“Hannibal” and “Doctor Strange” actor Mads Mikkelsen is in early talks to take on the role of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts 3,” replacing Johnny Depp in the role, Variety has confirmed.
After playing Grindelwald in the first two “Fantastic Beasts” movies, Depp announced on Friday that Warner Bros. had asked him to “resign” from the role after Depp lost his UK libel trial relating to abuse allegations by ex-wife Amber Heard.
“Fantastic Beasts 3” is currently in production in the UK. According to a source familiar with the project, Depp had shot just one scene as Grindelwald before leaving the film, so Mikkelsen would not need to replicate much footage.
The role of Grindelwald is very much in Mikkelsen’s wheelhouse for playing elaborately intelligent villains. As conceived by author J.K. Rowling, Grindelwald is a brilliant and ruthless dark wizard who in his youth maintained a complicated romantic relationship with the famed wizard Albus Dumbledore (played by Jude Law in the “Fantastic Beasts” films). If one was feeling adventurous, one could compare the Grindelwald/Dumbledore relationship to the homoerotic psycho-sexual tension between Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy’s F.B.I. profiler Will Graham on the cult favorite NBC series “Hannibal” — though, so far, Rowling has not depicted her character consuming his victims.
Should Mikkelsen’s deal go through, along with Law, he will join franchise stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, 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. “Fantastic Beasts 3” is currently scheduled to open on July 15, 2022.
This story originally appeared on Variety.com.