‘Fantastic Beasts’ Has Officially Cast Its New Grindelwald To Replace Johnny Depp

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Over the course of November this year, there's been a lot of speculation on who, exactly, might replace Johnny Depp in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise. The spinoff series was originally meant to be a standalone supplement to the iconic Harry Potter movies — however, the highly-anticipated films were marred by ongoing lawsuits and investigations, with Depp at the forefront of the legal fire. Now, it looks like Warner Bros. Pictures has finally made it official: Mads Mikkelsen will replace Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts 3, so there’s a new Grindelwald in town.

This news comes almost immediately after a spokesperson from the film's production company announced Depp's role would be recast for the franchise's third installment. "Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise," the spokesperson said in a Nov. 6 statement to Variety. "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 spokesperson added. Additionally, the film's release date will be pushed back to July 2022.

This statement was released following the culmination of a legal battle between Depp and The Sun — a British tabloid that published an article in 2018 alleging that he abused his former wife, Amber Heard. Depp lost his libel suit against the publication on Nov. 2, and although he plans to appeal the case, he will no longer be allowed to appear in the franchise's third installment.

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On Nov. 25, the production company issued a statement announcing Mads Mikkelsen as the new Grindewald, who has also appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Casino Royale, and (perhaps most notably) Hannibal. As of Nov. 26, Mikkelson has not made any statements about his new role in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

Depp, however, issued a Nov. 6 statement via Instagram about his departure from the film series. "I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindewald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request," he wrote. "My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time," he added.

Fantastic Beasts 3 is slated to fly into theaters in the summer of 2022.