Danish star Mads Mikkelsen, known for films Casino Royale and Doctor Strange, is in early negotiations to play the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3 after Johnny Depp's exit from the fantasy film series. Last week, Depp revealed that he will no longer play Grindelwald in the Warner Bros' franchise after he lost his libel case relating to abuse allegations by former wife, actor Amber Heard against a UK newspaper.
The studio had also confirmed that Depp's role will be recast before the film opens in theatres.
The third film spin-off in JK Rowling's Harry Potter universe, which shut down shooting in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, is currently in production in the UK. A source close to the production told Variety, Depp had shot just one scene as Grindelwald before leaving the film, so Mikkelsen would not need to replicate much footage.
Mikkelsen is known for playing memorable antagonists like Le Chiffre, a banker to terrorist organisations in Casino Royale, which was Daniel Craig's first outing as the iconic British spy James Bond, supervillain Kaecilius opposite Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange and the cannibalistic serial killer Dr Hannibal Lecter in the NBC series Hannibal.
If the deal is finalised, the actor will join franchise stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol and Ezra Miller. David Yates is directing the film from a screenplay by Rowling and Steve Kloves. Rowling, Kloves, David Heyman, and Lionel Wigram are producing.
Depp first played Grindelwald in 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, taking over from Colin Farrell in the final scene. He reprised the part in 2018's Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and was set to start shooting for the third part next year.
Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently scheduled to be released on July 15, 2022.