Mads Mikkelsen Replacing Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’

Mikkelsen could be making the jump from "Hannibal" to "Harry Potter."
Mads Mikkelsen and Johnny Depp
Mads Mikkelsen and Johnny Depp
AP/Warner Bros.

Update, November 25: Per an official release from Warner Bros.: The studio announced today that Mads Mikkelsen (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Hannibal,” “Casino Royale”) has been cast as Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the third “Fantastic Beasts” film. The latest installment in the series is currently in production at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden outside of London. The journey continues as Warner Bros. Pictures’ third “Fantastic Beasts” film takes audiences back to the beloved Wizarding World for an all-new, globe-trotting adventure. The latest installment of “Fantastic Beasts” features an ensemble cast led by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner, William Nadylam, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Jessica Williams, Victoria Yeates, and two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law (“Cold Mountain,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley”).

The film reunites director David Yates and producers David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves, Lionel Wigram and Tim Lewis, all of whom had collaborated on the previous two films in the series “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” Neil Blair, Danny Cohen, Josh Berger and Courtenay Valenti serve as executive producers. Screenwriters are J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves. The release date for the third “Fantastic Beasts” installment is July 15, 2022 and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. Mikkelsen is repped by UTA and Art Management in Denmark.

Earlier: 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.

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