Mads Mikkelsen Replacing Johnny Depp in 'Fantastic Beasts' Franchise

Mads Mikkelsen is entering the wizarding world of Fantastic Beasts. The Hannibal star has signed on to replace Johnny Depp as the villainous Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the forthcoming third installment in the blockbuster franchise.

Warner Bros. announced the news in a press release on Wednesday. Production on the third film is currently underway at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, near London.

Depp played Grindelwald in the first two installments of the franchise — appearing as a cameo in the first film and starring as the primary antagonist in the second, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald.

However, Depp revealed earlier this month that he would be departing the franchise at the behest of Warner Bros.

“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,” Depp wrote.

Warner Bros. confirmed the news at the time in a statement to ET, saying, “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 news came after Depp lost a libel court case in the United Kingdom on Nov. 2. Depp previously sued The Sun and executive editor Dan Wootton after the tabloid referred to the actor as a “wife beater” in a 2018 article. The court ruled that the tabloid was justified in its use of the phrase, which directly referenced his relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard. 

Depp has vehemently denied he was ever violent toward Heard, whom he was married to from 2015 to 2017.

Days after the announcement, ET spoke with Jude Law — who played a young Albus Dumbledore in the second Fantastic Beasts film — and the actor reflected on the news that Depp’s role would be recast.

“It’s an enormous film, and there are many, many layers to it. It’s probably one of the biggest productions I’ve ever worked on,” Law shared. “And in a situation like this, you defer to the studio. That’s all you can do. Because you have to turn up and play your part…. “In a franchise like this, it’s the studio and the company that make the big decisions and you have to go along with those, because we’re just a member of the team.”

Check out the video below to hear more.

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