin-0ff series, following Depp’s exit in the wake of a drawn-out legal battle with British tabloid The Sun. Deadline reports that Mikkelsen is in early talks to play Grindelwald, the Big Bad of the Fantastic Beasts franchise played by Depp in Fantastic Beasts and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. And if they couldn’t get Colin Farrell back (he played one of Grindelwald’s disguises in the first film), Mikkelsen may be an even better option.

For one, the Danish actor shares an Eastern European heritage with the character of Gellert Grindelwald (who is said to be from Hungary or Central or Eastern Europe). And for another, Mikkelsen just oozes sex appeal — making any future interactions between Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald and Jude Law’s Dumbledore far more exciting. The dynamic between the two lovers-turned-enemies has been frustratingly chaste, and Mikkelsen could finally turn that around.

And if Mikkelsen does get the part, he would get the rare honor of being the first actor to hit the Harry Potter, Marvel, and Star Wars trifecta (having starred in Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).

Depp exited the film last week after he was asked by Warner Bros. to leave the role following the loss of his court battle against The Sun, the tabloid that described him as a “wife beater” and claimed he had abused his ex-wife, Aquaman actress Amber Heard. Depp sued tabloid for libel, but the courts ultimately sided with The Sun. Warner Bros. asked Depp to exit the role, even though the actor had already shot one scene for the film earlier this year. But the actor isn’t suffering that much from this departure — he’s still getting paid his full eight-figure salary by Warner Bros. as part of his “pay or play” deal with the studio.

Warner Bros. has reportedly been quick to look for a new actor to play the dark wizard, and Mikkelsen was a favorite pick for Yates, who returns to direct the third installment after helming the first two films. The aim is to keep production running smoothly so that Fantastic Beasts 3 can meet its newly rescheduled July 2o22 release date. Shooting has recently resumed following a COVID-19 delay in March.

Fantastic Beasts 3 will largely take place in Rio de Janeiro and leads up to the Wizarding World’s involvement in World War II. Eddie Redmayne, Law, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, and others are set to return in the film directed by longtime Harry Potter filmmaker Yates and based on a screenplay by J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves.

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