According to Deadline, Mads Mikkelsen (who rules) is in “early talks” to play evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3, replacing Johnny Depp (who does not rule). This comes after Depp was asked to resign from the film by Warner Bros., possibly because he had just lost his libel case against British tabloid The Sun and the studio thought it would be a good idea to distance itself from him—though nobody has officially said that’s the case. It could be a total coincidence.
Either way, Mikkelsen might be the one to take his place, which would be an unexpectedly cool move for the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Mikkelsen played a mildly snarky villain in Doctor Strange, but a lot of people know him best as the eponymous genius criminal mastermind on Hannibal or as the nefarious blood-crying banker Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. Those were both far better and more intimidating performances than we would think the Fantastic Beasts series deserves, but making Mads Mikkelsen your villain is rarely a bad idea.
Apparently the idea to hire Mikkelsen came from director David Yates, who Deadline says is a “big fan” of Mikkelsen’s work. Another point in his favor is that he’ll probably come a lot cheaper than Depp, who we just heard yesterday is going to make his full Fantastic Beasts 3 salary even though he only filmed one scene before being asked to step down. We also learned yesterday that the movie is going to be a “three-hander,” meaning Jude Law’s Dumbledore, Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamader, and whoever plays Grindelwald will share a relatively equal amount of screentime. If he gets the gig, then, that would mean a whole lot of Mikkelsen action for Mikkelsen heads.