David Yates and Warner Bros. have started talks with Mads Mikkelsen to have him replace Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3.
Deadline reported that Mikkelsen, a Danish actor known for playing Dr Hannibal Lecter in the television series Hannibal, is director Yate’s frontrunner to step into the character of the dark wizard in the as-yet-unnamed film.
The change in casting comes after Warner Bros. requested Depp to renounce the role, following his loss of a libel case against News Group Newspapers, who in 2018 published an article in The Sun labelling him a wife-beater. Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, provided sufficient support for the claim in a high-profile trial, with the court ruling in favour of News Group on 2 November.
Depp personally announced his departure from the Fantastic Beasts franchise last week, taking to Instagram to thank his supporters, and proclaiming that he doesn’t accept the ruling.
“The surreal judgement of the court in the U.K. will not change my fight, to tell the truth, and I confirm that I plan to appeal,” he wrote.
Although Warner Bros. has pushed the release date of the Harry Potter spin-off from 12 November 2021 to summer 2022 following Depp’s departure, and complications due to COVID-19, the studio is maintaining a tight production schedule, with Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law already at work on set.