Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts

At the top of the month, gasps fell over Harry Potter fans when it was announced that Johnny Depp would officially be exiting the Fantastic Beasts franchise in response to losing his libel case. Since the third Fantastic Beasts movie is currently in production in the U.K. with Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law and the rest of the all-star cast, Warner Bros had to move fast to find another Gellert Grindelwald to take Depp’s place. For weeks, the name on the studio’s lips has been Mads Mikkelsen, and now a final decision has been made.

According to an official Warner Bros announcement, Mads Mikkelsen is now set to replace Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3. The news comes just a week after the Doctor Strange and Hannibal actor updated fans by saying he was “waiting for the phone call” to make it official.

The studio had to move quickly after Johnny Depp’s legal circumstances surely posed a branding issue after losing his defamation defense against the use of “wife beater” in The Sun. But given the short time Fantastic Beasts 3 had, Mads Mikkelsen will seemingly fit right into the role, which was also previously played by Colin Farrell in 2016’s Where To Find Them under a guise. The Danish actor has played key roles in some of the largest franchises around, between his villainous roles in Casino Royale, Doctor Strange and the beloved Hannibal series, or in Rogue One as Galen Erso.

Once Johnny Depp announced his exit, fans flocked right to Colin Farrell to reprise his role in the first movie. But there was a problem with that casting hopeful – Farrell is currently playing The Penguin on The Batman set at the same time as Fantastic Beasts continues to film. In another time, he may have theoretically been able to bounce back and forth, but during COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Farrell has to stay put.

There’s no question Mads Mikkelsen is a talented actor who could embody the key Fantastic Beasts Dark Wizard as the storyline inches toward a “massive war” that will include the storied duel between Grindelwald and Jude Law’s Dumbledore. The 2018 sequel The Crimes of Grindelwald saw the Dark Wizard gaining a large following, including having Ezra Miller’s quite powerful Credence Barebone on his side alongside a major lineage reveal. As a whole, Crimes of Grindelwald left the series at a crossroads with a lot for the third film to address.

Thankfully Fantastic Beasts lives in a world of magic, making a Johnny Depp replacement logistically easy to explain. Though Depp does have some passionate fans who are bummed for him too. Following the announcement of his exit, a slew of Depp fans signed a petition asking for his ex-wife Amber Heard to be removed from her own big movie role as Mera in Aquaman. The couple’s court cases have been seriously messy this year, with the latest being that Depp will reportedly have to pay close to $1 million after the decision.

Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently filming just outside of London ahead of its release date on July 15, 2022. Check out what big movies are coming next year in the meantime with CinemaBlend’s 2021 release schedule. Are you excited to see Mads Mikkelsen take on Grindelwald? Vote in our poll below.

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