The casting search to replace Johnny Depp in “Fantastic Beasts 3” is moving quickly, as Deadline reports “Hannibal” favorite Mads Mikkelsen is the top choice to take over the villainous role of Gellert Grindelwald. Per Deadline: “Sources said [Mikkelsen] is Yates’ choice to play Grindelwald and he is in early talks. The aim is to keep on track a picture that recently moved its original November 12, 2021 release date to summer 2022. The cast led by Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law are already shooting.”
Johnny Depp made his debut as the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise’s big bad at the end of the 2016 film, and he reprised the role in a much larger capacity for the 2018 sequel “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” Depp announced last week he was exiting the franchise after Warner Bros. asked him to resign from the role following a much-publicized libel case against The Sun. Depp lost the legal battle as the U.K. judge dismissed Depp’s libel case and sided in favor of The Sun, which called Depp a “wife beater.”
Though Depp will not be appearing in the movie, he will be receiving the full eight-figure salary he was set to earn. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Depp filmed just one scene for “Fantastic Beasts 3” before exiting the project.
“In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement,” Depp wrote November 6 on Instagram. “Firstly, I’d like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty. I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days.”
Depp continued, “I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request.”
Warner Bros. wrote in its own statement: “Johnny Depp will depart the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date. Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production, and the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast. The film will debut in theaters worldwide in the summer of 2022.”
As reported this week, Depp will still be paid his full eight-figure salary despite not appearing in “Fantastic Beasts 3.” The actor only filmed one scene in the film before exiting. “Fantastic Beasts 3” will open in theaters July 15, 2022.