Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen will replace Johnny Depp in the third film of the J.K. Rowling "Fantastic Beasts" franchise.
Warner Bros. Pictures announced Wednesday that the "Casino Royale" and "Doctor Strange" villain and star of TV's "Hannibal," who turned 55 on Sunday, takes over the role of Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the fantasy drama currently in production at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, outside London. Depp dropped out of the film after recently losing a libel suit against a British tabloid that had characterized him as a "wife beater" against former wife Amber Heard.
Depp, 57, released a statement on Nov. 6, saying in part: "I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected that and agreed to that request." He had appeared as the villainous mage in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (2016) and "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" (2018).
Warner Bros. said the as-yet-untitled new film, by director David Yates, who helmed the first two installments, is scheduled for release July 15, 2022. Mikkelsen has not commented publicly, other than by posting a Facebook link to an article about the new casting.