Not long after losing his libel case against British tabloid The Sun, Johnny Depp was asked to quit the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Franchise, when the courts found sufficient evidence for Depp to be called a “wife-beater.” The question became who would fill Depp’s role of the villainous wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the third installment that was already filming. Now, Depp’s replacement has officially been named, with Mads Mikkelsen taking over the role of Grindelwald.
Even though Johnny Depp only shot one scene for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3, the actor received his entire eight-figure paycheck for the role. Even with Fantastic Beasts 3 currently in production, nothing will have to be reshot with the new inclusion of Mads Mikkelsen. Yet while Fantastic Beasts 3 was originally planned for a November 21 release, it has now been delayed to July 15, 2022.
Given some of the most recent work from Johnny Depp, Mads Mikkelsen is being seen by many as a great improvement over Depp. The actor has already been a part of some major franchises, playing Le Chiffre in 2006’s Casino Royale, the villain Kaecilius in 2016’s Doctor Strange, and Galen Erso in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Mikkelsen rose to prominence playing Dr. Hannibal Lecter in NBC’s Hannibal, and has had considerable success with several films fro Denmark that have made a mark on North American audiences, including the Oscar-winning A Royal Affair and The Hunt. Mikkelsen was also a main character in Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima’s latest game, Death Stranding.
Maybe the recasting of Johnny Depp will be just the breath of fresh air that this franchise needs.
The announcement of Johnny Depp’s replacement comes hot on the heels of rumors that he’s being pushed out of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as well. There, instead of replacing him with another actor (it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Captain Jack Sparrow) studio execs are considering simply moving their franchise in a totally different direction. Given that Fantastic Beasts 3 already has things mapped out, that’s basically impossible, which makes replacing Johnny Depp with Mads Mikkelsen the studio’s only real option, aside from sticking with Depp.
Nobody is sticking with Depp. Since he lost his libel case against The Sun, a case which the judge decided against him specifically because he thought it was true that Depp is a wife-beater, Johnny has become persona non-grata in Hollywood. His career is basically over. That legal loss was just what Hollywood was waiting for, as a means to help them pick a side in the Depp/Heard divorce. Hollywood has now clearly sided with Amber Heard.