Mads Mikkelsen takes over ‘Fantastic Beasts’ role after Johnny Depp’s departure

Portraits of Mads Mikkelsen and Johnny Depp
Mads Mikkelsen, left, will take on the role of Gellert Grindelwald in the third “Fantastic Beasts” film after Johnny Depp was pushed out.
(Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images, left; Loic Venance / Getty Images)

The rumors are true: Mads Mikkelsen will replace Johnny Depp as dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts 3,” Warner Bros. confirmed Wednesday. The casting news comes just weeks after Depp was pushed out of the role and resigned at the studio’s request.

Danish actor Mikkelson, 55, appeared as Dr. Hannibal Lecter for three seasons on TV’s “Hannibal,” Kaecilius in “Doctor Strange” and Galen Erso in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” to name just a few of his many credits.

Speaking about the Grindelwald role last week to IGN, he said it was “on the rumor basis as we speak. So I know as much as you do from the newspapers. So I’m waiting for that phone call.”


At Warner Bros.’ request, Johnny Depp has resigned his role as Grindelwald in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise after losing a libel case in the U.K.

Nov. 6, 2020

He didn’t have to wait long. The latest installment in the series, based on books by “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, is currently in production at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden outside of London. It has been rescheduled for a July 2022 release, postponed from the original November 2021 plan.

Depp played Grindelwald in 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and 2018’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” both of which starred Eddie Redmayne as quirky “magizoologist” Newt Scamander. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star had filmed only one scene for the newest “Beasts” movie before the casting upheaval.

Depp lost the franchise gig in early November after losing a U.K. libel case involving ex-wife Amber Heard. Lurid personal details were revealed during the course of the case, which Depp brought against a British tabloid that labeled him a “wife beater” in a 2018 article. He intends to appeal the court’s decision.

Scandalous conflicting testimony from both actors about their turbulent years together included admissions of heavy drug use by Depp and allegations of violence on both sides. It was apparently all too much for the studio to handle.

“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,” the actor wrote in a short statement posted Nov. 6 on social media.